Larry Zarker – CEO, Building Performance Institute & Joe Medosch Energy & Environmental Consulting LLC – What is the BPI Healthy Home Evaluator?

Air Date: 6-2-2017|Episode 462

This week on IAQ Radio we explore a new credential from the home performance world that is directly related to indoor environmental quality. The Building Performance Institute, has recently established the Healthy Home Evaluator credential to add to their list of credentials available. We look forward to talking about this and other home performance community trends with Larry Zarker and Joe Medosch.

Full Description:

This week on IAQ Radio we explore a new credential from the home performance world that is directly related to indoor environmental quality. The Building Performance Institute, has recently established the Healthy Home Evaluator credential to add to their list of credentials available. We look forward to talking about this and other home performance community trends with Larry Zarker and Joe Medosch.

Larry Zarker is the CEO of the Building Performance Institute, the professional standards setting and credentialing organization for both the weatherization and home performance contracting industries.  He oversees BPI’s national network of over 12,000 certified professionals and BPI GoldStar contracting companies.  He helped found and served on the Board of Directors of Efficiency First, the trade association for America’s home performance workforce.  Prior to BPI, he worked for nearly twenty years with the NAHB Research Center and was the Vice President of Marketing for over a decade, serving both the new home and remodeling sectors with innovative product development and research.
Joe Medosch – Owner of Energy & Environmental Consulting, LLC and Executive Director of Healthy Home Environment Association. He participated in the development of the BPI HHE credential and is a Healthy Homes Master Trainer. His certifications include:  BPI Proctor – Building Analyst & Envelope Professional, Healthy Home Evaluator, Infiltration & Duct Leakage, ICC- Commercial & Residential Energy Inspector / Plans Examiner and Residential Building Inspector.
Z-Man’s Blog:
“It all starts at the kitchen table”  
Larry Zarker is CEO of the Building Performance Institute (BPI) a 23 year old nonprofit organization based in NY focused on developing standards and certifying work forces. Larry oversees BPI’s national network of 12,000 certified professionals and GoldStar contracting firms.

Joe Medosch is Owner of Energy & Environmental Consulting, LLC and Executive Director of Healthy Home Environment Organization. He holds multiple industry certifications, worked on the BPI HHE credential and is a BPI Healthy Homes Master Trainer.

Nuggets mined from today’s interview:
How many certification programs does BPI have?
LZ– BPI Currently has 18 certification programs.
LZ– While market based programs change; the principles of building science remain the same. The Arab Oil Embargo resulted in engineers from ASHRAE creating the first Energy Codes, the speed limit was reduced; the focus was on providing incentives for energy savings. Have learned over time that health, safety, comfort and durability are the issues not just energy.

JM– is from Chicago. Has a diverse background is in maintenance, contracting, home inspection, and CIE when he stumbled onto BPI certifications. He has been involved with BPI for years and opines that it is a phenomenal resource. According to Joe, “there’s a difference between knowing something and being certified as knowing something.” Joe predicts that the Healthy Home Evaluator certification will become BPI’s legacy certification.

Many listeners to our show could use an influx of steady work?
LZ– Contractors such as: HVAC, insulation, window installers, remodelers, experience seasonality business cycles. Successful home performance contractors minimize seasonality. The weatherization program is government funded and focused on low income families whose utility bills consume and inordinately high percentage of income. Full building performance is based upon what the owner wants to invest not government funding.

LZ– Tuned in home performance contractors aren’t there to sell new windows, they pay attention to owner concerns at the kitchen table. By listening to the owner and inspecting they can identify the problems and a path to improving quality of life.

LZ– Over 7 million homes have benefited from Federal funding for low income weatherization. Program funding is zeroed out in the President’s FY18 budget and maybe eliminated on a national level if Congress does not reinstate funding. The program has focused on energy savings and monitored the health consequences of this work. It’s time to bring other criteria into play on all home performance work: reduction of emergency room visits, hospital stayovers, doctors’ visits, medical treatments, school absences, sick days, days off work, etc.
The Health Benefits of Home Performance – A Review of the Current Evidence

How did the HHE program come about?
LZ– BPI pulled together a team of subject matter experts who developed the scope, certification scheme, and certification exam. The team opined that the subject warranted a prerequisite certification. BPI is an ANSI accredited standards and certification organization. BPI follows ANSI certification requirements and has 4 ANSI certifications. ANSI certification accrediting is cost prohibitive for all certifications.

LZ– 300 people from the industry took the exam. Healthy Housing Solutions and HUD provided support and financing for the development of a model curriculum. 130 test centers offer the training, There’s a train-the-trainer program. Subject matter experts relied upon existing BPI, ASHRAE, standards. There are no plans for BPI to create a HHE standard. But a Healthy Home Protocol is a priority for HHEA – Healthy Home Environment Association. HHEA is working with Kevin Kennedy and hope to have a first draft of “What is a Healthy Home Assessment” before the end of the year and a protocol by summer of 2018.

LZ– Building science isn’t rocket science. A higher level Forensic course and lower level certificate program are under consideration. Ideal course candidates are comfortable working in wet crawlspaces and dirty attics.

The HHE Certification Scheme Handbook is on the website, the exam is 50 questions, with a 90 minute time limit:

JM– Inspectors commonly see health and safety issues that should be added to their reports. He predicts more of this will be seen in the future. Using a blower door we can prove that attics and crawlspaces are connected to the indoor environment and do have a major impact on building occupants.
JM– people are excited about the BPI HHE certification course. In 1995 people had computers and there wasn’t much we could do with them and then the internet exploded. There is a need for Healthy Home Assessment protocols that will define this industry and provide a diverse business model.

LZ– Healthy Homes encompasses IAQ but isn’t IAQ. Healthy Homes goes well beyond IAQ by incorporating the key principles of a Healthy Home which includes safety, pest management to name a few.

What do Healthy Home inspectors do?
LZ– Environmental risk assessments and then give results to clients. While not treating health conditions, they may provide intervention in home and report back to doctors. Everything is evidence based and uses resources from National and World organizations.
JM– While it isn’t required that inspectors have an IAQ background, building science background is a must! Complaints of coughing, sneezing and wheezing aren’t limited to pointing to 18 year carpet.

HHEA is a tiered membership organization, membership should be opened up in Fall of 2018. By September we hope to have a HHE checklist and inspection software solutions.

LZ– People are no longer buying IAQ. “IAQ” is losing search relevance while “healthy home” is gaining interest. It all starts at the kitchen table. Focus on the customer and the home. Listen, they will tell you everything about the home and importantly what they want.
What’s a Healthy Home Evaluation and what is a reasonable service fee?

JM– Those are loaded questions. It’s rare to be doing just a general no issue – healthy home evaluation, there usually another reason for the inspection. Considering time, report writing, diagnostic tools and liability $400-$600. For energy audits. some Utility providers will pay $100+ towards the energy audit and directly pay a fee to the inspector. Energy Audit +Healthy Home is just now beginning to enter the market.

What about conflict of interest?
JM– Full disclosure prevents conflict of interest. Inspection and remediation are different skill sets.
LZ– There are two models the consultant model and the contractor model. The state of New York favors the contractor model. The contractor is invited into the home by the owner who recommends actions that they can perform and/or oversee.
Final Comments:

Both Larry Zarker and Joe Medosch are interested in creating alliances and working with other groups to make a difference.

Z-Man signing off
Trivia Question:
What is Home Performance?
Home Performance is taking an integrated approach to how the home’s or building’s systems can work together to provide the most comfort and efficient living space.