Green Building Programs Revise Inspection Procedures for COVID-19 Precautions

This post was updated on July 2.

As part of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic response, organizations such as the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the Residential Energy Services Network (RESNET) and Home Innovation Research Labs (HI) are adopting emergency inspection procedures for their green-building programs to protect the health and safety of rating providers while meeting the needs of clients.

EPA’s ENERGY STAR programs, RESNET’s Home Energy Rating System (HERS) and HI’s National Green Building Standard (NGBS) Green program will allow raters, rating field inspectors (RFIs) and verifiers to conduct remote inspections using video and/or photo documentation for verification. Additional documentation may be recommended or required, including:

  • For HERS Ratings: A signed copy of RESNET’s Interim Remote Verification Disclosure Form to the builder or developer, which will be distributed soon by RESNET.
  • For ENERGY STAR for Homes: Specific notation (e.g., ‘R’ for ‘Remote’) on the ENERGY STAR Rater Field Checklist for those items that have been verified remotely.
  • For NGBS Green: Verifiers should seek approval with Home Innovation for a virtual inspection prior to the conducting the inspection. The virtual inspection request should include a reason for the request, inspection date, the project ID, and a link to the virtual platform that will be used so that Home Innovation staff can participate.

The allowance for remote visual verification for RESNET’s HERS scores was recently extended through Sept. 30, 2020. ENERGY STAR Single-Family Home, Multifamily New Construction, Multifamily High Rise and Indoor airPLUS programs also extended their temporary allowance for remote verification through Sept. 30, 2020. Home Innovation’s protocol is available upon request and approval for emergency situations.

RESNET also adopted Emergency Interim Amendment 48i, allowing the use of certain RESNET-defined default values for the ventilation airflow rate, duct leakage to outside and infiltration. EPA will continue to require on-site diagnostic testing, and is working with RESNET to see how these testing alternatives may apply to ENERGY STAR programs. The emergency amendment was adopted on April 20, 2020, and is set to expire 120 days from its adoption, with an option to be revisited at that time.

EPA will continue to require on-site diagnostic testing of infiltration, duct leakage and ventilation, and will not permit the use of diagnostic testing defaults for the ENERGY STAR certification at this time.

HI continues to require on-site testing with the above modified remote procedures; no estimated values or measures may be used. Program administrators encourage verifiers to work with other verifiers or qualified professionals when they are unable to visit a site to perform these tests.

For more information on these changes, visit RESNET’s COVID-19 Updates webpage, EPA’s temporary allowance announcement and HI’s Insider Update.

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