“We are interested in addressing that education challenge,” LeBaron says. “That is one reason I think this relationship with NCI is a really good one. The nerve center in every home is the HVAC and associated distribution system. Clearly, high-performance HVAC is central to that. We want the home to perform as well as it possibly can. For that to happen, the HVAC and distribution systems need to perform as well as possible.”

Cynthia Adams, the Pearl CEO, adds that their high-performance contractor focus is at the heart of providing consumers superior installation quality in homes. She cites a NIST (National Institute of Standards and Technology) study that shows how incorrectly installed high-efficiency equipment leaves the homeowner with low efficiency and dissatisfaction when it comes to saving energy dollars and achieving superior levels of comfort.

Partnership Roles

Adams adds that the installation quality issue is a direct link to HVAC manufacturers. She explains, “manufacturers would like to see no callbacks. They want a happy customer when it comes to the mechanical equipment installed in their homes. The contractor has a lot to do with that. Unfortunately, many contractors don’t do a good job installing equipment, and fewer still do performance testing on their installations.”

She says that’s why Pearl wants to educate homeowners on why the proper installation and performance testing is so important.

“We want to lift and elevate those contractors who are doing that work right in the first place,” Adams continues. “Our certification system includes a significant number of points for quality installation and the ability to document that. By the way, the documentation process NCI-trained and certified contractors use when performance testing is proof a house performs to a level that warrants our certification. You can’t achieve our highest level of certification without having that documentation.

Pearl creates a whole-house certification that can increase demand for high-end HVAC services
Energy savings, quality installation, indoor air quality, and more are all important to a High-Performance Home. High-Performance HVAC is the nexus for this.

“This is why we believe our certification platform is a good fit with NCI and the goals of that organization.”

Creating A Whole House Certification Demand

Both LeBaron and Adams say that their approach is a push-pull to the market. They want to bring homeowners up to speed, so they look for and demand high-performance services. And that may lead to more contractors looking to get involved.

Because Pearl’s approach is a whole-house certification, Adams says they engage with HVAC contractors, insulation contractors, plumbers (because of water heating), LED lighting specialists, appliance installers, and others.

She says that is why they created something called Green Door (ncilink.com/GreenDoor). This consumer-facing portal enables homeowners to engage themselves in “updating their home’s record. They can also learn about additional improvements they might make using that contractor again, or a complementary trade. This holistic approach is unique in our industry.”

Pearl and Home Appraisers

Another major partner for Pearl, according to LeBaron, is the appraiser community. He says, “Pearl is about ensuring the homeowner recaptures the value of their higher-performing homes. Appraisers are vital in that transaction. So, just engaging with them and helping to train them is a big part of what we do.

“We also train real estate agents so that they can communicate the value of high-performing homes to potential buyers during the sale. We’ve found that a trained agent makes a huge difference in ensuring that such a home sells for a higher price.”

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