ASHRAE says it has accepted an invitation from the U.S. Department of Energy to join an effort aimed at improving building performance through a better prepared workforce. The goal is to advance the skill sets of engineers and other professionals involved in building design, operation, and commissioning.

Under DOE leadership, a board of advisors has been created for the Commercial Workforce Credentialing Council (CWCC). This board will be led by the National Institute of Building Sciences (NIBS) with the participation of ASHRAE and other credentialing and professional development organizations. They will work to establish a set of voluntary national guidelines to improve the quality and consistency of commercial building workforce credentials.

According to ASHRAE, the Better Buildings Workforce Guidelines will reduce the confusion and uncertainty around workforce credentialing; lower costs; and support better credentials, better workers, and better buildings. The guidelines will seek to set an industry-validated Job Task Analysis (JTA) for each job title, as well as certification schemes and learning objectives for training programs.

Initially the guidelines will address commercial building workforce training and certification programs for five key energy-related jobs: energy auditor, commissioning professional, building/operations professional, facility manager, and energy manager.

Three of ASHRAE’s certification programs are part of this initial development: Commissioning Process Management Professional, Building Energy Assessment Professional, and Operations and Performance Management Professional

Once implemented, industry certification programs must then receive accreditation from the American National Standards Institute in order to be recognized by DOE as meeting voluntary guidelines for the Better Buildings Workforce. This accreditation provides independent verification that the certifications are developed, maintained, and administered according to the highest standards of the testing industry. ASHRAE has already begun the process of seeking ANSI accreditation in anticipation of this requirement.

“ASHRAE’s involvement in this process is very important,” said William “Bill” Bahnfleth, ASHRAE president. “Participating in the development of the guidelines gives us a voice in how the workforce of our industry will be developed. These guidelines will ensure that quality services are provided by professionals with recognized certifications to increase consumer confidence in the service provided and ultimately to ensure the quality of our future building stock.”