News & Updates

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.

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.

September 9, 2013

Using the SWS Online Tool Webinar - Now Available

Thank you to everyone who attended "Using the Standard Work Specifications Online Tool" webinar, which occurred on August 27, 2013. You can now watch a recorded version of the presentation.  If you have any remaining questions from this webinar, please email workforce.guidelines@nrel.gov.

August 12, 2013

Content Update: 7.8001.1 Refrigerator and Freezer Replacement

In Section 7 (Baseload) of the Standard Work Specifications for Single-Family Homes and Manufactured Housing, detail 7.8001.1a was recently updated to read: “Appliance shall be ENERGY STAR® rated.” This detail previously stated that appliances have an efficiency level of at least 40% better than minimum federal requirements.

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