Verification & mentoring

Contractors participating in the SMUD Home Performance Program must participate in the Efficiency First California (Formerly CBPCA) Field Quality Control program, which includes up to three free mentoring sessions.

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View the EFCA Field Quality Control Protocols document to learn more details about the QC process below:

  • EFCA Field Quality Control Protocols (PDF): The Field Quality Control (QC) Protocols are used by the utility and its program administrators to evaluate the effectiveness of the program, certified BPI individuals, and the work of Participating Contractors. The QC Protocols also provide feedback to the contractors, which can improve job quality.
  • Mentoring and Verification FAQ

Home Performance Program Verification

SMUD requires that EFCA conduct on-site verifications of each Participating Contractor’s completed work. Home Performance jobs are selected at random in accordance with BPI and SMUDs Quality Control (QC) standards. (“Control” is defined as an evaluation process to indicate needed corrective responses.) The QC Verifier is approved by EFCA and certified by BPI in at least one residential designation. Verifiers have been trained by EFCA or its equivalent and exceed the requirements of the Home Performance with ENERGY STAR® program. All verifiers sign EFCA’s Verifier Agreement and Privacy Policy to safeguard the contractors’ liability and privacy with respect to sensitive information.

Job Sampling On-site inspections (QC verifications) will be scheduled according to each contractor’s sampling rate. Sampling is done separately for each contractor. The QC verification will be directed at projects that have not yet started (pre-upgrade) and at finished projects (post-upgrade) in accordance with the Home Performance with ENERGY STAR® sampling rates listed below.

PRE-Upgrade QC verification takes place before the upgrades are installed to ensure test-in numbers match data submitted for review and to validate the scope of work.

POST-Upgrade QC verification takes place after the job has been completed to ensure that quality of work and safety meet SMUD’s requirements, as well as to ensure that complete BPI testing protocols and program requirements have been followed.

QC field verification sampling rates:

  • Tier 1: In-field inspection on 3 of the first 5 jobs performed by a new Participating Contractor. Mentoring is also required for the first 3 jobs submitted to the program
  • Tier 2: After the first 5 jobs are completed and Tier 1 is satisfactorily passed, at least 4 of the next 20 jobs (20%) will receive in-field inspection
  • Tier 3: After the first 25 jobs are completed and Tier 2 is satisfactorily passed:
    • 1 in 20 (5%) of all subsequent jobs will receive an in-field inspection
    • For BPI-accredited contracting companies, with SMUD approval: 1 in 50 (2%) of all subsequent jobs will receive an in-field inspection

After successfully completing Tier 1 & 2 above, field verifications are for the most part randomly selected from the contractor’s subsequent jobs to obtain an unbiased sample of the work (no less than 5%, unless BPI-Accredited). This also serves to prevent the contractor from predicting which projects will be selected. However, the sample will not always be purely random. For example, some homeowners will not want to schedule an inspection, while other homeowners may request an inspection due to issues about work performed, and some inspections may be conducted as a result of the issues raised in the job report review process. QC verifications allow for early feedback on problem areas. The sampling rate may be adjusted at the discretion of EFCA QC staff for any given contractor who receive QC verification results with poor outcomes or with successful outcomes.

STEP 1: When a Project is Selected for Verification. The contractor will receive an automated email from the Vision reporting system informing him/her that a project is “Selected for Verification.” The email will describe which property has been selected and provide suggestions for notifying the homeowner that a EFCA QC Verifier will be calling to arrange a date for the verification visit. At that time the contractor must provide the client with these documents to help them prepare for the visit:

STEP 2: The Verification Visit. Participating contractors are highly encourage to join EFCA’s verifiers at the time of the verification visit. The verification visit will evaluate the contractor’s ability to perform a home performance assessment, develop an appropriate scope of work, and properly install the improvements purchased by the customer according to the terms of the contract. Its emphasis is on ensuring quality installation and safety, and whether the proposed job scope was completed as described. Also, Verifiers must confirm adherence to BPI Technical Standards and program requirements as required under the SMUD Home Performance Program. The Verifier may ask the homeowner for a short tour of the home to show where improvements were made. The Verifier will inspect the home and:

