Certified Energy Analyst (CEA) FAQs

Frequently Asked Questions about (and Exam Guidelines for) 2019 Standards CEA Certification

The value of this certification is that it establishes the CEA as one who has demonstrated the necessary knowledge, ability, and experience to effectively apply Title 24, Part 6 requirements. It distinguishes proficient energy consultants from their competition and helps assure building officials, plans examiners, incentive program administrators, and other stakeholders that they are receiving quality work. CEA certification of the documentation author is required for some reach codes and incentive programs.

The Residential and Nonresidential exams have two sections:

  • A 50 question multiple-choice section in which you will select one correct answer for each question. Recertification candidates will take a 30 question exam.
  • A compliance software modeling section (known as the ACM exam) in which you will construct an energy model based on plans, and a summary of relevant input information for a proposed Residential or Nonresidential project.

If an examinee fails the exam, he/she will be eligible to retake the exam at the next available exam date. Exams are offered several times per year, at least once per quarter after the first exam of the Code cycle. Only the portion of the exam that was not passed will have to be repeated.

The CEA exam will be offered every quarter in Northern and Southern California once the code is implemented based on registration needs. Registration for the exams and an updated schedule is available through the CABEC website.

Examinees will bring a pencil, notepad, 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 link to download the Standards, manuals and other appropriate reference materials. Examinees will have access to Cabec.org as well as EnergyCodeAce.com during the exam, but all other website access is prohibited.

For 2019 Code CEA Exams, CABEC members fees are $350 for the full CEA exam (Multiple Choice and ACM portions) and $175 to retake one portion. Non-members fees are $700 for the full CEA exam and $350 to retake one portion. AEA exam fees for Members are $175 and Non-members $350. Visit the Exam Registration page for more details.

All CEAs are required to complete 9 hours of continuing education credits (CEUs) per year. Any fee incurred for those credits are in addition to fees for the CEA certification.

CABEC Members do not have a fee for their maintenance, it is included in their membership.

In the subsequent years after earning the CEA, Non-members have an Annual Maintenance Fee of $200 which is due on 12/31. This covers ongoing expenses related to CABEC’s website, customer support, and other maintenance costs for a full year for each CEA certificate we support.

  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 metrics and code compliance.
    • Describe methods of heat transfer and ways to maintain comfort conditions within living spaces; 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
    • Describe what common building energy performance metrics measure, and what factors are included in calculation of these metrics
    • Describe renewable energy design elements and explain how they affect energy design and end-use energy consumption
  2. Conduct initial project assessment and determine how to apply the 2019 California Building Energy Efficiency 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 Low-rise Residential Standards and the 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, 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, mechanical and solar PV system components
    • Analyze proposed project information to determine if all data is correct and internally consistent, and whether relevant information is missing or incomplete
  3. 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 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
  4. Modeling a building with approved energy compliance software- Determine an appropriate modeling approach, understand the limitations of the energy model, recognize minimum mandatory requirements, and evaluate compliance results based on input vs. report. Determine the source of error(s), if any.
    • Assess a proposed project to determine appropriate structure and organization of inputs to state-approved modeling software
    • Determine how the Standard Design sets the energy budget for a proposed building based on the modeled envelope, HVAC, water heating and PV system
    • Evaluate the results of a building energy model to determine whether the results shown in reports and on screen are reasonable
    • Compare the Certificate of Compliance (CF1R) and other relevant compliance forms to known or listed project information (e.g., drawings, schedules and other data from client) to determine any modeling or data entry errors
    • Identify the mandatory envelope, mechanical, water heating and lighting measures for a given project modeled using the Performance Approach
  5. Consider recommendations for improving energy performance and comfort- Use the knowledge of the project design and climate zone to make recommendations for improving energy performance to meet or exceed code
    • Evaluate the energy model for a proposed project to determine recommendations for improving envelope design to meet or exceed code
    • Evaluate the energy model for a proposed project to determine recommendations for improving mechanical system design to meet or exceed code
    • For a given project, determine applicable HERS measures, the HERS registration and verification process, and the Installation Certificates and other documentation that must be completed after permit issuance
    • Describe the general characteristics and requirements of local Tier 1 energy codes, various utility incentives, tax credits and other energy programs; and energy-related calculation methods other than the Title 24 performance approach
    • Identify defensible recommendations for improving the solar PV system to meet or exceed code for a given project
  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; energy units
    • Describe general energy efficiency and energy design concepts of buildings, 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
  2. Conduct initial project assessment and determine how to apply the 2019 California Building Energy Efficiency 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 Title 20 Appliance Efficiency Regulations
    • Analyze all information about a proposed project (e.g., drawings, related schedules and documents, information from client) to determine overall scope; 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
  3. 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 sign lighting including area take-offs in accordance with the scope, type, and compliance approach for the project
  4. Modeling a building with approved energy compliance software- Determine an appropriate modeling approach, understand the limitations of the energy model, recognize minimum mandatory requirements, and evaluate compliance results based on input vs. report. Determine the source of error(s), if any.
    • Assess a proposed project to determine appropriate structure and organization of inputs to state-approved modeling software
    • Determine how the Standard Design sets the energy budget for a proposed envelope, indoor lighting, HVAC, and service hot water
    • Evaluate the results of a building energy model to determine whether the results shown in reports and on screen are reasonable with respect to envelope and daylighting design inputs
    • Evaluate results of a building energy model to determine whether the results shown in reports and on screen are reasonable with respect to the indoor lighting inputs
    • Evaluate the results of a building energy model to determine whether the results shown in reports and on screen are reasonable with respect to the mechanical and service hot water inputs
    • Compare the Certificate of Compliance (NRCC-PRF-01-E) and other relevant compliance forms to known or listed project information (e.g., drawings, schedules and other data from client) to determine any modeling or data entry errors
  5. Consider recommendations for improving energy performance and comfort- Use the knowledge of the project design and climate zone to make recommendations for improving energy performance to meet or exceed code.
    • Evaluate the energy model for a proposed project to determine recommendations for improving envelope and daylighting design to meet or exceed code
    • Evaluate the energy model for a proposed project to determine recommendations for improving indoor lighting to meet or exceed code
    • Evaluate the energy model for a proposed project to determine recommendations for improving HVAC and service hot water systems to meet or exceed code
    • Describe the general characteristics and requirements of local Tier 1 energy codes, various utility incentives, tax credits and other energy programs; and energy-related calculation methods other than the Title 24 performance approach

