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Part 1: Energy Efficiency Blueprint?
By Dan Hounsell, Editor
May 2012 -
Soon, maintenance and engineering managers are likely to have a blueprint for energy efficiency. Well, they'll have blueprint for a blueprint, at least.
The blueprint will come thanks to the Federal Buildings Personnel Training Act of 2010, which was enacted in December 2010. The act requires that within 18 months of enactment, the General Services Administration (GSA) must identify the essential skills and training front-line technicians in federal facilities need to be able to operate and maintain buildings energy efficiently.
Specifically, the act says the GSA must "identify the core competencies necessary for federal personnel performing building operations and maintenance, energy management, safety, and design functions to comply with requirements under federal law." These core competencies cover training for: building operations and maintenance; energy management; sustainability; water efficiency; safety, including electrical safety; and building-performance measures.
Almost any organization can benefit from a clear, concise outline of the specific skills front-line technicians need to make facilities more operate more energy efficiently. Granted, energy efficiency is only one component of the myriad activities maintenance and engineering departments are responsible for in facilities. But it's essential.
Having these core competencies clearly spelled out can help facilities take a major step toward energy efficiency. But they are only a blueprint for a larger and more ambitious blueprint. Once technicians have a clear path to follow to obtain these desired skills, managers still will have to develop and implement — or update and fine-tune — a preventive maintenance program that effectively puts technicians upgraded skills into practice.
The impact of these core competencies is likely to go well beyond federal buildings. Managers in all types of buildings will be able to use them to streamline their hiring practices, structure technician training programs, and reorganize their departments to enhance facilities' energy efficiency.
In the same way many facilities use key elements of the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design for Existing Buildings (LEED-EB) rating system to improve sustainability in their facilities — even if they are not pursuing LEED certification — managers soon will have practical tools they can use to improve the skills of their front-line technicians.
Dan Hounsell offers observations about trends in maintenance and engineering management and the evolving role of managers in facilities.
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