Associate Energy Analyst (AEA) Accreditation FAQs

Frequently Asked Questions about (and Exam Guidelines for) 2016 Standards AEA Accreditation

The AEA accreditation is targeted to professionals who work closely with the California Building Energy Efficiency Standards as they gain the work experience or energy modeling expertise needed to become full Certified Energy Analysts (CEAs). This would include but not be limited to candidates new to the energy industry, California Energy Commission staff, utility staff, Building Officials, Architects, Engineers, Manufacturers and similar. There will be separate AEA accreditations for the residential and nonresidential energy standards.

The AEA provides professional recognition for passing the multiple choice portion of the rigorous CEA exams without CEU’s or direct work experience requirement. The AEA program has been designed and implemented by your CABEC representatives based on members’ requests and feedback regarding the need for an intermediate energy analyst accreditation on the way towards full CEA status.

The AEA program requires that you pass the multiple choice section of the CEA exam for AEA Accreditation. To receive CEA Certification you will also need to complete the ACM Modeling section.

If an examinee fails the exam, he/she will be eligible to retake the exam at the next available exam date. For those participating in the first round of exams, the next round of testing usually occurs 3-6 months after the initial exam date.

The CEA exam will be offered in an estimated three to four different areas throughout the state each year. Registration for the exams will be made available through the CABEC website as information becomes available. Keep an eye out for announcements!

CABEC members pay $175 for the Multiple Choice part of the CEA exam. Learn more about costs and exam registration.

Examinees will bring a pencil, note pad, calculator and laptop computer with currently licensed and state approved compliance software to the testing facility. Examinees are permitted to bring their own copies of the Standards, manuals and appendices. CABEC will provide a flash drive with PDF copies of the Standards, manuals and other appropriate reference materials.

Maintenance Fees for your AEA Accreditation are included in your continued CABEC membership.

The following outline lists the key competencies and objectives in the Residential CEA Exam Blueprint. The blueprint identifies the content areas covered on the examination. Each content area comprises the knowledge, skills, and abilities that are essential elements of competency to become a CEA. Each content area is defined by a required competency and a set of related objectives.

  1. Comprehend Key Residential Energy Efficiency Design Concepts and Issues Demonstrate knowledge of basic heat transfer, residential energy design measures, and how they relate to building energy performance or metrics.
  • Describe methods of heat transfer and ways to maintain comfort conditions within living spaces and energy units
  • Determine appropriate general methods for reducing building and end-use energy consumption through energy design and energy efficiency
  • Describe envelope design elements and explain how they affect energy design and efficiency
  • Describe mechanical and water heating design elements and explain how they affect energy design and efficiency
  • Describe lighting design elements and explain how they affect energy design and efficiency
  • Explain what common building energy performance metrics measure, and what factors are included in the calculation of these metrics
  1. Conduct Initial Project Assessment and Determine How to Apply the 2013 California Building Energy Efficiency Standards Gather preliminary information from drawings, related documents, and the client to determine the nature and scope of the project; determine how to apply the Standards in establishing the correct code requirements and the available energy compliance options.
  • Explain scope and triggers for specified portions of the Title 24 low-rise residential standards, federal and state appliance standards
  • Analyze information about a proposed project (e.g., drawings, related schedules and documents, information from client) to determine scope and key attributes
  • Analyze proposed project information to determine which standards apply, possible compliance options and strengths and weaknesses of compliance methods
  • Review information about a proposed project (e.g., drawings, related schedules and documents, information from client) to determine key data about the building’s envelope and mechanical components
  • Analyze proposed project information to determine if all data is correct and internally consistent, and whether relevant information is missing or incomplete
  1. Gather, Calculate and Organize All Information Needed for Energy Modeling Review drawings, specifications and information provided by the designer or client; gather, calculate and record all pertinent data to input into the energy modeling software.
  • Analyze a proposed project to determine pertinent data regarding HVAC systems and zones, including any HERS measures, to input into energy modeling software
  • Analyze a proposed project to identify pertinent data regarding water heating system(s) to input into energy modeling software
  • Organize and perform zone-by-zone area take-offs in accordance with the scope, type, and compliance approach for the project
  • Analyze take-offs for a proposed project to identify any relevant information that is missing or inconsistent

The following outline represents the Nonresidential CEA Exam Blueprint. The blueprint identifies the content areas covered on the examination. Each content area comprises the knowledge, skills, and abilities that have been determined to be essential elements of competency to become a CEA. Each content area is defined by a required competency and a set of related objectives.