Please check CABEC’s Learning Center which provides a comprehensive listing of related courses including past Brown Bag Webinars and other recorded training specifically designed to help you pass the CEA exam.

The CABEC ShareSource is a wealth of information relating to the Energy Code and tools that help Energy Consultants pursue their CEA and help their business.

CABEC also has a Mentorship Program available to CABEC members — just reach out!

Energy Code Ace is a ratepayer-funded program of the Investor Owned Utilities that maintains a valuable website for resources and hosts trainings related to the Building Energy Efficiency Standards. CEA candidates are encouraged to become familiar with EnergyCodeAce.com and the variety of tools available to support energy consultants and the building industry. . While these resources are not specifically targeted to help examinees prepare for the CEA exam; they are a good starting point. Included in the resources provided by ECA are “What’s New” and “What’s Changed” Fact Sheets:

The goal of this program is that all building energy efficiency projects that require Title 24, Part 6 energy analysis and documentation will be authored by a CEA. CABEC continues to work with the California Energy Commission, Build It Green, CAHP, LEED for Homes, the IOUs, and other program administrators to ensure that their programs require or encourage that project documents are completed by a CEA.

In 2007, the California Energy Commission designated the Residential Certified Energy Plans Examiner (CEPE) credential as a requirement for documenting the energy performance of new homes eligible for the state’s New Solar Homes Partnership (NSHP) solar PV tax credits.

In 2009, PG&E Codes and Standards Program Manager, Jill Marver, discussed with CABEC members, California Energy Commission staff and other stakeholders the possibility of creating an entirely new examination tailored to the role of energy consultants which would take the place of the CEPE program. This led to the revision of the exam using a well-documented and defensible development process. The CEA exam is part of a larger mission by the Investor Owned Utilities (IOUs) statewide Codes and Standards Program to develop specific and targeted education for different types of professionals whose work intersects with the state energy standards in order to improve compliance for the energy code. The CEA exams are tailored to the specific roles, knowledge, analytic abilities and experience which are required of energy consultants who help the building industry meet and exceed the Title 24 Part 6 energy code standards.

The CEA Exam was developed by a special team comprised of the IOU Codes and Standards team, a third party project management company, a certification exam development consulting company, CABEC members who were subject matter experts, the CABEC Board of Directors, the CEA Committee and CABEC’s Executive Director.

The team began by developing the Residential CEA exam that corresponds to the low-rise residential standards and then followed with the 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 the 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 the 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, 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. The competencies, objectives, and key content are revised by a subject matter expert team each Code cycle, and the blueprint is updated to reflect these changes.

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. Exam questions are revised each Code cycle to reflect Energy Code updates and correspond to the updated blueprint.

