Quality Work Plan (QWP)
The Department of Energy (DOE) is requiring that all States receiving weatherization assistance program (WAP) funds implement a Quality Work Plan (QWP). This plan is being phased in and is expected to be fully compliant by April 1, 2015. The 10 CFR 440.12(b)(6) requires each Grantee application for WAP funding to include a monitoring plan. This monitoring plan shall indicate the method used by the State to insure the quality of work and adequate financial management control at the subgrantee level. Pursuant to 10 CFR 440.12(b)(6), the DOE WAP is instituting a QWP that will establish benchmarks for energy efficiency retrofits in the Program.
The QWP defines specifications for work quality, workforce training and the qualifications required for individuals performing inspections of WAP work. The requirements are based on the resources developed under the Guidelines for Home Energy Professionals project (energy.gov). Adopting these benchmarks for quality allows the WAP to leverage the institutional knowledge, developed over 30 years, to set the standard for quality in the Program.
Quality Control Inspection (QCI)
In July of 2010, a group of 13 Subject Matter Experts (SMEs) met to perform the Job Task Analysis and to create an examination blueprint that would serve as the basis for the worker certification. A Quality Control Inspector (QCI) is a residential energy efficiency professional who ensures the completion, appropriateness, and quality of energy upgrade work by conducting a methodological audit/inspection of the building, performing safety and diagnostic tests, and observing the work. A committee of SMEs considered to be experts in the field created the Quality Control Inspector Job Task Analysis.
A Quality Control Inspector is an evaluator who verifies the work performed against the work plan, specifications and standards, performs building diagnostics, records/reports findings and concerns, and specifies corrective actions; by conducting a methodological audit/inspection of the building, performing safety and diagnostic tests, and by observing the retrofit work; in order to ensure the completion, appropriateness and quality of the work providing for the safety, comfort, and energy savings of the building occupants.
Subrecipient DOE QCI Process
In accordance with WPN15-4, the Department of Energy (DOE) requires all units completed, reported, and paid for using DOE funds must have the final inspection of that unit conducted by a Quality Control Inspector (QCI). The Department of Housing and Community Affairs needs to know ahead of time the process that each Subrecipient is using when it comes to completing and reporting any and all DOE units.
Please complete this form at the beginning of each program year, and update this form anytime there are changes at your agency that impact this process. Once submitted, the Department will utilize this information to plan for future monitoring visits.
QCI Certification Process
The steps below are designed to be a guide for the subrecipients within the WAP network of Texas to obtain QCI training and certification for their respective staff:
Step 1: Review Staff Qualifications
Building Performance Institute, Inc. (BPI) has posted information at www.bpi.org (application, prerequisite criteria, certification scheme handbook) for your review. Staff must have the appropriate experience in order to initiate the QCI Certification training and exams. Not every WAP employee needs to be a certified QCI, so choose the appropriate staff to send.
The QCI test should not be taken lightly, while there have been efforts by training facilities to improve the outcomes of the attendees, most individuals will need to study and understand the requirements to pass and obtain their certification.
Step 2: Apply to BPI for Certification
In order to receive clearance to take the exam, each applicant must provide evidence of the appropriate experience. Experience and training gained during the ARRA-WAP program should be enough to receive clearance. Collect documentation of training/experience in:
- Site visits, inspections, diagnostic testing, etc.
- Crew Leader/Energy Auditor
- Building experience
- Training from industry specific training center
- Industry Certifications (BPI, EPA, OSHA, RESNET, etc.)
If there are certificates or letters for the certification or training, include those documents. Otherwise, describe the experience as specifically as possible in a letter written on organizational letterhead signed by the program manager or executive staff.
Specific dates are not required as much as specific information.
An example could be: "During ARRA-WAP, our organization weatherized 500 units. John Doe completed 300 energy audits" which involved 1000 hours or "John Doe completed 400 unit inspections which involved 1,400 hours" would best position a candidate to receive sufficient credit.
Another example could be: "John Doe attended 30 hours of OSHA training and his card is attached" or John Doe attended Energy Audit training at the TDHCA Weatherization Academy and his certificate is attached" should suffice. Other relevant training may be considered at BPI's discretion but they are seeking a specific amount of hours to award points for acquired training. An example could be "John Doe attended a two day First Aid and Safety training and his certificate is attached." The best way to get this training recognized is to say "John Doe received 16 hours of First Aid and Safety training and his certificate is attached". BPI is looking for number of relevant hours not number of trainings, so find out how many hours the specific training covered to have the best chance of being recognized by BPI. You must accrue at least 40 points on the application to be considered for testing. The document at the link below may be used as a proof of industry inspector-specific experience.