  • Visually inspect exterior and interior for safety issues.
  • Visually verify claimed improvements and that each measure is new.
  • Determine whether each measure has been installed to program standards.
  • Perform Combustion Appliance Safety (CAS) testing following the EFCA CAS Testing Guidelines.
  • Replicate diagnostic tests as necessary to verify the contractor’s reporting. Types of tests depend on the job scope, observed results, contractor reputation, customer satisfaction, and other factors. Diagnostic tests may include blower door, duct blaster, flow hood, IR camera inspection, moisture analysis, and measured airflow.
  • Take digital photos to capture elements of the job that were either done well or poorly. Pictures provide an excellent opportunity to exhibit the quality of a contractors work.
  • Make notes on how the installed remediation measures could have been installed better or differently to improve home performance. This information will be included as feedback in the QC Report.

For jobs that required a HERS inspection, the QC Verifier will rely on the HERS performance test results rather than replicate the tests. The Verifier will not discuss any inspection results with the homeowner. As needed, EFCA will discuss with the contractor the options for correcting problems identified by the Verifier. Overall, it is very important that the Verifier presents a positive and objective attitude during all conversations with the homeowner.

STEP 3: Results of the QC Verification. Verifiers are asked to refrain from telling the homeowner about the results of the inspection. Instead, Verifiers should let the homeowner know that the results are shared with the contractor and that the homeowner should contact the contractor if s/he has questions. If the homeowner would like to hear the results from an independent source, s/he is invited to contact EFCA. Likewise, we ask Verifiers are not to ask about the identity of the contractor when talking with the homeowner. Results of the QC Verification will be posted in Vision in the specific project application. Once the QC verification is complete, the Verifier uploads the following items into the Vision system for EFCA review:

  1. Energy Upgrade California (EUC) Field Quality Control Report: The Verifier will record results of combustion appliance safety testing and all other diagnostic test numbers in EUC field quality report.
  2. Quality Control (QC) Scoring Sheet: The Verifier should provide constructive feedback and suggestions to improve job performance. Verifier also should make visual assessments, take photos, and suggest how the installed remediation measures could have been installed better or differently to improve home performance. This QC scoring sheet provides pass or fail categories for the Verifier to determine, if any, corrective action is needed. The categories are:

Fail 0: Contractor has left the home in an unsafe condition that threatens occupants’ health and safety and requires immediate corrective action. Verifier has notified the homeowner of the unsafe conditions and has called PG&E to assess the situation. Follow-up is required for all CAS failures and corrective action is mandatory.

Fail 1 (F1):  CAS test results did not meet Program standards and/or triggered a “stop work” action based on BPI Technical Standards for the Building Analyst Professional. Verifier has notified the homeowner of the unsafe conditions and has called PG&E to assess the situation. Follow-up is required for all CAS failures and corrective action is mandatory.

Discrepancy 0 (D0): The contracted scope of work does not meet home performance standards and/or Program requirements. Corrective action is strongly recommended and may be required.  Areas of technical performance need improvement.

Discrepancy 1 (D1): Significant discrepancies in modeling or testing data submitted in the post installation application.

Pass with Minor Discrepancies (P0): Contractor’s performance meets most technical standards and program requirements but some areas of technical performance need improvement.

Pass 1 (P1):  Exceptional Work Completed.

  1. Field Verification Photos: Digital photos to capture aspects of the jobs done well or done poorly.
  2. Customer Survey: Collected from the homeowner at the end of the QC verification.

