As of Jan. 1, 2020, home performance contractors will need to satisfy the new Georgia blower door certification requirements, which seem to point to BPI Infiltration & Duct Leakage, BPI Building Analyst, and/or RESNET HERS Rater Certification. Learn more about these certification recommendations.
New Georgia Building Codes
The Georgia Department of Community Affairs recently adopted eight new mandatory State Minimum Standard Codes with Georgia State Amendments.
The updated codes include:
- 2018 International Building Code with Georgia Amendments
- 2015 International Energy Conservation Code with Georgia Amendments
- 2018 International Fire Code with no Amendments
- 2018 International Fuel Gas Code with Georgia Amendments
- 2018 International Mechanical Code with Georgia Amendments
- 2018 International Plumbing Code with Georgia Amendments
- 2018 International Residential Code with Georgia Amendments
- 2018 International Swimming Pool and Spa Code with Georgia Amendments
Of importance to us is the International Energy Conservation Code (IECC), which often drives general contractors and HVAC technicians to pursue BPI Certification.
How BPI Certification Meets Georgia Blower Door Requirements
Building codes across the country have started to require blower door testing and/or duct testing. The code will typically say that this work is to be completed by a “certified third party” but fails to explain what that means. Thus, the local code official in your building department or code enforcement agency tends to be the decision-maker on what counts.
Let’s break it down this way…
- “Certified” – BPI Certification is a nationally recognized certification program for home performance contractors interested in residential energy efficiency. The skills supported by BPI Certification align with the skills required to meet building code.
- “Third Party” – meaning that homebuilders can’t do blower door tests on their own building projects. This is why many HVAC technicians step in and gain BPI Certification, so they can be subcontracted to work on these projects.
We’ll now discuss exactly which certification you should get to be in compliance.
Please note – you will want to contact your building department to see if your local code official has a preference that overrides our recommendation.
Which Blower Door Certification Should I Get?
When you browse our site or visit the Building Performance Institute website, you’ll notice that there are multiple BPI certifications to choose from. The requirements listed in the building code are already so technical and dense that it can be difficult to know what’s required, let alone which BPI certification to pursue. The two most common BPI designations that address code requirements are as follows:
- BPI Infiltration & Duct Leakage – blower door and duct testing
- BPI Building Analyst – home energy auditing (blower door testing, combustion safety, and visual inspection)
In other words, if you’re an entry-level technician who just needs to run blower door and duct tests, then the BPI Infiltration & Duct Leakage Certification should be sufficient. If, however, you want to use the results from those tests to help diagnose overall energy efficiency issues throughout the home, you might instead consider the BPI Building Analyst Certification. And finally, if you want the full breadth of knowledge, you might consider our BPI Building Analyst & IDL Combo.
Moving on to the RESNET HERS Rater Certification… RESNET is just a competitor to BPI. Both organizations offer nationally recognized home energy auditor certifications. The high-level difference is that RESNET tends to focus more on new home construction, and BPI tends to focus more on retrofitting existing homes. In addition, HERS Rater Certification is the ultimate designation on the RESNET side that represents the same, or greater, range of knowledge when compared to BPI Building Analyst & IDL. Unlike BPI, who has broken the certifications down by skill set, RESNET combines them all into the HERS Rater Certification. For a more thorough understanding of these two certification packages, check out our analysis of RESNET HERS Rater vs. BPI Certification.
What’s New in the Georgia Code
The new code, which is the first major revision in nearly a decade, includes substantial updates that will improve energy efficiency, as well as indoor air quality, moisture control, ventilation and occupant comfort in both residential and commercial buildings.
Mike Barcik noted the following changes that apply to single-family homes:
- Building thermal envelope R-values – Changes involve R-38 ceiling insulation, improved windows, and reduced house leakage.
- Ducted mechanical systems – A tighter 6% duct leakage is now mandated, while duct leakage to outside testing is no longer an option.
- Whole-house ventilation systems – Because of envelope tightness, all new homes with a blower door test of less than 3 ACH50 require a whole-house ventilation system.
- Hot water distribution – The new code now requires insulation for all hot-water piping located outside the thermal envelope, recirculation system piping and for any lines ?-inch and larger.
Our major takeaway is the heavy focus on the building thermal envelope – ceilings, walls, windows, floors, foundations. Infiltration control is mandatory, so contractors will need to caulk and seal to prevent air leaks. Additionally, they will need to verify envelope tightness with blower door AND visual inspection. Ducts will need to be sealed properly and insulated. Verify tightness with a duct pressurization test.
Get Certified & Start Complying with Code
During our BPI Certification and RESNET HERS Rater courses, we’ll teach you the physical skills and necessary building science calculations so you can know whether a house meets the minimum code requirements or not.
For more information about Georgia blower door certification requirements, give us a call at 800-460-2575.