HVAC Supports New Federal Personnel Training Bill

Some types of new legislation are moving forward with bipartisan support, as well as support of the HVAC and building industry, particularly the American Society of Heating, Refrigerating, and Air-Conditioning Engineers (ASHRAE) and the International Facility Management Association (IFMA).

Representatives Russ Carnahan (D-Mo.) and Judy Biggert (R-Ill.,) and Senators Tom Carper (D-Del.) and Susan Collins (R-Maine) just introduced the “Federal Buildings Personnel Training Act of 2010,” which calls for professional training and credentialing of all federal building personnel. The legislation was introduced on April 22.

IFMA has recognized the bill’s cosponsors as being leaders in Congress, and said it “fully supports their bipartisan efforts to implement industry best practices and common-sense solutions in the operation and maintenance of federal facilities.”

The legislation also was supported by ASHRAE and 33 other organizations involved in the design, construction, operation, and maintenance of buildings, as well as by the High-Performance Buildings Congressional Caucus Coalition (HPBCCC), a private-sector building coalition established and chaired by ASHRAE. The HPBCCC supports the High-Performance Buildings Caucus of the U.S. Congress, which is co-chaired by Carnahan.

BILL'S IMPORTANCE

The bill directs the General Services Administration (in consultation with industry associations and others) to identify core competencies, professional certifications, a recommended curriculum, and continuing education courses to ensure that federal buildings are operated in accordance with industry best practices and standards.

The legislation would help provide federal workers with the necessary training to construct and maintain environmentally sound buildings. Federal workers could be trained in a series of core competencies for building operations, maintenance, energy management, safety, and future performance. Workers taking courses would be able to obtain licenses and certification.

“This is an important piece of legislation for the design, construction, operation, and maintenance of our nation’s federal buildings,” said Gordon Holness, ASHRAE president. “The federal government sets an example for the rest of the nation, and its efforts are a visible example of what can be accomplished in building and maintaining energy-efficient buildings with high indoor environmental quality.”

Doug Read, ASHRAE program director of government affairs, noted that the society will work with organizations such as NIBS, the U.S. Green Building Council, and the American Institute of Architects, on behalf of this measure.

“Facilities still account for at least 40 percent of all energy use in the United States and 40 percent of atmospheric emissions, including greenhouse gas emissions that contribute to global climate change,” said Thomas L. Mitchell Jr., chairman of the IFMA board of directors. “As America’s largest real property owner, the federal government can play a significant role in recruiting and retaining facility professionals with the skills and experience required to reduce the impact their facility portfolios have on the natural and built environments.”

According to recent IFMA research, every $1 spent on facility management training can result in an average $3.95 in return.

“Sustainability and energy conservation isn’t just about the air we breathe or the water we drink,” said Carnahan. “It’s about saving money for families, businesses, and taxpayers. If we’re going to be responsible stewards of taxpayer dollars, in addition to investing in energy-efficient buildings, we must invest in the people maintaining those buildings so that we recoup the largest energy and cost savings possible.”

“The bill is a bipartisan example of the way the federal government can set an example for the rest of our country in developing and maintaining environmentally efficient buildings in accord with Standard 90.1, which sets minimum energy requirements for buildings,” Read said.

For more information, visit www.carnahan.house.gov.

Publication date: 05/24/2010

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