Blower Door Databases: ATTMA and Retrotec rCloud

Hi guys,

We're pushing for blower door testing in the building code here in Australia and we think that consistent data reporting is an important prerequisite for that. We're trying to get our members to publish their test results in the ATTMA (U.K.) database. We're also pushing to have incentive programs require some sort of accreditation for testers.
It's very unlikely that the national building code could require accreditation of testers, or reporting of results to a database, but state and local regulators can enforce such a requirement, and voluntary programs like Green Star or LEED can certainly encourage or incentivize it. Two questions:
1. Does The Energy Conservatory have any plans to create something similar to Retrotec's rCloud - not so much the database aspects of it (ATTMA's database seems to be a great tool), but the quality control aspects? For example, rCloud geo-locates and time stamps a test, which at least proves that a tester was actually there. Talking to Retrotec, they said in France, they have had problems with people just making up data and reporting it without ever doing a test. How can Energy Conservatory help combat this sort of fraud?
One reason I could see Retrotec gaining some ground is that they might argue successfully to regulators that a lower sampling rate is required for testers using rCloud because the chance of fraud is reduced. Energy Conservatory could then be at a competitive disadvantage because higher sampling rates might still be required. I imagine that ATTMA would be a very willing partner in trying to reduce fraud so maybe TEC could work with them on this. I know both companies are already working with them to make reporting to the ATTMA database extremely easy.
2. Can The Energy Conservatory create some sort of manufacturer accreditation like Retrotec has (Level, 1,2,3)? In Australia, it will be a while before we have the likes of RESNET or BPI because the home performance industry here is so far a joke. So a stopgap measure is a Retrotec Level 2, NEBB, or ATTMA accreditation. But TEC does not have such a thing...
Thoughts?
Sean

Tags: ATTMA, Quality, blower, control, data, door, rcloud, retrotec

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Fraud can occur in many ways.   Were you there is only one and rather minor.  What ring was generating the flow and pressure?  What about opened doors?  Did you leave the basement or the upstairs closed off? Then use the whole house volume in your calculations. At some point, there has to be some trust and some professionalism. 

Did the Blower Door Test actually get run is easy.  Picture of the setup from the outside.  If you went there and did the set up; why fake the results?  The others can also be handled.  

I don't see the advantage of a cloud solution to eliminate fraud. The cloud solution is better situated to share data. Lots of data, data specific to a builder, a neighborhood, etc.

Thank you for your message. Here are our responses to your questions.

1. Yes, we are working on an automated test app which is currently in alpha testing on iOS; it includes a timestamp and geolocation feature. The initial version does not include ISO 9972, which we assume you would be using in Australia, but we have plans to add it. We are also working on other software tools that include electronic data exchange and verification, but we don’t yet have a timeline for these other tools.
2. We are currently working on an online training tool to be included with the purchase of our products which will be available to all of our customers. The first course we intend to offer is duct tightness testing, which is scheduled for release in September. The next course will be basic building envelope testing with a single fan system. As for Thomas Van Raamsdonk, we have already sent a certificate recognizing him as an authorized TEC distributor in Australia. Next we are working to recognize him as a trainer, but we need to review his curriculum and verify his knowledge and skills in order to do so. I have already contacted Thomas to define this task.

Customer input to our products and programs is always welcome. We will be making announcements in the near future, through our newsletter and our website, when these various products and programs come live.

Frank Spevak | Marketing & Sales Manager
TEC (The Energy Conservatory)
2801 21st Ave South, Suite 160 | Minneapolis, MN 55407
Main: 612.827.1117 | Extension: 163 | Direct: 612.254.2163

It's great to hear that the implementation of pressure diagnostics is gaining some traction down in Australia. ​I think that there'll come a time in the not-so-distant future when it would be unthinkable to build or rehabilitate a building without the benefit of testing the envelope and ducts. We just have to move the market one region at a time.

CLOUD STORAGE. You're correct that Retrotec rCloud ​allows us to record the results of blower door and duct tests. ​It's pretty slick. I'm glad to hear from Frank over at the Energy Conservatory that they're working on something similar for their equipment.

It's seems crazy that we do all these performance test​​​s​ of homes,​ but the​ results are ​only ​recorded to standalone data files​. ​With these new cloud storage systems, we can now stream data to secure servers where everyone in the chain -- supervisors, program managers, QA people, trainers -- can analyze the data exactly as it's collected. We already do this in almost every other industry, and it's about time that the home performance industry catches up with the world of connected devices.​ This is good for everybody.​

PORTABILITY OF GAUGES. ​One great feature of rCloud is that you can use it either with Retrotec or Energy Conservatory blower doors and duct blasters. All you need is a Retrotec DM32 smart gauge to connect to either. So you can get access to the rCloud ​storage ​system with either brand of blower door or duct tester.

FRAUDULENT TESTS. There will always be people who try to cheat the system. Having remotely-stored data will not fix that problem, but it sure will make it harder. More data is always good, especially when you have ways to manage it and compare results.


MY SUMMARY. I think that connected devices -- and data-sharing systems such as rCloud -- are driving the next evolution in high-performance housing. ​I'm looking forward to putting some of these new systems into use.

-- Chris Dorsi

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