February, 2013 Volume 5, Issue 1

The Weatherization PLUS Newsletter

Economic Opportunity Studies, Inc.  |  www.weatherizationplus.org

Top Story

Unresolved: Is Weatherization Shrinking or Vanshing?

As most state and community programs  puzzle over the consequences of the across-the-board cut that becomes effective this week, weatherizers remain in the dark over whether the April Fools’ Day PY 2013 start date means just $62 million wil be available for state allocations.  That figure is about 30% of pre-ARRA 2008 level. The uncertainty may not be resolved until the end of March, as Congress is not moving spending Bills during today’s “cliff” standoff and is not required to act until the 6-month Continuing Resolution containing the low WAP figure expires at the end of March. 

There is some hope appropriators will rearrange this part of the next funding bill because of the Energy  Department’s active, now-public appeal to Congress asserting that the rationale about ‘leftover’ prior year funds is a fiction.  Assistant Secretary Danielson gave this interview to an energy newsletter 10 days ago making the basic case  for the President’s requested Budget.

Nevertheless, the President’s Request for PY 2013 was $139 Million, just over 60% of 2008 funds.

Both national organizations with  WAP on their agenda, NASCSP and NCAF, will be bringing members to the Capitol in the next 10 days to make the case for a robust Weatherization program.  You can follow developments here, and find local leadership advocacy material  online over the coming days.
The national Sierra Club  has adopted WAP funding  as part of their mass advocacy agenda directed at the President and his 2014 Budget Request.  This
mass signature letter is a first for a predominantly environmental organization. The Sierra Club  letter concludes “The principles of fairness and environmental stewardship are united through the Weatherization Assistance Program.” 


WAP Multifamily Housing Challenges? EOS Online Peer Discussions May Find You Answers

EOS has initiated two online Multifamily Weatherization Peer Discussions. These small groups (15 attendees max) offer local Weatherizers an opportunity to exchange ideas about working in the multifamily sector. Our peer discussion format is more brainstorming than lecturing. The challenges that emerged include:  

What basic program challenges did you overcome in your multifamily WAP? How?
It is important to get over the mental hurdle that bigger buildings are a bit imposing. Over the years, DOE has developed helpful tools and resources related to bigger buildings. Honestly recognize your limitations and real capacity, while trying to expand into the sector. It’s OK to seek outside help such as experienced contractors as you develop the internal capacity to weatherize multifamily buildings.

How do you get every client to sign all the paper so that the entire building can be weatherized?
Tenacity and a great team on site! You need a dedicated, persistent property manager who cooperates with your skillful, flexible intake specialists. [Example: Michigan Community Action Agency Association worked with CLEARCorps/ Detroit and CleaResult Consulting to address client compliance matters.] Consider intake shifts in the evening and weekends with the property management support and outreach.

How do you get landlords to participate?
Owners want the benefits of weatherization, but none of the restrictions or costs. Know how to sign them up for low-cost state or utility – financed programs. [Example: Michigan Saves has rates as low as 3.99%. ] If a state program isn’t an option, find a foundation, intermediary or community group willing to structure a low-cost finance program and package it for the owner.

What is the most attractive benefit for the owners? What are the best incentives? Is there a market that will self-finance a joint project?
Owners ought to care because their property is being improved by the upgrades thus the value of their property increases.  Convincing owners to stop expecting free money will not be easy, but there is no stand-alone market without owner buy-in.  An owner needs to clearly see the benefits to their business; this can include more money for operating costs and optimum savings for building reserves. However, the right mind-set as a building owner is to keep the building in good condition in order to increase property value and appeal to eligible residents.  Show them how you will deliver these benefits.

What are some of the key partnerships and resources that made projects work?
Local government officials, contractors and community stakeholders working together can mean maximizing dollars and help with residential intake. [Ex. Local governments can fund and/or administer a rebate program while community stakeholders can assist with PR and neighborhood buy-in.]

Speakers were: Peter Wingate, Community Action of the Franklin, Hampshire, and North Quabbin Regions, Greenfield, MA on 1/10/13, and Chere Coleman, Michigan CAA Association on 1/14/13. 



Weatherization 2013 Guidance: New and Evolving Elements

In the newest Program Guidance, the DOE Office of Weatherization and Intergovernmental Programs delivers a monumental clean-up job intended to consolidate all guidance that is still in effect. It contains a chart ‘cross-walking’ users to prior detailed program notices that elaborate on specific topics. It’s a keeper.

These are the changes to simplify the program:

Multifamily Unit Requirements

  • No more requirements to use a multi-family audit tool and provide training on it unless more than 20% of the agency production is multifamily units. This is “Due to reduced funding levels and the subsequent reduction in the number of multifamily buildings anticipated to be weatherized. [However] there is still the expectation that all eligible families will be served by the Program. DOE still requires each Grantee to explain how this housing stock will be addressed. Grantees are required to submit multifamily buildings to their DOE Project Officer if they do not have an approved multifamily audit.”  
  • The development of the multifamily audit tool by Oak Ridge National Laboratory will continue.

More Public Input to State Plans

  • The notice “urges” grantees to hold two public hearings, not one. The first should be at the beginning of the plan development process. This is effective for 2013.
  • 3-year grant cycles starting with 2013, not 5 years. 

