#NiceWork Greiner – Achieving 15%-30% Air Sealing Target Reduction

Through a visual inspection of the building envelope and ongoing blower door testing, BIG staff provided specific ‘good-better-best’ strategies for Greiner to achieve 15%-30% air sealing targets. We also discussed specific applications of air sealing materials and the need for installing mechanical ventilation when the air changes at natural per hour are .35 or less. Underlying each part of the air sealing training was a cost-benefit proposition for Greiner’s staff in order to maximize their resources at a job.

Ongoing blower door testing. After every significant air sealing treatment, we retested to check our impact on the shell leakage.

  • 1st treatment: Caulking over gasket at sunlight (2284 CFM50, 1% reduction)
  • 2nd treatment: Weatherstripping mechanical room door and attic access (2219 CFM50, 4% reduction)
  • 3rd treatment: Sealing can lights, switch plates, doorbell transformer, and weatherstripping doors to exterior and garage (2198 CFM50, 5% reduction)
  • 4th treatment: Sealing abandoned vent underneath stove top, penetration at back splash/cabinets (2080 CFM50, 10% reduction)
  • 5th treatment: Reinforced skylight with duct sealing mastic (pookie) (1900 CFM50, 17.6% reduction, i.e. “FQC safe”)

Result: A 15% air sealing reduction target was achieved before lunch. (Expected to take 6 hours; it took 4. Achievable with a crew of 2 persons, i.e. 8 hours of labor total.)

#NiceWork Greiner team!

Changes to Whole House Combustion Appliance Safety Test Procedure, NGAT Action Guidelines, and Make Safe Procedure

What will happen:

Whole House Combustion Appliance Safety Test Procedure, NGAT Action Guidelines, and Make Safe Procedure have changed for the 2019 program year. Please read through the updated documents and update your processes accordingly in the field, as soon as possible.

When it will happen:

April 1, 2019: Updated field processes should be fully implemented

What is new?

The following is a summary of the key changes that have been made. However, please make sure to review both documents in their entirety.

Whole House Combustion Appliance Safety Test Procedure

  1. Instances of the CO ‘fail’ threshold of 35ppm have changed to 26 ppm in Addendum #1 (NGAT Ambient and Flue CO Action Levels for GSR Calls) of the Whole House Combustion Appliance Safety Test Procedure

NGAT Action Guidelines

  1. Line 44: The description has changed to IMPROPER VENT TERMINATION DISTANCE, including:
    a) Natural draft vertical pipe terminating less than 4 feet from outside wall and not extended above roof.
    b) Horizontal vent pipe outside a wall and not extended above roof.
    c) Direct vent wall furnace terminated within 10 feet of a window wall AC or evap cooler and not 3 feet above roof and appliance does affect the living space.

  2. Removal of CIP NGAT Fail Code column

Make Safe Procedure

  1. Immediate Response (IR) CO measurement threshold instances of 35 ppm have changed to 26 ppm.

Download the Whole House Combustion Appliance Safety Test Procedure.

Download the NGAT Action Guidelines.

Download the Make Safe Procedure.

Critical Dates:

April 1, 2019: All testing must be done using the new guidelines.

Thermostats: Set Points & Offers

When the weather outside is frightful, it’s time to turn up the heat!

Programmable Thermostat Set Points

When modeling thermostat set points in energy modeling software, the Program requires the use of software defaults. This helps keep predicted savings conservative and in closer alignment with actual savings and realization rates (on average), better managing customer incentive expectations.

