March 2008
Interview
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Jim Sinopoli

EMAIL INTERVIEW  Jim Sinopoli & Ken Sinclair

Jim Sinopoli, Principal, Sinopoli and Associates
Author of "Smart Buildings"

Contributing Editor


Industry Certification

There is definitely a need for manufacturer-independent certification to legitimize and provide credibility to the industry.

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Sinclair:  What is the current status for certification to address the integration of building systems?

Sinopoli:  There is a lot of interest in certification by not only people in the industry but others involved in designing, constructing and operating buildings. Building owners want to be assured that the contractor hired to integrate the systems is qualified to do so. Many design teams want to embrace integrated systems but want to make sure that the integration designers are qualified via some certification process. A short antidote: at the national AIA convention this year in a session of about 350-400 architects regarding integrated systems, one of the first questions from the audience was “Where do I find certified and qualified people to design these systems?”  There is definitely a need for manufacturer-independent certification to legitimize and provide credibility to the industry.

Sinclair:  What about past efforts?

Sinopoli:  There was an effort about a year ago with six of the major industry organizations to move to some type of certification. The organizations all saw the need. However, without any substantial financial backing and manpower resources the effort withered away. Two positive things did result from the effort. One was the recognition of the need for collaborative education and cooperation between the organizations. An internal survey of some of the organization’s membership found for example, someone in the audio-visual industry was interested in taking a session on HVAC control, or someone specializing in security systems was interested in learning more about IT. I think this type of “cross-education” between organizations such as BOMA, Infocomm, ASHRAE, BICSI and others could be a precursor to formal certification, expanding the organizations’ marketing reach, providing some great information about the number and types of people interested in certification and providing the basis for a certification.

CatNet Systems Sinclair:  What else came as a result of that effort?

Sinopoli:  Another positive thing was the recognition that there is a vast array of ways in which to certify people and organizations. At one end of the range, people could be certified for attendance at an educational session, maybe one of the cross-education sessions. At the other end of the certification range, is the formal ANSI process for testing and certification. It could be that our industry starts at one end and gradually builds the certification into a very formal testing and certification offering.

Sinclair:  Where are things right now?

Sinopoli:  CABA has identified certification as a critical part of their Roadmap, and has tasked me with leading the effort. In order to proceed and eventually deliver to the industry the certification that is recognized as critical, the effort will need support, both financial and manpower resources. This could take the form of individual volunteering, company funding or grants specifically for this effort in order to cover expenses, in-kind contributions, etc.

I’d welcome anyone or any company interested in participating in the effort and contributing to the development of an industry certification to contact me at jsinopoli@smart-buildings.com. The effort will start out with a series of conference calls to organize and detail out how we will proceed, followed by face-to-face meetings at upcoming key industry conferences. If it’s OK with you Ken, I’d like to periodically provide an update of the effort to the readers of www.automatedbuildings.com.

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