ACCA Quality Assured Program Growing Stronger


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ACCA’s Quality Assured (QA) Program continues to gain momentum. The QA Program was developed at the request of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) ENERGY STAR Program for Qualified New Homes to identify contractors to install HVAC systems per the checklist ENERGY STAR developed in accordance with the ACCA 5 Quality Installation (QI) Standard. In the latest ENERGY STAR program version (3.0), only HVAC contractors recognized by the accredited organizations (e.g., the QA Program) may install HVAC systems in homes that seek to be qualified by ENERGY STAR. The QA Program is open to all qualified HVAC contractors and elements of their system installations are verified by specially trained raters.

ENERGY STAR Raises The Bar

For over a decade, the EPA has been raising the bar in home energy performance. It began in October 1996 when the EPA launched ENERGY STAR for new homes, which recognized homes that were 30 percent more energy efficient than homes built to meet the existing model code requirements. ENERGY STAR subsequently developed specifications for residential heating and cooling products. With each passing year, the new homes program grew in public awareness and size, even expanding to include manufactured homes.

By 2003, half of the top U.S. homebuilders were participating in ENERGY STAR for New Homes. 2006 proved to be a big year for the program with 200,000 single family homes earning the ENERGY STAR label. That year also saw a revision of the program specification, which went into effect in November. Three years later, the total number of qualified homes built surpassed the 1 million mark. Building on this momentum, the requirements for the new homes program were raised again.

The more rigorous Version 3.0 stipulates that homes must now be compliant with the requirements of the ANSI/ACCA 5 QI Standard in order to receive the ENERGY STAR label. Qualifying homes must have all of the items on an HVAC System Quality Installation Contractor Checklist completed; noncompliance with any item will prevent homes from earning the label. This inspection checklist was designed specifically to align with the protocols in the ACCA 5 QI Standard.

Further, the HVAC system installation work will be third-party verified by a qualified rater, who will fill out an HVAC Quality Installation Rater Checklist. This checklist will protect the integrity of HVAC system inspections for participating homes.

Another aspect of Version 3.0 is that HVAC contractors must be recognized. The purpose of this recognition is to enable homebuilders to identify those HVAC contractors that can comply with the provisions of the ACCA 5 QI Standard. Participants in the program must have the proper and applicable licenses, registrations, insurances, and written internal business policies that render them capable of performing quality installations on an on-going basis.

Continued Growth

Participation in the QA Program has steadily climbed month after month. ACCA has offered special pricing to early-adopters however, interest and commitment from the contracting community were demonstrated when the program continued to experience record growth with no financial incentives.

Benefits

The quality of an HVAC installation has a huge impact on the comfort and energy efficiency of a home. or too long, portions of the residential new construction market have suffered from companies with low installation standards that were more interested in winning bids with the lowest price than in delivering quality installations. ENERGY STAR recognized these market forces and determined to institute more rigorous evaluation of the HVAC system, and to evaluate the operations of the installing contractor. This revision to the core of the ENERGY STAR program emphasized that proper HVAC system installations demonstrate the program’s emphasis on energy efficiency.

ACCA is proud to have answered the call from ENERGY STAR, and to represent the HVAC contracting community at this important time in history. The changes to the ENERGY STAR for New Homes program have made it a more stringent program with regards to energy conservation. The program will lead to more efficient, correctly designed and installed HVAC systems that are verified by a rater for completion. From this foundation the QA Program sprang up, and in 12 short months has grown to over 500 recognized QA Contractors.

 

Wes Davis
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Posted In: ACCA Now, Partner News

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