For SnuggPro, please select thermostat type (e.g., programmable, non-programmable, etc.) and leave the set-point input fields blank, as this will prompt the software to populate those fields with default range values. Based on weather station and bill data (if available), SnuggPro picks the best values for the modeled building. Desktop QA will be looking to verify the following:

The default thermostat setpoints for SnuggPro (when left blank during input):
Heating (High/At Home) = 64-72 F
Heating (Low/Not at Home) = 60-68 F
Cooling (High/Not at Home) = 76-88 F
Cooling (Low/At Home) = 72-82 F

For OptiMiser, the software uses default values also, based on weather station and bill data (if available). Please do not change them. Desktop QA will be looking to verify the following:

OptiMiser existing buildings default (Simple Mode)

Heating (1 Set-Back/Programmable)
Day Temp: 70 F
Night Temp: 68F

Cooling (1 Set-Back/Programmable)
Home Temp: 78 F
Away Temp: 78 F

Heating (2 Set-Back Programmable/Smart)
Home/Wake Temp: 70 F
Work/Sleep Temp: 68 F

Cooling (2 Set-Back Programmable/Smart)
Home/Wake Temp: 78 F
Work/Sleep Temp: 78 F

Smart Thermostat Offer

Build It Green has partnered with Ecobee to provide an exciting volume discount exclusively for our participating contractors. The Ecobee 3lite thermostat will be available at the +10,000 unit price when ordered in full case quantities of eight, and Ecobee will pay the shipping. The Ecobee 3lite is compatible with all 24 volt comfort systems including two stage air handlers and heat pump systems. Contact your Build It Green account representative for more information.

10 Tips to Sail Through FQC and CIP

Following these tips will help you spend less time on go-backs and remediating problems so you can spend more time selling and installing new jobs.


1. Keep EUC materials on-hand for reference. Use resources such as the NGAT Action Guidelines, Make Safe Procedure, 2016 Whole House Combustion Appliance Safety Test Procedure, and Home Upgrade Installation Specs.


2. Communicate with your team. Incorporate testing and quality installation requirements as topics in your regular meetings with field staff to ensure all health, safety, and program requirements are met.


3. Take ownership. Participating contractors are responsible for the work listed in their signed scope of work (e.g. measures claimed for the application) and for the safe operation of all combustion safety appliances. Regardless if combustion appliances are included in the signed scope of work agreement, per program requirements, you are still responsible for making sure the appliance operates safely. Are you only doing an HVAC changeout, but the water heater is spilling and has insufficient CVA? In this example you are still responsible correcting the safety issues with the water heater.


4. Be thorough! Test all accessible gas lines and follow all testing protocols when inspecting combustion appliance safety.


5. FQC visits are program requirements and help ensure success. Keep homeowners informed that they may be selected for a Build it Green field quality control inspection or a PG&E CIP inspection. All jobs with incentive amounts greater than $10K require mandatory PG&E CIP inspections.


6. Be prepared and plan ahead. Go-backs are costly and take away from your company’s productivity. Whether it’s for safety, energy-saving measures, or mechanical ventilation installation, it’s important to be prepared to remedy any issues before the job’s completion.


7. Communicate with the homeowner. Many customer complaints arise from misquoting rebate amounts, not discussing the importance of safety and field quality control requirements, and not following up with customer complaints. These are all fixable by communicating expectations with homeowners and following up in a timely manner. Let the homeowner know what to expect from the beginning of the job through its completion and follow up!


8. Document, document, document. From safety concerns to recommendations for a customer to install mechanical ventilation, we recommend contractors document all issues that arise. Take photos for your file and use the test measurements form to submit records for the Build It Green Desktop Review and Field Quality Control teams.


9. Incorporate balanced ventilation strategies. While auditors must observe indoor air quality and ventilation requirements on every project, it is particularly important when Whole Building Air Sealing is performed. Although BPI-1200 currently references ASHRAE 62.2-2013 for whole-building ventilation requirements, California references a version of ASHRAE 62-2010. Build It Green recommends all participating contractors consult their local code-enforcement for ventilation requirements during work-scope development prior to installation on all projects.


