Building personnel face new green training expectations

Monday - 7/23/2012, 4:01pm EDT

By Esther Carey
Special to Federal News Radio

Federal building personnel or contract employees now must prove within one year that they meet a job-specific core competency checklist, possibly by participating in training sessions. The General Services Administration released the skills requirements and facility-management curriculum recommendations in Monday's Federal Register.

Congress required GSA to develop these training guidelines in the Federal Buildings Personnel Training Act, which President Barack Obama signed into law in December 2010.

The GSA Office of Federal High-Performance Green Buildings will launch an online training center to facilitate the process by Aug. 1. The site will combine the competencies list and curriculum with the goal of maximizing building performance.

GSA consulted with industry and professional groups to develop information about the skills necessary for personnel in various facilities positions to do their jobs. Particular areas of focus include building operations and maintenance, water efficiency, electrical safety and building sustainability.

Feedback on initial job task analyses indicated that GSA's first assessments aimed too high. Also, diversity among various agency models created a challenge for developing a universal implementation policy.

The final product provides skill checklists for a variety of particular jobs in various areas of building-related categories, ranging from operating central heating and cooling systems to planning facility design. The Office of Personnel Management is creating an online system for employees to indicate what professional training they have received previously. Supervisors will work with employees to plan on how to bridge the "gap" between the employee's skills and the needed competencies.

GSA developed the curriculum recommendations to help ensure employees meet the applicable competencies.

The recommendation provides two lists, each with six already-developed online courses. One applies to "hands-on" personnel at large or stand-alone facilities, while the other is intended for the management personnel who oversee them.

Esther Carey is an intern at Federal News Radio.

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