Changes NOT Made [keeping the program simpler]: 

  • Job credentials: There is no discussion of a requirement for workers to have the Home Energy Professional Certification by 2014; that policy was announced in the September 2012 NASCSP annual meeting as being under consideration.  It does not appear in the ‘under consideration’ list in WPN-13.
  • Baseload measures: A prior General Counsel notice on Recovery Act [we missed it] corrected information announced at the same Conference when it was announced that electric baseload upgrades would soon not be allowable expenditures.  It says, “there has been some question as to the eligibility of replacement refrigerators generally. The Office of the General Counsel has looked into this matter and has concluded that … replacement refrigerator [is] an allowable weatherization measure.”

More change ahead?
From WPN-13 For Program Year 2014, DOE is considering moving all grantee program start dates to April 1st.  The explanation is the appropriations confusion always caused by the apparent “carryover” from federal fiscal year to federal fiscal year as the later-than-April 1 grants run their full 12 months.

What to do right now? Urge your State colleagues to set up the two-stage input process for the 2013 plan. Re-think how you want to do multifamily units now that no specialized audit tool is required.

Review this and email us your views about these updates, the questions you would like DOE to answer – we’ll post comments and we’ll try to get answers to share with our entire network.


Changes Ahead for Home Performance with Energy Star

The Department of Energy is announcing its plans for the next two phases of Home Performance with Energy Star in a report  based on recommendations from sponsors and stakeholders in 2012.  This could signal a moment of opportunity for some Weatherizers, many of whom are currently receiving training and undergoing testing for the new Home Energy Professional certifications.  It introduces HPwES® “v1.5”,  a ‘transition’ framework created to clarify and standardize the disparate approaches to auditing, diagnostic and reporting methodologies; work scopes and quality assurance protocols that sponsors  used in the “v 1.0” phase.

The DOE goal is that the program changes during the v.1.5 period and adopts a long-term “v2.0” design.  V2.0 will mean expansion and open the program to a broader network of home performance companies and practitioners.   

Third party quality assurance is a major element of HPwES® of the future; as more sponsors become involved in the program, this growing demand could lead to market-rate business opportunities for Weatherization agencies. They could become contractors for intake, audit and inspection services as well as for installation work.  WAP Trainer’s Consortium has already made an impact on the HPwES program’s technical specifications by taking the lead in reviewing ASHRAE 62.2 in the summer of 2012.  DOE program managers expect that the material developed under that review process will form the basis for incorporating ASHRAE 62.2 in all federal residential building programs.

For more specific information to help you anticipate the market and its opportunities check out the full report.


Opportunities

Does Your Supervisor Need a Better Understanding of Building Science? Do you?

Consider the new BPI Home Performance for Non-Experts Course

A new Building Performance Institute course offers an introduction to help non-professionals take a ‘first step’ into the science and art of home performance.  It offers a new ‘Building Science Principles (BSP) Certificate of Knowledge’ that is not “certification” like BPI professional development courses such as BPI Building Analyst.  Rather, this certificate of achievement means you now have a good understanding of how energy systems and building envelopes should work together when they are designed and installed correctly .

The BSP Certificate course has two parts.  A reference guide is the course manual and available for $99.  Check out a ‘sneak peek’ by clicking here. The second part is the online examination- also $99.  Because the 100-item exam is online,  it can be taken at any time over a year.

Leslie McDowell, Director of Marketing and Communications for the Building Performance Institute (BPI), told  EOS “For some time now BPI has received interest in a course enabling individuals to get an understanding of home performance without having to commit to becoming subject matter experts. ”  Manufacturers  have  enthusiastically endorsed this effort, according to Leslie.  Bill Spohn, CEO of TruTech Tools, Ltd. said, “When they [sales staff] feel confident about their knowledge of home performance, they’re better able to communicate the benefits of whole-house solutions to customers." 

Weatherization professionals may see a different value proposition and suggest this course to  their organization’s administrators and to state or federal  program personnel.   Would a tuition gift certificate make a terrific award instead of a plaque for that special program leader? A belated Valentine for a spouse who seems oddly disinterested in pressure balancing? The BPI web page for the new certificate answers most questions, but not these. 

 


The Newsletter of Economic Opportunity Studies’ Weatherization PLUS Leveraging Partnership Project brings timely information about developments that expand the Weatherization Assistance Program to help your organization take advantage of emerging opportunities. Visit the Weatherization PLUS portal for more information.

Why You Are Receiving This Email
Your name is on a list of federal and state Weatherization Program contacts from W.A.P. conference attendance records. Of course, you may unsubscribe (see below). However, we hope you will help us add the names and addresses of all who may be interested. Our promise: 1) We do not share our list, and, 2) The newsletter will be sent only when there is useful material for weatherizers.

Specific questions? Opinions? Subjects we should cover in the future? Email us at:
energy_leveraging_news@opportunitystudies.org

In This Issue:

» Funding for Weatherization
» Multifamily Building Peer Exchange
» 2013 Weatherization Guidance
» Home Performance w/ EnergyStar Updated
» Building Science Course

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Project Coordinator

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Project Coordinator

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Disclaimer: "This report was prepared as an account of work sponsored by an agency of the United States Government. Neither the United States Government nor any agency thereof, nor any of their employees, makes any warranty, express or implied, or assumes any legal liability or responsibility for the accuracy, completeness, or usefulness of any information, apparatus, product, or process disclosed, or represents that its use would not infringe privately owned rights. Reference herein to any specific commercial product, process, or service by trade name, trademark, manufacturer, or otherwise does not necessarily constitute or imply its endorsement, recommendation, or favoring by the United States Government or any agency thereof. The views and opinions of authors expressed herein do not necessarily state or reflect those of the United States Government or any agency thereof."

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