Article Date: 10/18/2013

How Much of a Cost Savings Will the ‘Better Buildings Workforce Guidelines’ Be Able to Facilitate?

By Steve Rizer


One of the stated goals of the “Better Buildings Workforce Guidelines” that the new National Institute of Building Sciences (NIBS)-U.S. Department of Energy partnership will develop is to lower costs, but how much money can be saved through this endeavor, either on a per-building basis or overall within the commercial sector? 


In response to this question, NIBS Program Director Deke Smith told ConstructionPro Week, “Industry studies have shown that average-sized commercial buildings employing skilled, qualified building operators can save over $5,000 per year in energy costs,” Smith said. “The guidelines will also lower costs for training and certification programs that will soon have access to high-quality national guidelines to use in their programs.”


The partnership, formed last month, aims to coordinate an industry-driven process to develop voluntary national guidelines for commercial building workforce credentials. Besides lowering costs, the partnership seeks to “reduce the confusion and uncertainty around workforce credentialing” and “support better credentials, better workers, and better buildings” via the guidelines, according to NIBS. 


“Improving the operational performance of commercial buildings requires highly skilled and qualified workers, particularly as building technologies become more advanced,” NIBS said. “Yet, the lack of national guidelines for energy-related professional credentials represents a major barrier to the quality, consistency, and scalability of this workforce. The Better Buildings Workforce Guidelines initially will address commercial building workforce training and certification programs for five key energy-related jobs: energy auditor; commissioning professional; building/stationary engineer; facility manager; and energy manager.”


The guidelines will set an industry-validated Job Task Analysis for each job title, as well as certification schemes (blueprints) and learning objectives for training programs.


The institute established the Commercial Workforce Credentialing Council, which will consist of private- and public-sector industry stakeholders, to lead development of the guidelines. By the spring of 2015, the guidelines are scheduled to be available to the U.S. commercial building industry, including professional certification bodies, labor union training funds, or apprenticeship program sponsors; private training providers; and career and technical higher-education programs.



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