Certified Energy Analyst (CEA) Program

March 23, 2016

The Certified Energy Analyst (CEA) program helps drive overall compliance with California’s Energy Code. CEA certification signifies that a consultant has the knowledge necessary to accurately apply the California Building Energy Efficiency Standards, and the commitment to providing quality service to their clients. With these points of emphasis, the CEA program has served as both an educational pathway and an incentive for energy analysts to improve their skills and knowledge of California’s Energy Code.

The backbone of this program is a set of technically challenging certification exams, which are created and maintained by a large team of subject matter experts. As project managers, we at the Benningfield Group lead this team’s efforts, overseeing the process from design and implementation to maintenance.  We also coordinate test administration, which includes everything from selecting test sites, analyzing exam results, monitoring overall exam and individual item performance, and maintaining/updating additional items as necessary. These efforts have also been supported by our software team, who built an online exam portal and repository where candidates can upload files for grading and review, and an online item repository that is used to track the history and ownership of each exam question.

The current scope of the project includes reviewing the 2013 item bank and updating the exam blueprint and questions to ensure a technically accurate, diversified exam is available for the 2016 Standards. The team has refined the item development process and created a new online repository that provides additional layers of security to protect the data, which includes restricting the viewing and editing permissions based on assignment. The new repository includes an automated exam generation feature based on specifications outlined in the exam blueprint. The exam portal has also been updated to accommodate uploading candidates’ multiple-choice exam scores, verifying results via callout to the repository, rescoring exams to account for dropped item(s), and an auto-generated results letter to the candidate. To support the transition of deployment activities to CABEC, a comprehensive program guide is being developed.

The results of this program are far reaching. By improving the skills, knowledge and competency of participating energy analysts, their building models and compliance documentation will likely become more consistent, clear and accurate. As a result, the design community will be more likely to understand code requirements, empowering them to design buildings that meet and exceed code. With fewer mistakes to correct, code enforcers will be able to focus on key inspection components, bringing the entire region closer to full overall compliance.