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Legislation for Training Federal Facilities Personnel Has Wide Industry Support

Friday, April 30, 2010  
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New legislation addressing training for federal facilities personnel has wide approval from the construction industry. Organizations and associations representing the full breadth of the building community support the bill because it ensures those personnel who maintain federal buildings will have the necessary skills they need to meet the government's energy efficiency and high-performance goals.

The Federal Buildings Personnel Training Act of 2010 (otherwise known as House Bill 5112 and Senate Bill 3250) was introduced in Congress last week by Representatives Russ Carnahan (D-Mo.) and Judy Biggert (R-Ill.), and Senators Tom Carper (D-Del.) and Susan Collins (R-Maine). The National Institute of Building Sciences, along with other leading organizations in the building community, worked with the act's authors to identify the need for training and to develop the bill's content.

The U.S. Congress and the President have established stringent goals for federal agencies to achieve reductions in energy and water use and greenhouse gas emissions. Achieving these goals requires personnel engaged in the design, construction, operation and maintenance of federal buildings to have the appropriate skills and training. The new Act will provide agencies with direction on those necessary tools.

The anticipated outcomes of training federal facilities personnel will:

  • Save Taxpayer Dollars on Operations and Maintenance Costs: With the bill's oversight, taxpayers will save money through more efficient operations and management of the federal building stock. A recent study by the International Facilities Management Association (IFMA) showed that for every $1 spent on facility management training, organizations reported receiving an average of $3.95 in return.
  • Identify Core Competencies for Personnel: The bill directs the U.S. General Services Administration (GSA), with input from the related professional societies, associations and training providers, to identify the core competencies federal personnel need to perform building operations and maintenance, energy management, safety and design functions to comply with federal law.
  • Ensure Personnel Posses Core Competencies: The training bill requires GSA to identify the courses, certifications, degrees, licenses and registrations federal facilities personnel will need to demonstrate possession of core competencies, which will also be required of federal contractors. Contractor competence is especially important because 97% of all GSA operations and management are contracted out. Training courses will be taught by private industry, apprenticeship training providers or institutions of higher education, not GSA.
  • Require Continuing Education: GSA will work with industry and labor groups to develop and identify comprehensive continuing education courses to ensure federal buildings keep up with industry best practices.
  • Provide Certainty to Business: With these core competencies in place, private industry and laborers will have a defined skill set required to participate in federal buildings operations and management around the country.

The bill essentially establishes a baseline for the required education and training of federal and contract operations and maintenance personnel. This will be critically important as buildings become more complex to deal with increasingly stringent goals for energy and water use.

The idea for the newly introduced legislation resulted from a report prepared by the High Performance Building Congressional Caucus Coalition (HPBCCC), a private-sector coalition that provides guidance and support to the High-Performance Buildings Caucus of the U.S. Congress. (The National Institute of Building Sciences is a member of the Coalition's steering committee.) Rep. Carnahan, co-chair of the Caucus, asked the HPBCCC to put together a report on what the needs within federal agencies would be to achieve high-performance buildings. Upon completion of the report, Carnahan asked the HPBCCC to put the recommendations into legislative language. The Federal Buildings Personnel Training Act of 2010 was the first introduced legislation to result from the report. Other related pieces are in various stages of development.

Read the Senate bill. Read the House Bill. Learn more about the HPBCCC report recommendations.

The National Institute of Building Sciences, authorized by public law 93-383 in 1974, is a nonprofit, nongovernmental organization that brings together representatives of government, the professions, industry, labor and consumer interests to identify and resolve building process and facility performance problems. The Institute serves as an authoritative source of advice for both the private and public sectors with respect to the use of building science and technology.

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