News & Updates

October 17, 2017

How the Updated SWS Will Affect the HEP Certification Exams

The below points are intended to clarify how the recent changes to the Standard Work Specifications (SWS) may impact those individuals studying for a Home Energy Professional Certification exam. If you have any additional questions, please email workforce.guidelines@nrel.gov.
 
  • The SWS have been updated to SWS Version 2017 (SWS v.2017). 
  • SWS v.2017 is the first major update to the SWS and reflects all adjudication efforts since the launch of the SWS Online Tool in 2014.
  • Individuals can view all specifications that were changed via the 2017 Master Key and the 2017 SWS Comment Spreadsheet. Additional information can be found on the SWS Maintenance page.
  • These updates reflect current industry best practices and should have minimal, if any, affect on the Home Energy Professional Certification exams.
  • However, individuals preparing for the exams should continue using the previous versions of the SWS (available below) until the Quality Control Inspector (QCI) and Energy Auditor (EA) exams are aligned with SWS v.2017.
  • We expect the new QCI and EA exams to be updated by late summer 2018.
Previous versions of the SWS:
September 5, 2017

SWS Content Updates Are Completed

Content updates were successfully made to the Standard Work Specifications (SWS) Online Tool. The updates include the adjudication of 288 comments submitted via the SWS Online Tool since May 2, 2014 and a crosswalk of all three housing types in the Health and Safety Section. User’s online field guides are likely to have changed; please refer the 2017 Master Key document on the SWS Maintenance page to locate specifications that may now have different numbers. Please send any questions you may have to workforce.guidelines@nrel.gov. We thank you for your cooperation in helping refine and update this valuable resource.
July 18, 2017

SWS Content Updates Are Coming

Content updates will be made to the Standard Work Specifications (SWS) Online Tool beginning on August 1, 2017. (These updates are the result of all user comments that were submitted and approved since May 2, 2014. For more information about the overall SWS Maintenance Process, visit the SWS Maintenance page.) During this time, the tool will still be available to users, however, the content will be in flux until all changes are made.

Therefore, before we begin all content updates on August 1, 2017, users may wish to do the following:

We expect to complete all updates by August 31, 2017. Once the updates are completed, we will alert users via the site banner and via email. Please send any questions you may have to workforce.guidelines@nrel.gov and we thank you in advance for your cooperation.

December 28, 2016

New Case Study: Arizona Leverages Industry Standards to Improve Home Performance Program

To read more about the positive impact that the Standard Works Specifications (SWS) are having on the home performance industry, check out this recent blog post + case study from the U.S. Department of Energy's Better Buildings program.
October 11, 2016

2016 SWS Maintenance Update

The Standard Work Specifications are maintained through the submission of comments by industry experts throughout the year. Comments can be submitted at anytime through the SWS Online Tool. The below section contains a summary of comments that were received, reviewed, and adjudicated in 2015/2016.

SWS Maintenance Update

A total of 94 comments, received prior to October 31, 2015, were reviewed and adjudicated by the following committees: Health & Safety Committee, HVAC & Baseload, and Air Sealing & Infiltration. The resulting updates are displayed in the 2016 SWS Redline documents, which also contain all updates made during the 2015 Combustion Safety Maintenance Update. The 2016 SWS Comment Spreadsheet details the specific comments and adjudication responses. The 2016 SWS Redline documents and Comment Spreadsheet can be found via the SWS Maintenance page.

The changes represented in the redline versions and comment spreadsheet will be officially integrated into the SWS Online Tool by October 2017. Redline documents can be used as a reference by users who are looking for the most up-to-date industry standards. 

Please note: At this time, Weatherization Assistance Program (WAP) grantees are NOT required to revise their field guides in accordance with the redline documents.

What's Next

Users continue to have the ability to submit comments via the SWS Online Tool. The next regularly scheduled SWS comment review will occur on March 19, 2017, held in conjunction with the HPC National Home Performance Conference​This event is open to the public. All new comments must be received by January 20, 2017 in order to be reviewed at this meeting. All comments submitted after this date will be reviewed at a later time.

