In the aftermath of Earth Day festivities—celebrated last week by millions throughout the world—the Association for Facilities Engineering is encouraging U.S. legislators to maintain year-round support for Earth Day objectives by enacting legislation to ensure federal facilities are operated at peak efficiency.
The Federal Buildings Personnel Training Act of 2010, introduced by Representatives Russ Carnahan (D-MO) and Judy Bigger (R-IL) along with Senators Tom Carper (D-DE) and Susan Collins (R-ME) would ensure that federal facilities are operated and maintained by workers who are trained and certified in these highly complex building systems.
“Earth Day is an exciting day that helps remind people of the importance of protecting our environment and saving energy,” said Laurence Gration, CEO of AFE. “But just as protecting the environment is a year-round task, operating high efficiency ‘lean and green buildings’ at peak energy efficiency is also a year-round job, requiring the efforts of facilities professionals whose skills have been certified by expert organizations like AFE.”
According to Gration, AFE sees great opportunity for both the public and private sectors in the proposed legislation. “Recent studies have shown that organizations save approximately four dollars for every dollar they invest in training facilities professionals,” he said.
AFE envisions the legislation as a way for the Federal government to model best practices in the operation and maintenance of high efficiency buildings systems. “By passing this legislation, the federal government will demonstrate by correctly maintaining high performance buildings, huge savings in energy and water costs can be achieved,” he said. “But those dividends can only be attained when appropriately trained workers maintain high efficiency buildings at peak performance levels.”
“This legislation is an opportunity to lead by example, and demonstrate the immense savings and efficiency that can be achieved by making smart investments in human energy,” noted Rep. Judy Biggert (R-IL), co-chair of the Congressional High-Performance Building Caucus.
An often overlooked benefit of the legislation is job creation, according to Gration. While tens of millions of Americans are currently feeling the effects of chronic unemployment, National Public Radio recently reported on the growing shortage of skilled facilities workers. Gration sees the legislation as a way for the government, in conjunction with AFE and other professional societies, to provide training for some of these unemployed workers, both directly and indirectly.
“In demonstrating how organizations can save millions of dollars in energy and other costs by using trained and certified workers to maintain high performance buildings,” Gration said, “the federal government will also model the cost-effectiveness of that approach. Once these workers are trained to maintaining high efficiency and sustainable buildings, they will make themselves more valuable to both current or future employers-and help relieve the current shortage of trained building trades workers in the process.”
Gration noted that AFE has long been a leader in certification of facilities maintenance and operations professionals. Maintenance of high performance facilities is an important part of AFE’s Certified Plant Engineer, Certified Plant Maintenance Manager, and Certified Plant Supervisor certifications.
Recognizing the growing importance of energy efficient buildings and other facilities, AFE has been developing and will soon unveil a new certification devoted entirely to energy efficiency.