  1. Comprehend Key Nonresidential Energy Efficiency Design Concepts and Issues Demonstrate knowledge of basic heat transfer, Nonresidential energy design measures, and how they relate to building energy performance metrics and code compliance.
  • Describe methods of heat transfer and ways to maintain comfort conditions within living spaces and energy units
  • Describe general energy efficiency and energy design concepts of building, and general methods of reducing end-use energy consumption with energy efficiency and energy design
  • Describe envelope design elements, including daylighting design features and explain how they affect energy design and efficiency
  • Describe mechanical and service hot water design elements and systems, and explain how they affect energy design and efficiency
  • Describe lighting design elements, and explain how they affect energy design and efficiency
  • Explain why different energy metrics are used for different purposes, what common building energy performance metrics measure, and what factors are included in calculation of these metrics
  1. Conduct Initial Project Assessment and Determine How to Apply the 2013 Standards Gather preliminary information from drawings, related documents, and the client to determine the nature and scope of the project; and determine how to apply the Standards in establishing the correct code requirements and the available energy compliance options.
  • Explain scope and triggers for specified portions of the Title 24 Nonresidential Standards, high-rise residential standards and the appliance standards
  • Review all available information about a proposed project (e.g., drawings, related schedules and documents, information from client) to determine overall scope and to analyze which standards and what compliance options are available
  • Analyze proposed project information to determine if all data is correct and internally consistent and whether relevant information is missing or incomplete
  • Summarize mandatory envelope, mechanical, service hot water and lighting measures that apply to a proposed project
  1. Gather, Calculate and Organize All Information Needed for Energy Modeling Review drawings, specifications and information provided by the designer or client; gather, calculate and record all pertinent data to input into the energy modeling software.
  • Analyze pertinent project data regarding mechanical systems/zones and service hot water to input into energy modeling software
  • Organize and perform envelope and daylighting zone-by-zone area take-offs in accordance with the scope, type, and compliance approach for the project
  • Organize and perform indoor lighting prescriptive calculations including sub-zone area take-offs in accordance with the scope, type, and compliance approach for the project
  • Organize and perform prescriptive calculations for exterior hardscape lighting and signage lighting including area take-offs in accordance with the scope, type, and compliance approach for the project

Please check CABEC’s Calendar (in the Member Area) for a consolidated list of trainings and classes.

Currently there are several classes offered by the Investor Owned Utilities. While these classes are not specifically targeted to help examinees prepare for the CEA exam; they are a good starting point.

  • Title 24 Nonresidential Modeling Essentials
  • Title 24 Nonresidential Standards Essentials
  • Title 24 Residential Modeling Essentials
  • Title 24 Residential Standards Essentials

CABEC’s Learning Center (soon to be rolled out) will provide a comprehensive listing of available courses.  Pathway Assistance is also available to CABEC members.

CABEC 2013 Residential CEA Exam Sample Questions (2016 sample questions will be posted when they become available)

1. 

    1. image001 

A home in climate zone 5 has a large number of windows (area is approximately 35 percent of the conditioned floor area). It has a large negative compliance margin on heating, while the compliance margin is positive on cooling. The building is still in the design stage, and the owners have asked for recommendations to make the home more efficient. Other than reducing the amount of glass, what would be your recommendation for fenestration to address the negative space heating compliance margin?

A. Lower solar heat gain coefficient
B. Lower U-factor
C. Higher solar heat gain coefficient
D. Higher U-factor

2.  A builder plans to construct a home in climate zone 12 that follows the Package A requirements. What would be the most energy-efficient location for the heating and cooling ducts?

A. The ventilated attic
B. The roof
C. The conditioned space
D. The crawlspace

3. When an existing split HVAC system is altered by replacing a heating coil, are you required to replace the existing non-setback thermostat with a setback thermostat?

A. Yes, the existing non-setback thermostat must be replaced with a setback thermostat
B. Yes, but only if the existing HVAC system has ducts in the attic space
C. No, the existing non-setback thermostat must be replaced only when the whole HVAC system is replaced
D. No, if the existing HVAC system was installed prior to 1978

4. You are asked to perform the energy compliance analysis on a new custom home that needs to exceed the Title 24 energy budget by 15 percent. The owner would like to use a custom-designed high efficiency split HVAC system and has provided you with the makes and model numbers for the condenser, furnace, and cooling coil. You have determined that you will need to take a HERS performance credit for high efficiency cooling equipment to exceed Title 24 by 15 percent.

In order to take a HERS performance credit for high efficiency cooling equipment, what additional information do you need and where should you look to find it?

A. The SEER and EER rating of the tested system from the Air-Conditioning, Heating, and Refrigeration Institute (AHRI) directory
B. The SEER and EER rating of the tested system from the California Energy Commission (Energy Commission) Appliance Database
C. The SEER rating of the tested system from the Air-Conditioning, Heating, and Refrigeration Institute (AHRI) directory
D. The SEER rating of the tested system from the California Energy Commission (Energy Commission) Appliance Database               

5. In March 2015 you complete an existing plus addition plus alteration analysis for a 650 ft2 addition to an existing 1,450 ft2 house in climate zone 3. The existing home was built in 1990 with what were then minimum prescriptive water heating and furnace efficiencies. The existing furnace system remains, but the original (existing) water heater is being replaced with a new standard 50 gallon storage gas water heater. For extra compliance credit, the homeowner has selected HERS verification of the existing water heater efficiency.

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Which statement best describes the results for the project shown above?

A. The water heating was modeled incorrectly; the results are not as expected.
B. The water heating was modeled correctly; the results are as expected.
C. It is not possible to know whether the water heating change is modeled correctly.
D. HERS verification of the existing water heater is not allowed. 