February 17, 2016

Call for Applications: Quality Control Inspector Practitioners and Experts

The U.S. Department of Energy's (DOE) National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) is currently seeking enthusiastic industry practitioners to participate on the Home Energy Professional (HEP) Quality Control Inspector (QCI) Job Task Analysis (JTA) and the QCI Scheme Maintenance Committees.

The QCI JTA Committee will be comprised of novice to expert single-family home energy professionals who will review the JTA-validation process and potentially revise the existing QCI JTA, developed in 2011. The committee will be responsible for facilitating revisions to the JTA over a two-year term, beginning in 2016.

The QCI Scheme Maintenance Committee will be a subcommittee of the QCI JTA Committee and comprised only of subject matter experts responsible for maintaining the scheme components to ensure the scheme aligns with current industry best practices. The committee members will be responsible for maintaining the certification scheme over a four-year term.

The estimated level of effort for both committees is approximately 4 hours per month.

Individuals who are interested in serving on the committee(s) are invited to submit their application via an online web formApplications must be received by March 15, 2016.

December 2, 2015

2015 SWS Maintenance Update

Comments received on Section 2.02: Combustion Safety of the SWS prior to July 12015 were reviewed by the Health & Safety Committee on August 8, 2015 to reach consensus and align the SWS with industry standards, such as the ANSI/BPI-1200-S-2015 Standard Practice for Basic Analysis of Buildings, recently released by the Building Performance Institute, Inc. (BPI). The committee reviewed 44 comments and performed a crosswalk of the entire 2.02: Combustion Safety section to make updates and align the standards. Updates were also made to Details 5.3003.14 & 15: Heating & Cooling – Forced Air, to align these Details with BPI-1200. The comments were adjudicated and the committee provided feedback for their actions. A redline version of this section was created for future integration into the SWS Online Tool. The 2015 Combustion Safety comment report and the SWS Combustion Safety redline documents will be available via this page after January 1, 2016. Redline documents can be used as reference by users who are looking for the most up-to-date industry standards.

Please note: At this time, WAP grantees are not required to revise their field guides in accordance with the redline documents.

View this presentation to learn more.

September 23, 2015

Attending the 2015 Rocky Mountain Utility Efficiency Exchange?

Are you headed to the Rocky Mountain Utility Efficiency Exchange next week in Aspen, Colorado? Representatives from the NREL team will be there. Stop by the networking poster session on Friday night and/or attend the Residential Snapshot Panel on Saturday afternoon to learn how you can use the SWS Online Tool to generate energy audits, scopes of work, quality control reports, and training materials. Additionally, learn how to access the SWS Field Guide Template in order to create step-by-step guides for implementingweatherization measures, which include the necessary tools and materials, illustrated instructions, before/after photos, and additional notes.  
August 12, 2015

Video: The Standard Work Specifications (SWS) in Action

This short video series not only talks about why the Standard Work Specifications (SWS) were developed, but it also provides examples of how to use them in the field: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=urc8GYajCVs&list=PLaGHehoZpPuB-wkcTLShhwCxzPTzzazWO

Special thanks to Chris Baker, Energy Training and Technical Assistance Coordinator for the FSL Southwest Building Science Training Center in Phoenix, Arizona.

June 17, 2015

Enhanced Print Functionality Now Available

If you are interested in printing/saving all of the Standard Work Specifications for a particular housing type, please use the following links:

This enhanced print functionality is in beta release. Due to the intensive data processing required to generate each Web page, we recommend that you use a Web browser such as Google Chrome or Firefox.

May 21, 2015

Creating a Field Guide Using the SWS

Did you know that you can create a customized field guide for your state or agency, based on the Standard Work Specifications (SWS)? This feature was piloted by the Weatherization Assistance Network and is now available to the industry at large. The SWS Field Guide template allows users to create a step-by-step guide for implementing a vast array of weatherization measures and includes a list of necessary tools and materials, illustrated instructions, before/after photos, and additional notes. As of June 2017, all new and existing users should have access to the template via their My Account tab. Please contact workforce.guidelines@nrel.gov with any questions or concerns.