BPI will review the submitted documentation and will send a letter of approval to the email address indicated in the application. When Department staff applied, it took at least two weeks before the first staff person received an approval letter back, but times may vary. Make sure that the email address you provide is a good address and add BPI to your list of allowed senders so the email does not get blocked. Each person must have this letter in order to take the written portion of the exam.
Step 3: Procure for Certification Class
Subrecipients MUST PROPERLY PROCURE for these services to obtain the training and take the required tests for this certification. Make sure to use and follow all appropriate procurement procedures depending on the amount you will spend. T&TA funds to cover the training are included in the 2013 and 2014 DOE contracts. Use the Department's Community Affairs Procurement for further guidance on this procurement process.
Agencies should consider the total cost of the training and travel expenses when determining vendor selection. A vendor may have the lowest training cost however the travel cost may result in a higher total cost for the agency.
While travel costs should not be included as part of the training provider procurement, agencies should consider travel costs as part of the decision making process of selecting the vendor.
The training can only be provided by organizations accredited by the Interstate Renewable Energy Council ("IREC").
List of IREC accredited sites (www.irecusa.org)
Contact the sites you may be interested in to get price quotes, schedules, and any other information you may need. Talk to them about any special requests you may have, especially if someone on your staff may need some sort of accommodation (i.e. extra time for someone with a learning disability). You will be paying them lots of money for this, make sure your needs are met. When making arrangements for training, ensure that the prices you are quoted include all training and all testing. In most cases, the written exam is an additional charge.
When making arrangements for training, ensure that the provider you are working with is IREC accredited for QCI so that your employees are eligible to obtain the certification.
Email/fax a copy of the BPI approval letter to the provider you have selected. Without this letter you may attend training and take the field exam, but you will not be allowed to take the written test until they have the approval letter.
Step 4: Schedule Training Class for Qualified Staff
Do not wait until Spring 2015 to begin the process. Get the training and testing out of the way now. As of April 2014, the Department was informed there was a 60% pass rate nationwide. Subrecipients should anticipate that some individuals might not pass the tests on the first try and will have to re-test. It is possible to pass the written test and fail the field test or vice versa. Individuals will need to re-test for test that they did not pass.
Step 5: Practice and Study for Certification Tests
Staff must spend time at a house practicing each aspect of the training (assessments, diagnostic equipment use, client file documentation, etc.) and must practice audits prior to attending the training. Management should ensure that staff is well versed on all the requirements prior to training/testing to give the best chance to pass. Having staff study in a group where they can question and challenge each other could be a great way to prepare for the exams.
The written test is a multiple choice computerized test containing 100 questions. These questions are randomly generated from a larger bank of questions, so everybody will have a different bundle of questions on their test. Candidates should study and continue to review the Job Task Analyses (JTAs) and Standard Work Specifications (SWS). Additional guidance has been provided in the QCI addendum listed below. This information should also be reviewed prior to attempting the written exam.
Note that the Quality Control Inspector is expected to be well versed in ALL of the SWS and JTAs. Studying the SWS and JTAs will go a long way in preparation. For a list of topics covered in the training and on the exams, read the BPI Quality Control Inspector Field Guide (www.bpi.org).
- Manometer set up for diagnostic testing
- Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) standards pertaining to weatherization practices
- Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) standards pertaining to weatherization practices
- Insulation installation requirements
- Draft testing procedures
- Appliance spillage periods
- CAZ depressurization limits chart
- Worst case depressurization setup, sub-cooling/superheat for Heating Ventilation and Air Conditioning (HVAC), American Society of Heating, Refrigerating and Air-Conditioning Engineers (ASHRAE), carbon monoxide (CO) action levels and testing procedures, mathematical determinations (square footage, dense packing sidewalls calculations), etc.
In addition there will be questions on the exam that require the person to use their judgment; the Department does not have a list of those questions. However, some of the sample questions in the practice test (see the document at the link below) will give individuals some idea of the nature of these questions.
Field guides that the field test will be based on (www.bpi.org)
On this website look under Home Energy Professional and select the link labeled Quality Control Inspector. This is essentially the grading rubric for the field test proctor; they are not hiding it from anyone. Candidates will have to address all the points outlined on this two-page field guide. Items with (GATED ITEM) next to them are automatic fail items – if the candidate skips or misses one of those items, it is an automatic fail for the field test (even if they covered every other item on the field guide).
Make sure to be particularly comfortable with these and practice them. Candidates will be permitted to have notes during the field exam only. Individuals will be allowed to test in any order they are comfortable with and may create a script to follow that covers every item listed. Candidates may include tables from the BPI field guides that are as detailed as necessary. We recommend you follow a process you are already comfortable with. A proctor will be with you the entire time and the process will be filmed. Interaction with the proctor will be necessary to gather information one will need to complete the field test.
There is a three hour time limit so take your time but make sure you cover every point on the field guide. The guidance below will help candidates understand the field test and what they will be expected to know.
