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Standard Work Specifications for Home Energy Upgrades

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The Standard Work Specifications (SWS) for Home Energy Upgrades is an industry resource developed under the U.S. Department of Energy's (DOE) Guidelines for Home Energy Professionals project. DOE chose NREL to drive the technical aspects of the project, along with the communication and outreach efforts.

The SWS define the outcomes of quality work within the home energy upgrade industry, setting uniform expectations that can be leveraged in energy audits, scopes of work, quality control efforts, and training. The SWS reflect a whole-house approach to installing energy-efficiency measures and include ventilation, insulation, air sealing, and more. Safe work practices, relevant codes, and U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Healthy Indoor Environment Protocols for Home Energy Upgrades are also included in this resource.

Purpose of the Standard Work Specifications

The intended purpose of the SWS are to serve as a universal resource for the home energy upgrade industry and ensure that everyone can speak the same language and have the same expectations around work.

Designed to be different from other existing products on the market, the SWS describe the desired outcome of a particular task and the minimum conditions necessary to achieve that outcome rather than prescribing detailed instructions, materials, or techniques. This outcome-driven approach is intended to allow for process innovation and changes in technology, allowing the private market to stay involved in the ever-evolving weatherization industry.

These specifications also serve as the basis for the new Home Energy Professional Certifications, scheduled for availability during the summer of 2013.

How the SWS Were Developed

The SWS were developed in an open effort, combining the expertise of DOE's Weatherization Assistance Program (WAP) and the greater industry. As the largest group of home energy upgrade experts in the country, WAP was a natural fit, providing 30 years of building science and energy retrofit experience.

Program administrators, health and safety experts, weatherization contractors, product manufacturers, and federal partners at the EPA, Department of Agriculture (USDA), and Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) all took part in the initial development of the SWS for home energy upgrades.

The definition of quality work and the specifications for producing that work are a major step in establishing the residential energy upgrade profession as a sustainable national industry. Even if consumers and stakeholders do not have a technical understanding of what is contained in the SWS, the mere existence of a foundational resource with national acceptance has the potential to build confidence in the industry.

Contact Us

For more information on the SWS or the Guidelines for Home Energy Professionals project, contact workforce.guidelines@nrel.gov.