 

December 18, 2014

SWS Planned Tool Outage - Saturday, January 10, 2014

The Standard Work Specifications (SWS) Tool website will be inaccessible on Saturday, January 10, from 8:00 a.m. until 1:00 p.m. Mountain Standard Time due to a U.S. Department of Energy-required critical security upgrade.

Please contact us with questions or to report any issues following the upgrade.

December 15, 2014

Video: Raising the Bar within the Weatherization and Home Performance Industry

The Weatherization Assistance Program (WAP) was created in 1976 to assist low-income families who lacked resources to invest in energy efficiency. Through the services and education this program provides, participants experience an increase in health and comfort and a reduction in energy bills. Many times these savings have a huge impact on the household. This video not only shines a light of the existing success of the WAP, but it also takes a look at its recent evolution through the Guidelines for Home Energy Professionals project. This particular effort has brought a greater sense of unity to the industry, defining quality work, quality workers, and quality training.  Watch the video now: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=73BUtF1TzOo​

July 15, 2014

SWS Updates in Progress

The first ever Standard Work Specifications (SWS) Maintenance Committee meetings were held on Monday, April 28, 2014 in Detroit, MI, which preceded the 2014 ACI National Home Performance Conference. Twenty-two subject matter experts, split amongst four technical sub-committees, reviewed one hundred eighty comments that were submitted prior to the event. On Friday, May 2, 2014, an Executive Committee meeting was held with all committee chairs to resolve any crosscutting issues and comments flagged for further discussion.

All comments have been resolved and SWS content is currently being updated. Please keep this in mind as you are using the SWS Online Tool.

Another announcement will be sent once all SWS content updates have been completed. Please visit the SWS Maintenance page to view the 2014 SWS Maintenance Report, and to view all comments that were submitted prior to this year's April 21, 2014 deadline.

Thank you for your patience and understanding during this period of maintenance, and please send any questions to workforce.guidelines@nrel.gov.

May 14, 2014

Proposed Updates to the SWS

The first ever Standard Work Specifications (SWS) Maintenance Committee meetings were held on Monday, April 28, 2014 in Detroit, MI, which preceded the 2014 ACI National Home Performance Conference.  22 subject matter experts, split amongst 4 technical sub-committees, reviewed 180 comments that were submitted prior to the event.  Although the day was long, committees participated in some great discussions around which comments should be accepted, which should be accepted with modification, and which should not be accepted.

On Friday, May 2, 2014, an Executive Committee meeting was held with all committee chairs to resolve any cross-cutting issues and comments flagged for further debate.  

Comment resolutions are now being reviewed by the NREL technical team and users can expect all updates to be made by the end of this summer.  Any further questions may be sent to workforce.guidelines@nrel.gov and any further comments may be submitted through the tool.

April 21, 2014

Comment Period Closed for 2014 SWS Maintenance Event

Comments are no longer being accepted for the 2014 SWS maintenance event.  Users of the SWS Online Tool are still able to submit comments, however they will not be formally reviewed until the next scheduled SWS maintenance event.To comment, users will first need to log into the SWS Online Tool and navigate to the desired specification (please note: the comment option will not be visible if you are not logged in). Users will then be able to leave a comment or a question by selecting the Comment button. Once submitted, that comment will be held for review. Users are able to review all comments that they have made by selecting the My Account link at the top of the site, and then choosing Comments.If you would like to leave a general comment or would like to suggest new content, please send your comment(s) to workforce.guidelines@nrel.gov.
April 10, 2014

SWS Maintenance Committees to Convene at the 2014 ACI National Home Performance Conference

To ensure that the Standard Work Specifications (SWS) continue to be a consensus-based, centralized resource for promoting best practices and maintaining consistency throughout the home performance industry, an SWS maintenance committee will inform regular revisions of the SWS in accordance with current home performance industry best practices. 