10. Air seal thoroughly. A best practice whole-house approach for a typical Home Upgrade Program project would be to air seal as much as possible to reduce energy loss and to provide balanced mechanical ventilation while minimizing unwanted pollutants from entering the home. For a helpful resource, Build It Green recommends referencing the online ASHRAE 62.2-2010 (California) mechanical ventilation calculator located here (an ASHRAE 62.2 2013 mechanical ventilation calculator is also available).

Cake Systems update for AHU Participants

Earth Advantage (the developer/owner of CakeSystems versions 1.0-1.8) is discontinuing support for CakeSystems energy-modeling software as they have decided to re-focus their efforts towards projects that more closely align with their organization’s mission.

Some CakeSystems users will be transitioned off of CakeSystems on December 31st, 2017. Others will be transitioned by the end of the first quarter of 2018 (this depends on the type of user agreement they have with specific software-user customers). If you don’t know what your contract end date is, please contact Earth Advantage for more information.

If you use (or were planning on using) CakeSystems software for modeling Advanced Home Upgrade projects, please contact Build It Green at 510-285-6222 to discuss the other approved software options (OptiMiser or SnuggPro).

If you use SnuggPro or OptiMiser energy-modeling software, you do not need to take any action at this time. Both of those software options are continuing to support their products going forward.

#NiceWork: Indoor Air Quality and Ventilation

When auditing residences in the Home Upgrade Program, participants must reference current standards (please refer to BPI-1100 (Section 8) and BPI-1200 (Section 8) for details).

A best practice whole-house approach for a typical Home Upgrade Program project is to air seal as much as possible to reduce energy loss and to provide balanced mechanical ventilation while minimizing unwanted pollutants from entering the home.

For example, Mike MacFarland of Energy Docs addressed his customer’s goals, ventilation, and comfort issues by installing a heat recovery ventilator (HRV) mechanical ventilation system.

Are you current on ventilation-related codes and best practices? While auditors must observe indoor air quality and ventilation requirements on every project, it is particularly important when whole building air sealing is performed. Although BPI-1200 currently references ASHRAE 62.2-2013 for whole-building ventilation requirements, California references a version of ASHRAE 62-2010. BPI’s guidance on this difference in approach has been to defer to local code-enforcement requirements, aiming to observe the most stringent standard when possible (e.g. meeting or exceeding a higher CFM rate for mechanical ventilation). Title 24 code will also require local ventilation exhaust in kitchens, bathrooms, and laundries. Build It Green recommends all participating contractors consult their local code-enforcement for ventilation requirements during work-scope development, prior to installation on all projects.

#NiceWork: Venting Exhaust Appliances

When installed properly, exhaust appliances (bathroom fans, dryers, kitchen range hoods, etc.) help remove excess moisture and pollutants within a home. This improves indoor air quality and reduces the need for costly home repairs. However, venting an exhaust appliance into an attic, crawl space, or elsewhere inside the home can create serious problems, from mold and saturated insulation to rotted framing. It can also exacerbate health problems from allergies to asthma.

When installing exhaust appliances in the home, best practices require that all exhaust appliances vent to the outdoors. In your test-in assessment checklist, be sure to inspect exhaust appliances for proper venting, and add any necessary repairs to the customer’s scope of work. This will help avoid costly go-backs after the job is completed and help mitigate any future issues for the occupants.

Example of a poorly installed bathroom exhaust fan venting into the attic:

#NiceWork performed by Lee’s Accu-Tech Service, Inc.:

Winter Refrigerant Charge Verification for Final Permits

To comply with SB 1414, Home Upgrade participating contractors must upload a copy of the signed-off permit after final inspection for jobs with air conditioners and heat pumps. The requirement may impact the typical job completion process for some of you, as standard refrigerant charge verification cannot be completed if the ambient outdoor temperature is below 55 degrees Fahrenheit.

If your application requires a final, signed-off permit, but you are unable to schedule a standard Title-24 HERS refrigerant charge verification due to outdoor temperature, you may elect to complete a “Winter Refrigerant Charge Verification.” The full details are found on page 9-42 of the 2016 Residential Compliance Manual.

