Changes to Home Upgrade Training and Certification Requirements

Update: Contractors can now have either a BPI Analyst on staff or use a Participating Rater; BPI Analysts must retake the Advanced Technical Training every two years.



Dear Participating Contractors and Raters,

With the Home Upgrade basic pathway being discontinued, the Advanced Home Upgrade pathway will become the primary program offering. Build It Green is working to help contractors transition their businesses to Advanced Home Upgrade, and to help Raters continue their participation as we evolve and scale the program. Our goal is to build a thriving market for home performance contracting; to achieve that goal, we must increase the number of providers who offer these services.

Participation Rule Change for BPI Analysts

Accommodating differing business sizes and models helps us scale. With this in mind, BIG and PG&E have adjusted the participation rules so that Advanced Home Upgrade contractors can either:

  1. Have a BPI Analyst on staff or
  2. Use a Participating Rater

Training Requirement Change

BIG is rolling out a more extensive training schedule to help contractors refresh their skills. We are working to build the most elite team of home performance contractors—like you!—in California, and this more extensive training schedule helps us get there.

This means that professionals who have not taken either Advanced Technical Training or Home Upgrade Core Training in 2016/2017 will need to retake it at some point in 2018.

This change is to ensure that the rigor and training that have made Advanced Home Upgrade successful continues as we expand our contractor pool. On-boarding and additional training are the two places where we can have the biggest impact, and we’ll be raising our standards and requirements in both areas.

Please review the chart for the updated training requirements–or click the image above to download a pdf version.

Upcoming Trainings: Mark Your Calendar

May 23-25  | Home Upgrade Core Training
June 18-20 | Home Upgrade Core Training
July 18-20  | Home Upgrade Core Training
Aug. 13-15 | Home Upgrade Core Training

March 14-15 | Home Energy Score Boot Camp (Santa Maria)

April 2-3 | Advanced Technical Training
May 7-8 | Advanced Technical Training
June 4-5 | Advanced Technical Training
July 9-10 | Advanced Technical Training
Sept. 17-18 | Advanced Technical Training

Coming soon: HPHI (High Performance HVAC Install) Training, Duct Leakage to Outside Testing Training

*Note: For contractors who live a considerable distance away from the Stockton training center, we will offer to move a Home Upgrade Core or Advanced Technical Training location if a group of 8 or more forms and will commit to one of the above dates in their area (for example, Bakersfield or Fresno).

Home Upgrade Pathway to be Discontinued in 2018

The Energy Upgrade California® Home Upgrade program is being simplified for 2018: The Home Upgrade pathway (formerly known as the “Basic” pathway) is being discontinued. The Advanced Home Upgrade pathway will continue and become the program’s primary offering.

Build It Green (BIG) and PG&E encourage all Home Upgrade contractors to offer the deeper Advanced Home Upgrade pathway to your customers— for up to $5,500 in incentives. BIG can assist your company with the training and support necessary to make this transition.

2018 Timeline

Build It Green and PG&E will ensure that you have adequate time to adjust your business to this program change and to complete all Home Upgrade/Basic pathway jobs in your pipeline.

  • April 30: Last day to submit all HU pathway jobs: Between now and April 30, you should complete all sales negotiations for jobs involving HU incentives.
  • June 15: Last day to approve HU pathway jobs: Between April 30 and June 15, all desktop reviews, corrections, and FQCs will take place. Applications not approved by June 15 will be canceled.
  • June 30: HU pathway officially discontinued: PG&E will process final payments and complete CIP inspections.

Why Is Home Upgrade Changing?

Home Upgrade is evolving to more strongly emphasize comprehensive home energy retrofits that provide deepest energy savings and greatest value to customers. The Advanced Home Upgrade pathway typically delivers deeper and more cost-effective energy savings than the Home Upgrade/Basic pathway.

Overall, Home Upgrade has been a strong success, providing energy upgrades to thousands of of homes and creating consumer demand for home performance services. As a Participating Contractor, your business has played a key role in that success! But moving forward, programs like Home Upgrade must become more cost-effective—producing more energy savings per rebate dollar—in order for PG&E to support the California Public Utilities Commission’s (CPUC) goal to reduce energy consumption in existing homes by 40%.

Migrating to the Advanced Home Upgrade Pathway

One of Home Upgrade’s core goals has always been to create consumer demand for home performance services and to help contractors like you grow your business. That remains a core focus moving forward, and Build It Green will continue to provide support, training, and business opportunities.

