Workforce Development, Energy Use in Buildings

Building Efficiency for a Sustainable Tomorrow (BEST) Center

As more existing buildings are retrofitted and stringent environmental regulations are established for new buildings, demand is also rapidly increasing for highly-trained technicians to operate and maintain technologically-complex, “high performance” buildings. In turn, education and training must prepare technicians to manage multiple building systems including heating, ventilation, air conditioning and refrigeration (HVAC/R), lighting, building automation, energy management, security, and indoor air quality. Technicians are also becoming essential to ensuring occupant health, energy conservation, and financial savings.

  • Peter Crabtree
    BEST Center PI
  • Larry Chang
    BEST Center Director

The Building Efficiency for a Sustainable Tomorrow (BEST) Center supports publicly-funded 2- and 4-year colleges with programs in HVAC/R, controls, building automation, and energy and facilities management. Sponsored by Advanced Technological Education grants from the National Science Foundation, this national collaborative promotes state-of-the-art building technician education and dissemination of the latest research, technology, and industry collaborations in energy-efficient buildings.

To prepare technicians to manage building systems and energy use, the BEST Center organizes a national forum on the role of technicians in energy efficiency, advocates for advanced technical education and high-performance building operations, and facilitates the dissemination and adoption of exceptional curricula and technical programs in sustainable building performance.

As part of these efforts, BEST is also developing a national certification program for High Performance Building Operations Technical Professionals. An industry-validated map of the knowledge and skill requirements for this field has been completed, and an exam for qualified individuals to obtain the certification is under development. College partners will also be able to align building science curricula to the certification.

The BEST Center addresses critical needs by providing model curricula, professional development for instructors, career pathways for students & career-changers, and dissemination of research to advance building technician education. By leveraging resources from schools, non-profits, industry, and government, the project aims to:

  • build and transform community colleges in the field of building systems technician education
  • engage industry stakeholders with community colleges by creating a network of industry advisors and research laboratories
  • strengthen the national STEM (science, technology, engineering, math) pipeline for educating building technicians and engineers