Value. In every industry, some of the biggest questions asked include how value is defined, created and communicated. Failure to communicate the quality of a product and service results in commoditization. Price becomes the only differentiator. And that’s okay if being the cheapest is your value proposition. But for businesses that differentiate on quality and don’t want to compete solely on price, being able to communicate value is key.
Degrees, licenses, labels, ratings and certifications all help define and communicate what isn’t obvious. For instance:
- Individual credentials (like NATE) and company accreditations (like ACCA’s QA program) establish competency and credibility for the provider of a service.
- ENERGY STAR® certifies hundreds of different types of products help manufacturers differentiate based on high levels energy efficiency without sacrificing other qualities.
- New construction labels help builders differentiate a home built to higher-than-code standards. ENERGY STAR® for Homes, Indoor airPLUS, and WaterSense are new construction labels for individual “green” attributes. LEED Certification labels a home based on multiple “green variables” including but not limited to energy efficiency.
- Energy modeling ratings like the HERS Index and DOE’s Home Energy Score estimate a home’s energy usage and associated energy bill.
Each of these approaches provides unique value in their specific market segment for a specific transaction. But there are shortcomings:
- Product labels are based on lab tests. For products that aren’t plug-and-play (think HVAC), labels don’t consider the quality of the installation or other non-energy features (such as indoor air quality, sound reduction, etc.).
- Most “whole-home” labels are applicable to the new construction market. They don’t help homeowners maintain and improve their homes over time
- Energy ratings are – by definition – energy centric and they don’t help a homeowner connect with a specific, well-qualified contractor to make improvements.
This is where Pearl Certification comes in. Pearl is a national firm that qualifies an elite network of professionals and certifies high-performing homes: homes with heating and cooling, solar, smart home devices, resilient features and much more. Pearl Certification drives demand for these features by 1) educating homeowners on how to make their home higher-performing and why they should care (comfort, indoor air quality, energy savings, etc.) 2) connecting them with qualified contractors that deliver results 3) capturing the value of those improvements over time and 4) making that value visible at the time of sale or refinance. Pearl makes the “invisible” value visible. Homeowners can have confidence that the investments they make into their home’s high-performing features will be properly considered and protect or increase their home’s equity.
Owens Corning recently designated Pearl as the exclusive home certification provider for the AirCare™ Contractor Program. Pearl Certification will serve as Owen Corning’s national third-party partner to qualify and support contractors in holistic home improvements that in turn, help improve home health and comfort.
The partnership with Owens Corning and their AirCare Contractor Program is a new way to showcase HVAC contractors as the go-to authorities when it comes to in-home environments, air quality, and air flow. “Aligning with a certification partner who has earned the respect and trust of the marketplace was a critical priority in developing the AirCare Contractor Program,” said Jessica Bazzi, program lead at Owens Corning.
Quality HVAC work is often invisible, but a Pearl Certification helps communicate the value of these features, thus increasing the value of the home which is vital in a robust real estate market. “AirCare and Pearl bring complementary benefits to the contractor that underscores selling value over price, the value of healthy air, a comfortable home, lower bills and an ROI at refinance or sale,” said Bazzi.
A Pearl Certification is a clear indicator to current and prospective homeowners about the quality of the materials and craftsmanship hidden in the walls of the home. Pearl’s third-party certification process indicates to homeowners and buyers that, even though they can’t easily see it, there is quality HVAC design, installation, and product behind the walls.
As a third-party, Pearl ensures its contractors are experienced, qualified, and licensed. This is crucial in helping maintain credibility with the professionals on all levels of HVAC construction and installation. Contractors must meet a set of qualifications before they can join the elite Pearl Contractor Network. This includes dedication to customer service, commitment to quality, technical expertise, good business practices and systems in place. Pearl’s 20-point set of criteria includes evaluating NATE certifications, as well as professional and ongoing training with new technology and services. Pearl also certifies the installed work on a per-project basis, providing the homeowner with a Pearl Certification report and other resources so the value of that improvement is captured and can be communicated when needed.
All of this matters to the homeowner as it increases the value of the contractor through the homeowners eyes. Many HVAC contractors are already doing excellent work. The value that Pearl Certification communicates to help educate high performing homeowners, lenders, appraisers, and real estate professionals regarding the added value behind the walls not only immediately, but in the long term as well is key in changing the market as high performing, efficient homes move from being the exception to the norm.