In particular, BIG can help you transition to the Advanced Home Upgrade pathway. This incentive offering—based on a customized package of upgrades tailored to the needs of your customers—provides the largest rebate amounts, deepest energy savings, and greatest comfort. With each Advanced Home Upgrade job, you’ll be providing quality work for happier customers. Contact your Build It Green account representative to discuss how to get started.

To all Participating Contractors: Thank you for your hard work and continued partnership in the growing Home Upgrade program—and growing the home performance industry.

Effective Communication for Home Performance Contractors

Build It Green’s latest tips to help you spend less time on go-backs and remediating problems, so you can spend more time selling and installing new jobs.

Consistent, effective communication with customers before, during, and after a home performance installation is vital to any thriving contracting business. The satisfaction of your client base determines the capacity for your success and growth. Your profit is directly tied to your customer’s advocacy. Excellence in communication is a non-negotiable value. Build It Green is committed to providing ongoing mentoring and training for all our partners and clients participating in the Home Upgrade Program. We’ve compiled a few helpful communication tips contractors can utilize specifically for Home Upgrade Program jobs.

Root Your Communication in Core Values

Excellence in communication is a result of a professional culture (your business) with a strong set of core values. Each home performance contractor should have a set of core values that shape and guide communication with your staff and clients. These values will differ from business to business, but should be agreed upon, written down, and posted for reference.

Examples of core values may include:

  1. Quality: We will exceed customer expectations and not merely meet them.
  2. Innovation: We will be known for cutting-edge methods and product delivery. We consider ourselves leaders in this industry and commit to consistently training, researching, and implementing to stay at the forefront of home performance.
  3. Accountability: We will hold ourselves to the highest levels of professionalism in attitude and execution from top to bottom.
  4. Relationships: We will treat one another and our clients with honesty, respect, and integrity in word and action.
  5. Sustainability: We consider the health of our customers and our environment of utmost importance. As such, we are committed to supplying the latest in eco-friendly, efficient equipment, and service.

5 Characteristics of Effective Communication

Build It Green has identified five key characteristics of effective communication based upon our customer satisfaction scoring.

Successful home performance contractors:

  1. Educate the homeowner/customer on general energy efficiency & health and safety.
  2. Respond quickly to customer questions and needs (preferably by appointment or over the phone).
  3. Make sure their customers completely understand the work they are recommending and performing in their homes.
  4. Set expectations and follow up regularly (more than once) with their customer after the installation is done to ensure complete satisfaction and safety.
  5. Communicate all changes to their customer regardless if the change may improve the energy savings.

Customers are more likely to recommend businesses to their friends and family members if they experience direct, consistent, and honest communication from home performance companies. Even when the job encounters changes and/or delays, customers prefer to be given details, solutions, and confident assurance that their home, their money, and their time are in good hands with your business. Communicate often, communicate clearly, and communicate honestly.

7-Step Communication Process for Your Team

An example of a successful communication process for home performance work may include:

  1. Lead technician checks in with the homeowner on day 1 of installation to discuss the flow of work for the project and goes over a timeline for completion.
  2. Lead technician checks in with the homeowner on a day-to-day basis to discuss the work being performed that day and communicates any adjustments to the timeline for completion.
  3. Install team all introduces themselves to the homeowner on day 1 of installation. This creates a more personal experience and ensures the homeowner feels safe and valued as a customer.
  4. When all work is complete, lead technician completes “walk through” with the homeowner carefully explaining what was done and how this impacts comfort, safety, and energy efficiency.
  5. A follow-up call is made one week after installation is complete by the lead technician. The purpose of this call is to ensure equipment is working and homeowner is satisfied with the initial performance and comfort of the home.
  6. A follow-up call is made 14 days after installation is complete by an administrative staff member to ensure ongoing satisfaction.
  7. Maintenance inspections are performed by the lead technician on a yearly or bi-yearly basis.

Excellent communication with your customers requires consistent practice, evaluation, and adjustment. Get to know your customers. Ask them questions about their homes and families. Find out what they want, what they need, and what they like. Use this information to tailor your communication for an extraordinary customer experience. Your customer is your advocate, give them an incredible story to share!

Home Energy Score 2-Day Boot Camp | Santa Maria

Join us for a two-day boot camp to complete the online DOE Sim Training & Testing and score your first home with a mentor to become a qualified Home Energy Score Assessor.

