Better Buildings Gain Three Centers of Excellence

Earlier this week we reported on President Obama’s Better Buildings Initiative, which is challenging the nation to cut its carbon footprint (and save around $40 billion a year) by increasing the energy efficiency in municipal and commercial buildings by 20 percent by 2020. Now the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) has announced its selections for three Centers for Building Operations Excellence as part of the Better Buildings Initiative that that will receive a total of $1.3 million to create and deploy programs aimed at training building operators in strategies for saving both cash and carbon.

The three Centers for Building Operations Excellence will be located in three states that have made headlines in recent years for their efforts to improve energy efficiency in the built environment: California, New York and Pennsylvania. Each will partner with a universities, the local community and technical colleges, trade associations, and the DOE’s national labs to build training programs designed to give commercial building professionals the skills needed to optimize building efficiency while reducing waste and cutting overhead. These centers will be jointly funded by the DOE and the U.S. Department of Commerce’s National Institute of Standards and Technologies’ Manufacturing Extension Partnership (NIST MEP).

Empire State Building

image via Empire State Building

These Centers for Building Operations Excellence were chosen through a competitive grants process that invited applications from multi-organization partnerships with the support of their local and state governments. The Corporation for Manufacturing Excellence  in California will be partnering with Laney College and the International Union of Operating Engineers Local 39; the Delaware Valley Industrial Resource Center in Pennsylvania will partner with Pennsylvania State University, Pennsylvania College of Technology and Drexel University; and the New York State Department of Economic Development in New York will work with City University of New York and Rochester Institute of Technology.

The recently announced funding for these Centers will help them develop their curricula and pilot training programs for building operators, managers and energy service providers, with a focus on building re-tuning, energy management and building operations in commercial, industrial and educational buildings. Training here will outline steps that building operators can take to reduce energy consumption, save money and “drive continuous improvement in a broad range of commercial buildings.” More information is available online.

Susan DeFreitas has covered all manner of green technology for EarthTechling since 2009. She is a graduate of Prescott College for the Liberal Arts and the Environment, and has a background in marketing green businesses. Her work on green living has been featured in Yes! Magazine, the Utne Reader and Natural Home.