From the manual, “Compliance with HERS verification when the outdoor temperatures are less than 55 degrees F can be demonstrated using one of the following alternatives:

a. The installer may use the weigh-in charging procedure, but elect to have the system verified by a HERS rater using the RA3.2.2 standard charge verification procedure at a time when the temperature is warmer. However, this option can delay the project. In this case, the installer must include the signatures of the homeowner and the HERS Rater on the CF2R – MCH25c form to notify the local enforcement agency that a correct refrigerant charge will be verified at a later time (RA 2.4.4). The installer must also provide written notice to the homeowner that the charge has not yet been verified (RA2.4.4).

b. EXCEPTION 1 to §150.2(b)1Fiib provides for an alternative HERS verification procedure if the weigh-in method is used. This exception allows the installer to use the HERS Rater verification procedure in RA3.2.3.2 in which the rater observes the installer while the installer performs the weigh-in charging procedure. However, when the HVAC installer elects this option, as specified in RA3.2.3.2, the system thermostat must be an OCST [Occupant Controlled Smart Thermostat] that conforms to the requirements of JA5.”

If your job scope includes an air conditioner and/or heat pump but you are unable to acquire a final, signed-off permit following either the standard charge procedure or winter refrigerant charge procedure, your application may not be approved for payment. We ask that you to maintain clear, detailed, and open communication with your customers if you expect delays to avoid customer dissatisfaction with your company or the Home Upgrade Program.

Permit Closure Requirements for All AC and Heat Pump Installations

A new law, SB1414, requires PG&E to collect proof of permit closure before paying energy efficiency rebates or incentives for central air conditioning or heat pumps and their related fans beginning January 1, 2017.

Why Does This Matter to Me?
Customers already self-certify that their projects comply with all applicable permitting requirements and that they used a licensed contractor if required. Additionally, participating contractors already certify that HVAC measures followed all permitting requirement and provide a permit number for the project.

This new law will require that for central AC and heat pump projects, the customer or contractor also provide proof that the permit was closed by the local building authority. Starting January 1, 2017, PG&E cannot legally pay incentives or rebates to customers or contractors for central air-conditioning or heat pumps and their related fans without collecting proof of permit closure. This may delay the processing of payment and savings claims for some projects.

To comply with law, maintain customer satisfaction, and reach our energy savings goals, all stakeholders need to be aware of this change.

What Measures Are Affected?
For both Advanced Home Upgrade and Home Upgrade pathways:

  • Central air conditioning including: air handlers with air conditioning; split and packaged units
  • Heat pumps including: air handlers with heat pumps; air source, ground source, hybrid etc; split and package units
  • Fans associated with central air conditioning or heat pumps.

Measures that are believed not to be affected:

  • Installation of VFDs onto existing central air conditioning, heat pumps, or fans.
  • Non-fan component replacements (e.g. blower motor upgrades)
  • Cogged V-belts upgrades
  • Quality maintenance measures (except fan replacements)
  • Heat pump water heaters

What Are My Options?
If your rebate or incentive will be issued on or after January 1, 2017, you will need to submit proof of permit closure to Build It Green (in addition to the SQA form) before PG&E can issue payment.

Proof of permit closure documentation varies by jurisdiction and permit type. Until further notice, documentation that indicates proof of permit closure must be provided by the authority having jurisdiction (e.g. local permitting office), include the permit number, customer name and address, and an indication that the permit has been closed and/or final.

You can avoid potential delays in rebate or incentive payments associated with the permit closure process by completing your project and receiving an incentive before December 31, 2016. If you are able and interested in this option, contact your account representative at Build It Green to determine when your project would need to be fully installed in order to meet that deadline.

Note: These requirements apply to all Home Upgrade and Advanced Home Upgrade applications that include affected measures and are not Approved by Desktop QA by 11/30/2016.

Where Can I Find Out More About This Requirement?

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