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The certification may not be new, but it fits into the sustainability goals of a new administration, as those overseeing BOMI’s Building Systems Maintenance Certificate (SMC) can attest.

With the Obama Administration stating goals of improving existing buildings’ by 25% in 10 years, training on the latest technology is essential, according to Building Owners and Managers Institute International (BOMI), an Annapolis, MD-based nonprofit organization focus on educating property, facility and systems professionals. While the SMC designation has existed for years, it now incorporates training and information about energy consumption and adherence to emission regulations, and continues to adapt to changing technology.

“It has evolved, and is under construction as we speak,” says BOMI trustee Lenny Jachimowicz, FMA, vice president of engineering for Marriott International. “The curriculum has evolved over time, and has recently undergone some changes to contemporize the technology section within certain parts of the curriculum.”

The SMC certificate is a preparation for the Systems Maintenance Administrator (SMA) designation, one of four offered by BOMI, which also includes: Real Property Administrator (RPA), the Facilities Management Administrator (FMA), and the Systems Maintenance Technician (SMT).

The SMC courses provide in-depth information on how HVAC, plumbing and other building systems work together, including key principles such as energy efficiency and water treatment. Students must take required courses on “Air Handling, Water Treatment, and Plumbing Systems” and “Energy Management & Controls”, and then choose between elective courses on Refrigeration Systems and Accessories, and Boilers, Heating Systems, and Applied Mathematics.

The air handling course discusses climate control for human comfort, the components of HVAC systems, and the basics of water treatment and plumbing systems, teaching such skills as performing water tests, maintaining air-conditioning systems and water services.

The energy management and controls course teaches both basic preventive maintenance tasks to the development and selling of energy strategies, focusing on HVAC, electronic, and lighting systems. Ultimately, the students will be able to perform cost/benefit analysis of HVAC, electric, and lighting systems and to create an energy management program, to optimize current systems and integrate new components.

The refrigeration course focuses on the basic refrigeration cycle and refrigeration system components, including operation and maintenance. Similarly, the heating systems course examines the inner workings of boilers, burners, controls, fittings, valves, and pumps, as well as how they connect and interrelate.

“The BOMI Systems Maintenance Certificate provides a thorough introduction to the fundamentals of efficient building systems operation,” says past-president of BOMA/Suburban Chicago, Arnold Kumorek, RPA, FMA, SMA, in a press release. “It teaches the information and skills necessary to get the best return out of your HVAC, plumbing, and control systems.”

But the knowledge gained will allow facilities professionals to reduce the energy consumption of their buildings, both to their company’s, and their environment’s benefit. According to the Environmental Information Administration’s Annual Energy Outlook for 2008, commercial and residential buildings consume 40% of the total energy and 72% of the total electricity used in the United States.

“It’s good for business and the environment,” Jachimowicz says. “They’re going to continue to get even more green, focus on energy management and efficient building opportunities.”

Other organizations also have integrated sustainability into their educational offerings: BOMA International and the EPA’s Energy Star program have created BEEP–the BOMA Energy Efficiency Program–a six-course series to educate commercial real estate professionals about energy management.

BOMA and BOMI are two separate organizations, though the two work closely together and BOMI courses are considered a key benefit for BOMA members, explains a BOMI spokeswoman. Even so, the uncertain economy may be slowing the growth of BOMI’s certificate program, Jachimowicz acknowledges.”We had hoped we would see people retool [their skills] by taking our classes, but we haven’t seen that,” he says. Those who have been taking the course, however, could have an edge in the future job market.

“If it comes down to two candidates, and if one has invested two years getting an FMA or SMA, it means they’ve made an effort,” Jachimowicz says. “You wouldn’t take your taxes to someone who’s not a CPA.”

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