6. Which of the following performance credits requires HERS field verification?

A. Building Envelope Sealing
B. CRRC Certified Roofing
C. Attic Radiant Barrier
D. All of the above

CABEC Nonresidential 2013 CEA Exam Sample Questions

1. You have completed the modeling of a 9,000 ft2 single story gymnasium designed at 0.95 watts/ ft2 of lighting with all walls, roof, and HVAC designed to prescriptive requirements for climate zone 2. The project has a 20′ ceiling height. The designers have decided to provide no windows or skylights in order to try to be as energy efficient as possible. Which of the following best describes the results of a performance analysis of the building?

A. No credit or penalty on total energy usage
B. A penalty on the heating and cooling energy usage
C. A penalty on the lighting energy usage
D. A credit on the lighting energy usage

2. You are completing a performance analysis of a new 1,000 ft2 The lighting designer has given you a plan that shows a fixture count that totals to an LPD of 0.98 watts/ft2 for general lighting. Another 0.28 watts/ft2 of lighting is considered to be ornamental sconces on the walls. The client has a stated goal of achieving 15 percent better than code on each piece of the building (envelope/lighting/mechanical). Which of the following recommendations would be a valid approach for achieving this goal for the lighting?

A. Document the sconce lighting on the plans, which will increase the allowed LPD using the Area Category Method
B. Use demand responsive lighting controls only
C. Use partial-on occupancy sensing devices only
D. Use both partial-on occupancy sensing devices and manual dimming controls


Residential Answer Key:  1:B, 2:C, 3:A, 4:A, 5:A, 6:A

Nonresidential Answer Key:  1:C, 2:D

The AEA program has been designed and implemented by your CABEC representatives based on members’ requests and feedback regarding the need for an intermediate energy analyst accreditation on the way towards full CEA status.

The group involved in this effort includes the IOU Codes and Standards team, Benningfield Group as Project Manager; McLain ID Consulting to provide certification exam development guidance; a dozen CABEC members serving as subject matter experts; the CABEC Board of Directors, and the CEA Committee and CABEC Executive Director.

The team began by developing the new Residential CEA exam that corresponds to the low-rise residential standards, and then followed with the new nonresidential (and high-rise residential) CEA Exam. The same process was used for both exams.

To ensure a credible and defensible exam, we used a standard certification exam development process, beginning with an exam “blueprint” that defines the type and number of questions for the exam, followed by creation of exam questions using a rigorous method of technical review, psychometric review, and quality assurance. Once the test questions were developed, we conducted alpha and beta tests of the exam questions, analyzed the alpha and beta results, and revised the questions as necessary to address the findings from the alpha and beta tests.

  • Blueprint — The exam blueprint defines the skills and knowledge the exam will test and how much “weight” (number of questions) each area should get.

The blueprint is structured with the following key components:

  • The major competencies associated with successful performance of the roles and responsibilities of a residential building energy analyst
  • For each competency, the primary performance objectives, which define the behaviors associated with the competency; that is, what an energy consultant must know and do to meet that competency
  • For each objective, the key content that should be the focus of exam questions addressing that objective

After much discussion and a full day workshop, the team reached a consensus on a total of five competencies that generally mirror the process that an energy analyst must follow when performing his or her work, along with the objectives that support each competency.

See “What Competencies Will Be Tested?” for a listing of the competencies and objectives defined in the Residential Exam Blueprint and the Nonresidential Exam Blueprint.

  • Exam questions — Each objective in the blueprint is tested by one or more exam questions.

Four of the five competencies are tested through multiple-choice questions. One competency, “Model the building with approved energy compliance software”, is tested by a combination of multiple-choice questions and a “hands-on” modeling section that requires construction of an energy model based on plans and a summary of relevant input information for a proposed project.

Each multiple choice question includes a “setup”, a “question”, a “correct answer” and generally three “distractors” which are plausible, but wrong answers.

Typically, a total of six individuals have written, reviewed and edited each question before it is alpha tested:

  • The author of the question
  • Two technical reviewers
  • Two psychometric (testing experts) reviewers
  • A final technical and quality assurance reviewer
  • Alpha test — Once the questions were approved by the review team, we conducted an alpha test to help us identify likely issues with the questions and determine the approximate time required to answer the questions.

Several experienced energy consultants who were not part of the development team tried out all the exam questions, and provided us with their comments on the questions.

Based on their feedback, we revised any questions they identified as ambiguous or that raised other concerns.

  • Beta test — All questions that passed the alpha test went through a beta test. During the beta test, a larger group of energy consultants, with a range of experience, completed the exam in a way that parallels how the exam will be administered in future.

Our testing experts conducted statistical analyses of the beta test results to highlight any questions that raised concerns. Then the testing experts worked with the team of subject matter experts to determine how to revise any “problem” questions.

Only those questions that make it through the entire process are included in the 2016 CEA Exams.

©2019 CABEC (California Association of Building Energy Consultants), 501(c)(6), and CABEC Advantage, 501(c)(3)

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