Four of the five competencies are tested through multiple-choice questions. Some competencies may be tested by a combination of multiple-choice questions and a “hands-on” modeling section that requires the 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 attempted 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 the 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 CEA Exams.

The CEA Exams are all updated each energy code cycle. In 2019, the AEA Accreditation Program was added for Plans Examiners, Building Officials, and all other professionals that need extensive knowledge of the energy code but do not perform ACM modeling.

  1. What best describes the mandatory slab edge insulation requirement when modeling a heated slab?
    • a. Slab edge insulation is required to reduce the heat gain.
    • b. Slab edge insulation is required to reduce the heat loss.
    • c. Slab edge insulation is only prescriptively required for heated slabs.
    • d. Slab edge insulation is only prescriptively required in climate zone 16.
  2. A builder plans to construct a home in climate zone 12 that follows the Prescriptive Component Package requirements. Which duct location would provide the least amount of heat loss/gain through the ducts?
    • a. The ventilated attic
    • b. The roof
    • c. The conditioned space
    • d. The crawlspace
  3. What is the minimum required continuous ventilation rate for a three bedroom, 1,800 ft2 single-family house located in climate zone 11?
    • a. 36 cfm
    • b. 62 cfm
    • c. 84 cfm
    • d. 102 cfm
  4. Plans for a proposed single-family home include a specification for a 66 gallon, NEEA Rated heat pump water heater with a uniform energy factor of 3.1 located in the garage. What additional specification is required to enter into the modeling software?
    • a. First Hour Rating
    • b. Make/Model number
    • c. Flow Rating
    • d. Recovery Efficiency
  5. You are working on 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 NEEA Tier 3 heat pump water heater located in the garage. For extra compliance credit, the homeowner has selected HERS verification of the existing water heater efficiency.

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

    • a. Water heater was modeled incorrectly; the results are not as expected.
    • b. Water heater 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 require HERS field verification?
    • a. Building Envelope Sealing
    • b. CRRC Certified Roofing
    • c. Attic Radiant Barrier
    • d. All of the above
  1. A new office building designed with large window areas to the north and east is to be built along the Pacific Coast in Eureka (climate zone 1). It will have no mechanical cooling. Which of the following measures is most likely to provide the best thermal comfort for the building occupants in this design location?
    • a. Cool roof
    • b. Tinted glass windows
    • c. Radiant floor heating
    • d. Attic radiant barrier
  2. A six-story high-rise residential building is proposed in climate zone 12. As an energy consultant you are asked to provide effective energy-efficiency measures for reducing TDV energy use for the project. Which of the following measures will likely result in the most energy-efficient building?
    • a. Increase the wall insulation from R-19 to R-21
    • b. Install fixed windows with an RSHGC lower than 0.25 and operable windows with an RSHCG lower than 0.22
    • c. Install low-flow plumbing fixtures in all units and fluorescent lighting in all bathrooms
    • d. Install windows with a U-factor of 0.40 or higher, and install 12 EER air conditioners
  3. A tenant improvement to an existing 1,600 ft2 Courtroom is proposed in climate zone 12. The mechanical contractor is installing a new 7 ton packaged air source heat pump with an air economizer to serve the space. What requirement would have to be met regardless of the compliance approach?
    • a. Demand control ventilation
    • b. Occupancy Sensing Zone Controls
    • c. Fault Detection and Diagnostics (FDD)
    • d. All of the above
  4. A barber shop is planned which includes a 200 ft2 waiting area, a 75 ft2 restroom, a 75 ft2 storage room and 60 ft2 for the barber chairs. What is the total allowed wattage for the general lighting?
    • a. 743.75 Watts
    • b. 763.75 Watts
    • c. 1,355 Watts
    • d. 1,485 Watts
  5. You have completed the modeling of a 9,000 ft2 single story gymnasium designed at 0.50 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 statement best describes the compliance margin you can expect to see based upon a performance analysis of the building?
    • a. No credit or penalty on total energy use.
    • b. A penalty on the heating and cooling energy use.
    • c. A penalty on the lighting energy use.
    • d. A credit on the lighting energy use.
  6. You have completed the analysis of an office building. The designer has specified a standard 50-gallon electric water heater. Which answer describes the results you expect to see for service hot water energy use when comparing standard and proposed results?
    • a. Proposed energy use will be less since the baseline would include a gas water heater.
    • b. Proposed energy use will be greater since the baseline would include a gas water heater.
    • c. Similar energy use will occur since the baseline would include an electric water heater.
    • d. There is not enough information given to properly assess the water heater energy use.

©2020 CABEC (California Association of Building Energy Consultants), 501(c)(6), and CABEC Advantage, 501(c)(3)

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