Contractors will receive an automated email from the Vision system informing them that QC files have been uploaded and program administrators have left a new NOTE to view, which will prompt the contractor to perform one of the following actions:

  • “Verification Complete” status – The NOTE will tell the contractor that the QC Scoring Sheet, QC Photos, Customer Survey, and Invoice are ready to be viewed in the FILES tab of the project. If the contractor has any questions or concerns about the files, s/he may add a new note with comment(s) and the administrators will respond as soon as possible.
  • “Corrective Action Needed” status – The NOTE will tell the contractor that corrective action is needed on the project and to view the QC Letter in the FILES tab. The QC Letter provides specific details of the issues that require immediate attention, the specific time-frame in which the repairs need to be made, and suggested methods for remediation. In addition, the FILES tab will contain the QC Scoring Sheet, Verification Photos, Customer Survey, and Invoice (if applicable) for review.
  • This status requires the contractor to perform additional tasks under the WORKFLOW tab such as: enter the date s/he intends to return to the home to make the repairs, enter details of the corrective action in a new NOTE or document(s), and upload the documents(s) and photo(s) of the repairs under the FILES tab.
  • Once the documentation and photo(s) are reviewed and approved, the project will be deemed “resolved” by the QC program administrator and its status will be moved to “Verification Complete” (or other previous review status).
  • Notifying the Homeowner about Corrective Action – The contractor must take responsibility for telling the homeowner problem(s) and proposed solutions. EFCA will offer the contractor talking points to help guide their customer conversation about deficiencies. Corrective action is performed at no cost to the homeowner. In a rare circumstance when the homeowner refuses proposed correction action, s/he must sign an acknowledgement document, and no action will be taken on that property.

If problems are not resolved, or there is evidence of negligence, a contractor’s “Participating Contractor” status may be revoked at any time. Any discrepancies that are found and reported in the QC documents will be discussed with the Verifier, and then the contractor, if needed. PG&E / SMUD Field QC Coordination To avoid duplicative field verification, for jobs submitted to both the SMUD and PG&E programs, EFCA will perform field verifications on behalf of BIG and the PG&E Whole House Rebate Program. EFCA will coordinate directly with BIG to select jobs for verification and EFCA will notify contractors via the Vision System and follow the EFCA field QC process as laid out in the EFCA Field Quality Control Protocols. All jobs with PG&E natural gas are service will be verified according to the PG&E Whole House Action Guidelines online at Build It Green’s Whole House Program Document Library. QC Field Verification Cost Jobs verified on behalf of the PG&E Whole-House Rebate Program will be at no cost to the Participating Contractor. Jobs that are not verified in coordination with PG&E will be charged to the contractor ($500).

Home Performance Program Mentoring [back to top]

The purpose of mentoring is to ensure that Participating Contractors use the whole house approach, follow BPI and program standards, and provide quality home performance services to customers under the SMUD Home Performance Program.

Required mentoring for new Participating Contractors. Each new Participating Contractor must schedule three mentoring sessions with EFCA to be performed at the first three test-out. All three mentoring sessions are free of charge to the participating contractors. Available until funding is exhausted.

Required attendance. Those present at a mentoring session must include a certified BPI Building Analyst on staff or subcontracted with the company AND a field crew lead who worked on the project in review. In addition, the owner/decision maker/sales person of the company is highly encouraged to participate. It is requested that the limit be kept to 5 or fewer people from the contractors company so that those present get the most out of the session. Mentoring is accomplished in the following way:

  • Test-out and Mentoring/Verification Combined takes place when the mentoring session is coordinated with the test-out. and it focuses on performing a complete and correct home test-out per BPI standards and program requirements while addressing any missed opportunities for deeper energy savings.
  • Additional mentoring beyond the no-cost mentoring sessions will be charged to the Participating Contractor at the rate of $100/hour.

Scheduling Mentoring. Contractors must notify EFCA of the upcoming test-out date ahead of the time (ideally two weeks before the test-out date) via Vision system, so that EFCA can try to join the participating contractors and combine the test-out with a free mentoring session. Contractor is to complete the “Mentoring Request Application”

Download the How to Prepare for Mentoring (PDF) document to ensure the contractor is ready for a successful learning experience. Fill out the Mentoring Request Application.

Did you know as a participating SMUD contractor if you test-in your jobs, you’re able to use the Home Performance with ENERGY STAR logo and materials? Nearly 90% of households recognize this logo, this helps send a message to customers of value and credibility for your company.