Home Energy Score is a great way to enhance your business. You can supply customers with reliable home energy information to help them save money on energy costs and live more comfortably in their homes by becoming a Home Energy Score Assessor. We want to help you take the next steps in completing the Home Energy Score training and testing requirements.

Check your qualifications here:


Day 1- Classroom Training
When: Wednesday, March 14th | 8am-5pm
Classroom: Santa Maria Inn,  801 S Broadway, Santa Maria, CA 93454 (Kent Room)Day 2- Online Exam + Mentor AssessmentWhen: Thursday, March 15th | 8am-6pm
Classroom: Santa Maria Inn,  801 S Broadway, Santa Maria, CA 93454 (Kent Room)
Test House: TBD Santa Maria, CA

*Mentor Assessment | Must complete Sim Training to attend Mentor Assessment.

What to Expect

Day 1:

This full-day classroom computer training will prepare you to pass the DOE online simulation testing, which is required to offer the Home Energy Score. Led by a qualified mentor, we will begin the day with a simulation tutorial and walk you through completing a test house scenario. Mentors will also provide tips and tricks to completing the training and testing.

Day 2:

The morning classroom session run through the simulation tutorial and prepare you for taking the DOE online simulation test. The afternoon is comprised of a program mentor accompanying you on your first Home Energy Assessment. This will take approximately two hours and will count towards the mentoring requirements set forth by the program. Once you complete the Assessment, submit all required documentation and run the Score, you will be a qualified Home Energy Score Assessor!


Registration for the boot camp will close on Monday, March 12th. Cost to attend is $25, which includes lunch and refreshments on Day 1 and Day 2.

Cancellations / Refunds
View Build It Green’s Terms and Conditions 

What to bring:

Day 1

  • Laptop with wifi-capability (current version of Mozilla Firefox or Apple Safari web-browsers recommended) and Microsoft Excel 2007 or newer, to run the Assessor Calculator
  • Microsoft Excel 2007 or newer, to run the Assessor Calculator
  • Graph paper or notebook and pencil

Day 2

  • Tape Measure and/or Laser Measure
  • Graph paper or notebook and pencil
  • Clipboard
  • Digital Camera**
  • Calculator**

**Most cell phones have both

If you have any questions regarding the two-day boot camp training, please send an email to, or give us a call at (510) 285-6222.

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.

SoCalGas Incentive Funds Limited – Reserve Your Projects!

Due to the overwhelming success and limited incentive funds, the SoCalGas Home Upgrade program will need to close early in 2017. This change impacts only the SoCalGas side of the PG&E Home Upgrade Program.

  • Projects in areas solely served by PG&E will continue as normal.
  • Projects in PG&E/SCG split territory will include only the electric savings and incentive.

SoCalGas asks that reservations for 2017 funds be submitted by September 30.  Applications from shared PG&E/SCG territory will be considered “reserved” if a signed scope of work is submitted by September 30, 2017. It is imperative that you reserve your projects and receive confirmation as soon as possible and before you begin construction to protect your company from liability and maintain your good reputation with your customers. The SoCalGas incentive program will resume with new funds in 2018.

New: Safety and Quality Acknowledgment Form

An updated version of the Safety and Quality Acknowledgment (SQA) Form (pdf) has been uploaded to the document library. The following items are now included in the new form:

  • HVAC Permit Information

  • Heat Producing Devices Verification

  • GSR Field Order number (if applicable)

The old version of the SQA form will not be accepted after July 21. If you continue to use the old form until that deadline, please submit the HPD form with your supplemental documents. Please review this revised form and contact your Account Manager if you have questions.

AC & Pool Pump Kickers Expire July 31!

The eligibility for Advanced Home Upgrade AC & pool pump “kicker” incentives has changed.
In 2014-2017, PG&E offered Advanced Home Upgrade participants in eligible ZIP codes additional “kickers” of $400 for installation of ≥14 SEER/12 EER AC systems and $200 for the installation of variable speed pool pumps (must be turned off or set to low speed between 2 – 7 pm).

These kickers were designed to reduce demand on over-burdened electric sub-stations. The kickers will expire on July 31, 2017. If you have any jobs that may be impacted by this change, job status must be at least “Initial Pre-installation Submitted” by July 31, 2017 to still be processed with the kicker. The following ZIP codes were eligible for this kicker that expires July 31.

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.