The first committee meetings will be held on Monday, April 28, 2014 from 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. EDT. All stakeholders are invited to observe the proceedings at the Cobo Center, as a pre-conference event in conjunction with the 2014 ACI National Home Performance Conference. Please see the table below for the committee and the associated room. A plenary discussion will take place at 9:00 a.m., with individual committee meetings commencing at approximately 10:30 a.m.   

Event

Room

SWS Maintenance Event Plenary and Health & Safety Committee

420A

Air Sealing & Insulation Committee

420B

HVAC Committee

430A

Baseload Committee

430B

 

The subcommittees will be addressing technical comments that have already been submitted on the SWS, as well as providing feedback on the usability of the SWS Online Tool. New comments will not be addressed at the SWS maintenance event; all comments on the SWS need to be submitted by April 21, 2014 in order to be considered.

March 25, 2014

Photos Needed for the SWS Field Guide Template

NREL wants your best weatherization photos!  These photos will be uploaded to the new SWS Field Guide Flickr group and uniformly tagged. The photos will also be available for individuals and organizations to use when creating Field Guides based on the SWS.

Specifically, individuals are encouraged to submit photos for the following topics:

  • Window repair and replacement
  • Sealing and insulating attics and basements/crawl spaces
  • Connecting and insulating ductwork
  • Installing and repairing exhaust fans/vents

Please note that step-by-step images are especially useful for the template. If you are interested in submitting photos, please contact Deborah.lastowka@nrel.gov for further information and thank you in advance for your support of this effort. 

March 10, 2014

SWS Field Guide Template Now Available

In December 2013, the U.S. Department of Energy officially made available its new Quality Work Plan (QWP) requirement, further raising the bar within the Weatherization Assistance Program (WAP) and setting an example for high quality and assurance within the industry at large.  

One critical component of the new QWP requires state grantees to align their field guides to reflect the desired outcomes of the Standard Work Specifications (SWS). In order to assist states with this task, NREL, in collaboration with the WAP field guide collaborative, recently developed a new field guide template that allows users to create custom field guides that identify the necessary tools, materials and steps, as well as before and after photos, all from within the SWS Online Tool. Completed field guides can also be shared with other users. For more information on how this functionality works and to request access, please contact workforce.guidelines@nrel.gov.

February 24, 2014

SWS Commenting Tool Now Available

The National Renewable Energy Laboratory is pleased to announce that users of the SWS Online Tool now have the ability to submit comments from directly within the website. This feature was developed in order to support the SWS as a living resource that adapts to advancements in technology and understanding. Users are encouraged to submit comments, which will be reviewed at the first SWS maintenance committee, set to convene at the 2014 ACI National Home Performance Conference. To ensure that your comments are reviewed this year, please submit them by COB April 21, 2014.

To comment, users will need to first log into the SWS Online Tool and navigate to the desired specification (please note: the comment option will not be visible if you are not logged in). Users will then be able to leave a comment or a question by selecting the Comment button. Once submitted, that comment will be held for review. Users are able to review all comments that they have made by selecting the My Account link at the top of the site, and then choosing Comments.

If you would like to leave a general comment or would like to suggest new content, please send your comment(s) to workforce.guidelines@nrel.gov.

Learn more about the SWS maintenance and review process here.  

February 6, 2014

NREL Seeking Comments on the SWS

The National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) is seeking technical comments on the Standard Work Specifications (SWS) as part of its effort to maintain a consensus-based, centralized resource for promoting best practices and maintaining consistency throughout the home performance industry. Comments will be evaluated and processed by SWS maintenance committees, scheduled to convene at the 2014 ACI National Home Performance Conference. More information on the committees and maintenance process is available here.

NREL is currently developing a formal SWS commenting tool to streamline and simplify the commenting process. Before this commenting tool becomes available, please submit any comments on the SWS to workforce.guidelines@nrel.gov.