Review client file and work scope
- This is the same process that goes on in the regular weatherization work process – check for applicable/necessary signatures; review the audit for accuracy; review work order and change orders; interpret diagnostic test results in relation to the work scope; document any repairs or H&S items; etc.
Interior/Exterior Walk Around
- This is the same process that goes on in the regular weatherization work process – zero out gas detector and CO monitor outside; identify any jobsite hazards; make sure all billed measures are properly installed in accordance with SWS and local codes/standards; etc.
Address work problems
- Any need for re-work order? Any missed opportunities?
Diagnostic Testing and Combustion Safety Test Videos
- Review the QCI section of Weatherization Training Videos
Finish the Project
- This is the same process that goes on in the regular weatherization work process - determination of pass/fail for work; close out project; maintain files and records; other; etc.
If you have questions, please contact the Department. To request training, submit a Request for Community Affairs Program Assistance.
Step 6: Take the Test and Do Your Best
Attend the training class. Pay attention. Take notes. Ask as many relevant/helpful questions as you can think of. Prepare for the tests to the best of your abilities. Do your best. If necessary, re-take the test. Note: The QCI Field and Written tests can be attempted three times per year. For example, if a candidate's first attempt is December 1, 2014 and they do not pass either test, they can re-take the test two more times between December 1, 2014 and December 1, 2015.
Strategy to take the written exam:
- Although each individual will have their own strategy to take the test of 100 multiple choice questions, there are some tools provided on the test that may help develop a personal strategy. As part of the test, candidates will have an option to:
- answer each individual question and move onto the next question;
- skip the question for review at a later time and move onto the next question;
- or answer the question and mark it for review at a later time.
- The options for all exam questions are tracked in the upper left hand portion of the test. Candidates will be allowed to return to the questions that have been unanswered or those that have been marked for review by simply clicking on the link provided in the left hand corner. This information can be used to ensure that you are budgeting your time appropriately and not leaving any questions blank before clicking the submit button.
- There is a 2.5 hour time limit to complete the written exam so make sure you read the questions thoroughly. Your goal is to select the best answer. There may be a couple of right answers, but you must choose the best answer for the given situation.
Step 7: Resources for Subsequent Testing
The Building Performance Institute (BPI) will now provide a report of the test results to candidates who take the Home Energy Professional Quality Control Inspector written exam. This report will indicate the candidate’s success rate in the various subject areas of the exam. Candidates can use this information to determine where more preparation may be needed to improve their chance of passing subsequent exams. This report is now available to all candidates who have taken the exam since the national roll-out of the certification. Instructions for accessing the testing reports are below:
- Go to https://www.bpi.org/home_pros.aspx (www.bpi.org) – at the very top of the page hover over “Login” and select “Testing and CEU Portal”
- On this new page select “Candidate Login” under the “Candidate Section”
- Enter your existing candidate ID number and password that you use to log into any BPI area (will start with a “5” e.g., 5xxxxxx). You can request the ID or password on this screen if you have forgotten it.
- Once logged in you will see a “Testing Reports” tab under the BPI logo on the left side. Select the tab.
- If you have taken a QCI written exam after the pilot period, you will see it listed here – NOTE: This is only for the QCI exam at this time; no others will show. Select the “view stats” button on the right side
- This page will highlight in red the items related to questions you answered incorrectly, and will highlight in green items related to questions you answered correctly.
- The Department QCI webpage: https://www.tdhca.state.tx.us/community-affairs/wap/quality-work-plan.htmOpen up STEP 5 tab for resource links and go through them.
Candidate Application for Special Testing Accommodations: https://www.bpi.org/tools_downloads.aspx?selectedTypeID=8&selectedID=116 You may “Self Identify” needing special testing accommodations; like having additional time.
QCI Recertification Requirements
- Revised Recertification Requirements (PDF) – September 28, 2015
QCI Supplemental Multifamily Training
According to the Department of Energy, “Final inspections in multifamily buildings must be performed by inspectors who are QCI-Certified and have received appropriate supplemental multifamily training.”
QCI certified inspectors must attend and receive a successful evaluation from a program delivering a curriculum based on the NREL Multifamily Quality Control Inspector Job Task Analysis.
As of July 21, 2016, DOE lists these centers as qualified Multifamily QCI-JTA centers.
- Association for Energy Affordability (AEA), New York City and San Francisco Bay Area https://aea.us.org
- New Mexico Energy Smart Academy, Santa Fe, NM www.energysmartacademy.com
- Community Housing Partners (CHP), Christiansburg, VA https://www.communityhousingpartners.org
Steps to take in order to receive the Supplemental Multifamily Training
- Obtain QCI Certification as described in previous section
- Procure for training services by contacting the available training centers
- Complete training at qualified training center
***Travel costs associated in obtaining this certification may be charged to the Training and Technical Assistance Section of your contract.