Welcome to Your Association
On April 2 we announced the formation of the Building Performance Association (the Association) at the National Home Performance Conference in Chicago. We are a national industry association organized under the 501(c)(6) section of the IRS code. As an industry association we represent the broad (and yes, sometimes contradictory) interests of everyone who is significantly involved in residential energy efficiency retrofits and home performance. These stakeholders range from the one-truck home performance contractor to utilities and utility program implementers to manufacturers and suppliers of building products and equipment. It’s a big-tent, collaborative philosophy. Please visit our website at www.building-performance.org for more information on how to contact us and on how to join the Association.
How the Association Was Formed
The Association was formed through the realignment of three organizations, with a special link to BPI. The organizations that have been folded into the Association are Efficiency First (EF), Home Energy magazine (HEM), and the Home Performance Coalition (HPC), which itself was the result of a merger of Affordable Comfort, Incorporated, and the National Home Performance Coalition a half dozen years ago. There is a board of directors (17 members) made up of representatives of the organizations that created the Association plus a handful of at-large members.
The realignment process got under way with a meeting that was held at the National Home Performance Conference in Nashville in 2017. That fall, the boards of HEM (the corporate name was Energy Auditor and Retrofitter) and HPC voted to have the assets of HEM acquired by HPC. A Strategic Planning Committee was then formed and a Governance Committee, consisting of the board chairs and CEOs from EF, BPI, and HPC, was created to oversee the realignment process. Four representatives were selected by each organization to serve as the interim board, which then recruited an additional five at-large members. The full board was seated in November 2018 and a retreat was held in December to begin validating decisions made by the interim board. By February, the permanent officers had been elected, the Mission and Vision had been agreed to, and a final name was chosen—the Building Performance Association.
Naming the organization posed some challenges. Early on, we decided that the name would include the words building performance, even though we are currently focused on the residential retrofit market. We recognize that this may cause some confusion, but we didn’t want to have to change the name if and when we expand to address new construction and/or commercial buildings. Another major issue was whether the name should contain a geographic identifier, such as U.S. or National. For many reasons we ultimately decided not to use the geographic identifier.
BPI is the Association’s partner for certifications and standards, developing standards that promote quality throughout the entire industry and developing certifications based on those standards (for more info, go to www.BPI.org). BPI also provides the Association with a linkage to its network of 12,000 certified professionals, GoldStar contractors, Test Centers, and proctors. BPI has been a full partner in the realignment process, but unlike the other organizations involved, it has maintained both its identify and its organizational structure. As an ANSI-accredited standards development and certifying body, BPI is required to maintain its distinct status as a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization. BPI is linked to the Association through shared board members, and BPI’s CEO sits on the Executive Committee of the Association.
What the Association Will Do
The Association is a member-based organization. This is a new landscape for most of us, and we are just beginning to define what it means to advocate for our industry, manage conferences, deliver training, and produce a magazine in a member-driven environment.
As an industry association, our role is to create opportunities and remove barriers to success for our members. We are fortunate to have inherited a strong advocacy program at both the state and national levels from EF and HPC. But we also work to create opportunities through programs such as our support of HPXML, a data-transfer language that allows everyone from contractor to Realtor to utility to homeowner to access the same data about a home’s energy use, health features, and so on. And we are supporting Smart Homes programs and other initiatives that can advance our industry. Our educational events, which include national and regional conferences, local technical and business training, and ongoing webinars, as well as this magazine and our other communications platforms all also address these goals.
But there are still many needs to be met, and many opportunities out there to accomplish our mission of advancing the home performance industry. We will work very hard to cooperate with others who are in our industry—including all those reading this article—and collaborate on specific tasks, programs, and events where it is mutually beneficial.
On the Horizon
Several key issues are making their way toward the top of our priority list as we hear from our members and potential members.
We want to create an extensive and robust network of chapters and other allies at the state, local, and regional level as the foundation for the Association. Not only is there a network of state chapters that were affiliated with EF but there are contractor and industry organizations in several states and cities that were not affiliated with EF but whose goals seem to mesh with those of the Association. One thing we have learned in our discussions is that we can’t take a one size fits all approach. In some areas, a statewide chapter makes perfect sense. But in other areas it seems to make more sense to plan a chapter around a region, such as the tri-state region around Pittsburgh, or even just one (large) city, such as Chicago.
