The Standard Work Specifications (SWS) are a free online tool and industry guide that defines the minimum acceptable outcomes for home energy upgrades.

What Are the SWS?

The SWS define the minimum acceptable outcomes for home energy upgrades installed on single-family, multifamily, and manufactured housing. The SWS reflect a whole-house approach to installing energy efficiency measures, which can include ventilation, insulation, and air sealing. 

By developing industry-approved work specifications and defining quality work, the SWS help establish residential energy upgrades as a national industry, and provide a common benchmark against which consumers, financers, and policymakers can measure performance of home energy efficiency measures.

Developing the SWS

The National Renewable Energy Laboratory and the U.S. Department of Energy's Weatherization Assistance Program developed the SWS in collaboration with industry subject matter experts, program administrators, health and safety experts, weatherization contractors, and product manufacturers. 

Federal partners at the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), U.S. Department of Agriculture, and U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development also contributed to the SWS.

Safe work practices, relevant codes, and EPA Healthy Indoor Environment Protocols for Home Energy Upgrades are included in the SWS, which were also thoroughly vetted in an extensive public and industry review process.

Defining Quality Work

Rather than prescribing specific actions, materials, or techniques, the SWS identify outcomes for each energy-efficiency measure, listing the minimum set of requirements necessary to meet those outcomes. This approach allows for process innovation and changes in technology and is designed to encourage the private market to stay engaged in the ever-evolving weatherization industry.

The Weatherization Assistance Program encourages stakeholders to comment on the SWS to suggest revisions or feedback for improvement. To ensure the SWS continue to represent industry-wide best practices, maintenance committees evaluate and approve updates to the SWS with input from the public.

Learn more about the maintenance process on the SWS website.

Online Tool Features

Create a Field Guide

Learn how to create a free customizable field guide on the SWS Help page.

Along with access to the industry-approved work specifications, the SWS online tool provides its users with the ability to build, customize, and share field guides. This feature allows users the flexibility they need to create guides for implementing weatherization measures specific to their needs. Features include:

  • Branding the cover page with a customizable title, logo, and disclaimer.
  • Selecting relevant details and adding images and captions.
  • Choosing to make the field guide private or shared with the community.
  • Accessing other community-shared guides.
  • Downloading the customized field guide as a PDF.

Key Resources

Explore the resources below to learn more about the SWS, and how they fit into the Weatherization Assistance Program's mission to reduce energy costs for low-income households by increasing the energy efficiency of homes, while ensuring health and safety.

SWS Fact Sheet
The SWS are a free online tool and industry guide that define the minimum acceptable outcomes for home energy upgrades.
Weatherization Assistance Program Grantee Manager's Training Toolkit
Collection of Weatherization Assistance Program materials and resources, categorized by topic, to provide training and resources for new or experienced Program Managers.
How To Use the SWS
Learn the significance of the whole-house assessment, how to use the online tool, and related healthy indoor environment protocols.
EPA Healthy Indoor Environment Protocols for Home Energy Upgrades
This resource provides practical guidance on improving or maintaining indoor environmental quality during home energy upgrades.
Weatherization Installer Job Aids and Interactive 3D Houses
Weatherization job aids are step-by-step visual guides created to assist home energy professionals with effective, durable, and safe energy efficiency upgrades.