We’ve been getting a lot of inquiries about the Alabama Duct & Envelope Testing Certification (also known as the Alabama blower door certification), so we thought we’d take a moment to explain this state requirement and what you need to do to be in compliance.
Why is Duct & Blower Door Testing Required?
Across the country, states are starting to require duct and blower door testing per their residential energy codes in order to create a more energy-efficient housing stock. This ultimately leads to safer, stronger, more durable homes with lower energy costs.
The International Energy Conservation Code (IECC) offers a standardized set of guidelines that contractors must follow. The residential section of that code enforces energy efficiency standards on new construction homes.
A new version of the code debuts every 3 years, but it’s up to states to adopt and implement whichever version is universally agreed to be best for their region. Oftentimes, states are reluctant to adopt the newest version of the code until it proves to be cost-effective and truly better for all. This results in states lagging behind.
For example, as of the publication date of this writing, there are states on the 2009 IECC, 2012 IECC, 2015 IECC, and 2018 IECC.
Note: This image is from energycodes.gov and was last updated on March 31, 2020. It’s interesting that the map shows Alabama as being on 2009 IECC when the Alabama code requirements page (Residential tab) specifically says that it’s on the 2015 IECC.
Why You Need the Alabama Duct & Envelope Testing Certification
You probably work in the state of Alabama in a residential trade, such as HVAC, and by having the Alabama Duct & Envelope Testing Certification, you’ll be able to show compliance and get more work.
But why now?
As we mentioned above, states are often slow to adopt and slow to implement the newest codes. In addition, the blower door testing requirement is often so vaguely described in the code that code enforcement officials are slow to understand what’s actually required and how to enforce it.
Here are the fast takeaways:
In October 2012, Alabama adopted the 2009 Alabama Energy & Residential Code, which first introduced the concepts of duct and blower door testing.
An updated residential code went into effect on October 1, 2016, which requires duct tightness testing on all new ductwork and R-8 insulation for all ducts in attics.
This latest requirement is based on the 2015 IECC Code, which also allows homebuilders to use the Energy Rating Index (ERI) as a code compliance pathway. The required Energy Rating Index score in Alabama that must be met is 70 or lower.
How You Can Get the Alabama Duct & Envelope Testing Certification
As we mentioned above, the blower door testing requirement is often poorly explained in the code – and by that, I mean it’s never straightforward and never explicitly states what’s required. So that means that there are a few hoops that you have to jump through.
- Understand that there are multiple duct & blower door certifications. The code does not literally require you to earn an “Alabama Duct & Envelope Testing Certification.” That’s just how people refer to the requirement. The requirement itself is based on nationally recognized duct & blower door testing certifications. Research BPI Infiltration & Duct Leakage Certification, RESNET HERS Rater Certification, BPI Building Analyst Certification, and Duct and Envelope Tightness (DET) Verifier. Let us explain them to you. Call us at (800) 460-2575.
- Recognize that code requirements are enforced by municipality. This means that the certification supported in X county may not be the most appropriate choice for Y county. Call your local building department or wherever you intend to offer duct & envelope testing to see which certification is preferred. Your fate (code compliance) lies in the hands of the code enforcement office, so you have to do what they say.
- You must register with the state of Alabama. After you’ve earned the necessary duct & envelope testing certification, you have to pay a $50 fee, submit an application, and acquire a contractor ID from the state. This will get you listed on a registry of contractors who can perform the tests. If an inspector wants to verify that someone is qualified, they can pull the list and see if you’re on there.
How Everblue Can Help You
Here at Everblue, we offer home energy auditor training courses and exams that help you earn duct and blower door testing certification.
To show compliance with the Alabama Duct & Envelope Testing Certification requirements, you may actually end up earning one of these nationally-recognized certifications:
Remember, the code does not literally require you to earn an “Alabama Duct & Envelope Testing Certification.” That’s just what people call it. The requirement itself is based on these nationally recognized duct & blower door testing certification programs.
Which Blower Door Testing Certification is Right for You?
The certifications listed above explain the same procedures for doing blower door and duct leakage tests.
After all, the mechanics behind setting up a blower door and performing an air leakage test in a home does not change depending on what state you’re in!
The biggest difference between the certifications, specifically the BPI and RESNET ones, is that they are owned by competing organizations, so that just means that they recommend different measurements and thresholds.
This is why there is much room for interpretation when it comes to code enforcement. The blower door testing certifications are like shades of blue; you just have to determine which is best for your region and your business needs.
- If you work for an HVAC company that wants to do duct and blower door testing as a side service, the BPI Infiltration & Duct Leakage Certification is likely your best bet because it’s the fastest to earn and the most affordable.
- If you work for a home performance company that regularly provides home energy audits yet still needs to be in compliance with the state requirements, you might want to pair the BPI Building Analyst & IDL certifications.
- If you’re all-in on residential energy code enforcement and want to fill a niche gap in your town, you might want the RESNET HERS Rater Certification and focus exclusively on partnering with home builders on IECC code compliance.
I know, it’s not fun deciphering what the energy code says. But we’re here to help! Give us a call at (800) 460-2575 if you have questions about blower door certification in Alabama and need career guidance.