Three governmental agencies have spearheaded an extensive initiative to promote energy efficiency. The Department of Energy, the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) have joined forces in the first concerted government effort to focus on energy efficiency in existing homes.

The multiyear collaboration, dubbed "Partnerships for Home Energy Efficiency," promotes Energy Star-labeled products, which meet strict energy-efficiency guidelines set by the EPA, and has created financial incentives for energy-efficient remodeling through special mortgages with financial partners. HUD and PATH, the Partnership for Advancing Technology in Housing, are working with the remodeling industry to develop protocols for energy-efficient remodeling and to expand contractor certification and accreditation programs for energy efficiency.

To encourage the certification and accreditation, HUD has teamed with the Building Performance Institute (BPI), based in Albany, N.Y. According to Larry Zarker, director of national development for BPI, professionals can receive certification in three tracks -- evaluation, mechanical, and envelope -- once they successfully complete a practical and a theoretical test. BPI also offers company accreditation.

Currently available in 26 states, BPI certification programs are poised for expansion. With increased energy costs resulting from hurricanes Katrina and Rita, such certification programs and the whole-house assessment skills they teach are valuable and enable contractors to provide homeowners with a cost-effective, prioritized list of recommended improvements, Zarker says. To find out more about BPI certification and accreditation programs go to or call 877.274.1274. For information about the partnerships, visit