We also are hearing suggestions that we should develop a network of non-member-based allies at the state, regional, and local levels. There are many like-minded organizations, such as local green building networks, sustainable energy organizations, and community groups engaged in workforce development, that share our values and goals related to residential energy efficiency and home performance and that could be valuable allies on many fronts.
Our intent is to be flexible and to do what makes sense for our members. We encourage contractors and other stakeholders who are interested in forming a chapter or becoming an ally, or who simply want to explore the possibilities, to contact us.
Workforce development is at the top of almost everyone’s priority list. Most of us agree that a shortage of skilled and dedicated labor is our industry’s most pressing issue. And an unemployment rate hovering at a 50-year low isn’t helping. Issues include the aging workforce, the work preferences of Millennials, and competition for available workers from other construction trades. Elena Chrimat, owner of Ideal Energy in Phoenix, Arizona, says, “Our company has jobs scheduled several months out and we are paying higher wages than ever before, but our job openings still sit empty.” Other companies, including some of the large product manufacturers, recognize that the lack of available labor is costing them money.
Solving these thorny problems will be a top priority for the Association, and much of the solution is going to be found at the local level. We need to penetrate the white-collar/blue-collar divide to recruit salespeople, office managers, and other professionals into our businesses. And we likely need to develop aggressive outreach programs that recruit technical staff directly out of high school. But right now we have more questions than answers. Your input is welcome.
Smart technology offers an astonishing array of features and benefits that seemed like science fiction just a few years ago. Not only does smart tech allow us to remotely monitor and control an ever-increasing multitude of devices in our homes, but these systems are becoming more and more capable of being interconnected, extending even to the integration of renewables and electric vehicles.
The Building Performance Association, and its predecessors the HPC and the National Home Performance Council (NHPC), have been promoting the use of smart tech to advance residential energy efficiency and home performance since 2013, working with allies on summits, working groups, and reports as well as conducting numerous sessions at ACI/HPC conferences.
But where do we go from here? This technology affords us the opportunity to optimize the energy and comfort systems in our homes to a degree never before possible. And our homes can now be monitored by expert third parties and can participate in large-scale utility programs to manage loads and optimize grids. But we can’t allow this high-tech wizardry to push aside the bread-and-butter basics of home performance—air sealing, insulation, HVAC. These approaches must be integrated. But how? The SmartonSmart workshop we offered in conjunction with the National Home Performance Conference in Chicago is a start. Help us decide what else we need to do.
Another topic that is on everybody’s priority list is health. “In the past few years, people have become increasingly concerned about how their indoor environments may be affecting their health,” according to Bob Krell, founder and publisher of Healthy Indoors Magazine. “As public awareness grows, this trend towards healthier indoor spaces, and services and products to enhance them, will continue over the next decade and beyond. We spend nearly 90% of our time indoors, and a large part of that is at our residence each day. People are looking for healthy homes and many building performance-related services can play an important role in creating them.”
Over the years, HEM and ACI have focused a significant amount of attention on health issues ranging from lead poisoning to CO to mold. But as the Association, should we move beyond education? Some members of our community have developed significant programs tying health and home performance together. Examples include the Weatherization Assistance Program’s Weatherization plus Health initiative and the Healthy Home program at Children’s Mercy Hospital in Kansas City. And Connecticut and New York are working on large Medicaid pilots, using BPI’s Healthy Home Evaluator (HHE) credential to determine whether mitigating home health and safety hazards can be documented to improve health and quality of life.
What can the Association do to help promote these efforts? Is this something that should receive increased attention at our conferences and educational events? And what role can we play to ensure that the “healthy home” is a core service delivered by home performance contractors?
We’ve Taken the First Steps
It has been a considerable effort to combine the staff, boards, and decades of legacy into the Building Performance Association. But now the real work begins. Let us know what you think. Let us know where you think the Association’s priorities should lie. And let us know what you can do to help.
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