March 2007
  
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Certification for Designers and Installers

The Industry’s Path Forward for Credibility

   Jim Sinopoli

  Jim Sinopoli PE, RCDD
Managing Principal
Contributing Editor

Author of "Smart Buildings"

Truly integrated building systems will not become the norm in building design and installation without designers and installers having credentials similar to other design professionals and contractors on the job.

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First, let’s make clear that in most work involving new construction or renovations, there is a team of professional designers (consisting of the architects, engineers and consultants) and a construction team (consisting of a construction manager or general contractor and supporting subcontractors). This is the traditional design-bid delivery method for construction. Other delivery methods will have similar players in slightly different relationships to each other and the owner. Recently, it has been argued that designers and contractors are one in the same, which may be the case in certain situations. However, for the majority of new building construction, there is a team that designs the building and a team that constructs the building.

The point is this. The industry needs credentials for those designing integrated building systems so that they can be recognized by the design team and owner as having the requisite skill sets and knowledge. The industry also needs certification process for the contractors installing the integrated systems so they can be recognized as having the qualifications to perform the work and properly install integrated systems.

REQUIREMENTS OF THE CREDENTIALS

What should these credentials involve or consider?

EXAMPLES OF EXISTING CREDENTIALING

There are credentialing models from several organizations that touch on parts of integrated building technology systems. Here are just a couple examples we can learn from:

Tridium There appears to be plenty to build on to lay a foundation for certification of those involved in integrated building technology systems. No one organization covers the span of knowledge needed for providing credentials for a truly integrated building. It is similar to the situation Tom Lohner has addressed regarding the plethora of conferences and conventions one must attend to stay up on the industry.

THE PATH FORWARD

The path forward to credentialing for integrated building systems will require cooperation among several different organizations. One organization may need to take the lead or be selected by the other organizations to take the lead in administering the credentials, including initial testing, continuing education and renewals, etc. But deciding on the knowledge base for certification, and ultimately the legitimacy of the credential certificate in the industry and marketplace will require organizations who may not have worked together in the past or who even may view each other as competitors to collaborate.

Many in the profession view the legacy building design process and the subsequent installation process as fragmented. Credentialing could be part of the “glue” to bring it all together and enhance the credibility of the industry with building owners.

The major independent organizations involved in some aspect of integrated building technology systems will have to begin the process by:

Major industry manufacturers and contractors should be welcomed and invited into the process to reflect their views of the marketplace needs and to assist the industry organizations.

What organizations and private companies are up for this? If you are interested in working with me to facilitate meetings and conference calls to move this approach towards comprehensive certification and credentials, contact me at jim.sinopoli@sinopoli-associates.com.


About the Author

For over 25 years, Mr. Sinopoli has worked extensively on projects involving the configuration and optimization of building technology systems and networks. Mr. Sinopoli has spoken on numerous occasions at conferences and seminars focusing on high technology issues and has received the international “Harry J. Pfister” award from the Building Industry Consulting Service International (BICSI).

Mr. Sinopoli has experience in the healthcare, corporate, education, manufacturing, finance, construction and government industry sectors. His clients have included Fortune 100 corporations, the US Postal Service, the US Air Force, major K-12 school districts throughout the county, statewide university systems, airports and ports, the Internal Revenue System, large private and public hospitals, technology companies, and nationwide developers. His international experience includes projects in Asia, Europe, South America and Africa.

Mr. Sinopoli's educational credits include a B.S. in Engineering from Purdue University and a M.A. in Applied Science and Management from Governor's State University. He is a licensed Professional Engineer and a Registered Communications Distribution Designer. He recently authored a book titled “Smart Buildings”.

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