December 3, 2013

Now Accepting Applications for SWS Maintenance Committees

The National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) is currently seeking enthusiastic industry practitioners who are interested in discussing, evaluating, and voting on proposed changes/updates to the Standard Work Specifications (SWS) for single-family home, multifamily home, and manufactured housing energy upgrades.

Individuals who are interested in serving on the 2014 SWS maintenance committees are invited to submit their credentials via an online application. Completed applications are due by 5:00 p.m. Mountain Standard Time (MST) on Friday, January 10, 2014.  The appointed 2014 SWS maintenance committees will meet in conjunction with the 2014 ACI National Home Performance Conference.

SWS define the minimum requirements to ensure that the work performed during home energy upgrades is effective, durable, and safe. NREL and the U.S. Department of Energy's Weatherization Assistance Program (WAP) developed the SWS in collaboration with industry subject matter experts, program administrators, health and safety experts, weatherization contractors, and product manufacturers. Federal partners at the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), U.S. Department of Agriculture, and U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development also contributed to the soundness of the SWS.

After a multi-year development and review period involving both industry stakeholders and the WAP, the SWS became available for public use in 2013.  In order to maintain the SWS as a living resource that adapts to advancements in technology and understanding, a formal SWS maintenance process will inform regular revisions of the SWS in accordance with current home performance industry best practices.  A large component of the maintenance process is the designation of annual SWS maintenance committees that will review all comments submitted against the current version of the SWS.  Learn more about the SWS maintenance process here.  

Please note: NREL is currently in the process of developing a formal commenting tool. Before this commenting tool becomes available however, all comments to the SWS may be sent to workforce.guidelines@nrel.gov.

October 18, 2013

Content Update: 6.9901.1 Supplemental Ventilation Information—ASHRAE 62.2

The Calculation of the Infiltration Credit referenced in 6.9901.1 Supplemental Ventilation Information—ASHRAE 62.2 was updated to reflect changes made to ASHRAE Standard 62.2 with the revision to the 2013 version. Significant changes occured with the update to the 2013 version of the standard, which are now reflected in the Standard Work Specifications. The content was updated because the calculation of the infiltration credit was simplified.

October 15, 2013

Accredited Home Energy Professional Certifications Assure Quality within the Industry

With the announcement of the newly accredited Home Energy Professional certifications, the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) continues to reaffirm its commitment to supporting an effective and highly skilled weatherization workforce.

On September 27, 2013 the Building Performance Institute, Inc. (BPI) announced that all four Home Energy Professional (HEP) certifications were awarded accreditation by the American National Standards Institute (ANSI).

The four certifications—Quality Control Inspector, Energy Auditor, Crew Leader, and Retrofit Installer Technician—are the only home performance credentials that are supported by DOE and accredited by ANSI.

ANSI ISO 17024 accreditation is the global benchmark for personnel certifications across all industries and is designed to ensure consistency and impartiality throughout the certification process. Recognized as the gold standard, ISO 17024 accreditation of the HEP certifications allows consumers and program administrators to validate contractor experience with credentials that are a strong indicator of worker competence and performance.

With the launch of the certifications, interested individuals can now find accredited training centers that support the new HEP certifications, apply to take a certification exam, and, if approved, schedule to take the exam at a participating testing center.  A national registry of HEP-certified workers also makes it easy to find these certified home energy professionals. 

A Larger Vision

This milestone follows the availability of the Standard Work Specifications (SWS) for Home Energy Upgrades, which is another major component of the overarching Guidelines for Home Energy Professionals project. The SWS define quality work within the weatherization industry and provide a common language to workers, employees, inspectors, utilities, and homeowners. The SWS also serve as a basis to the accredited HEP certifications, which reflect a worker's knowledge of these vetted industry-developed standards.

The availability of the accredited certifications, the SWS for all three housing types (single family, multifamily and manufactured housing), and accredited training programs brings a new level of confidence and trust to the weatherization industry, and provides even more reassurance for employees, employers, consumers, and utilities.

Read more about the Guidelines for Home Energy Professionals project.

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