Education and Training Needs for High-Tech Facility Operators

Exploring Education and Training Needs for High-Tech Facility Operators

 
Dear high-tech facilities expert,

Thank you for your time to completing the following survey on high-tech facility operations education and training needs. In this survey, we define high-tech facilities as laboratories, data centers, cleanrooms, hospitals, and related facilities. Your input will help us determine the need for and scope of targeted education and training for high-tech facility operators. For this survey, we are using the following definition: a "building operator, engineer, or technician" maintains and operates mechanical building systems (including HVAC, lighting, electrical, and sometimes fire/life/safety, vacuum systems, wetlabs, and others). We recognize that there are variations to this general job description and that there may be different "titles" used by different organizations.

Background: The International Institute for Sustainable Laboratories (I2SL), and Laney College’s National Science Foundation-funded Building Efficiency for a Sustainable Tomorrow (BEST) Center are collaborating to identify education and training needs and strategies for operators of high-tech facilities. Through our interactions with industry stakeholders on multiple occasions, it is apparent that available education and training paths do not adequately address the increasingly complex knowledge and skills needed to operate and maintain high-tech facilities. Compared to commercial facilities, environmental health and safety liabilities and worker risks are much greater, the building energy use intensities are higher, and the building occupant needs are more volatile and complex. With many more high-tech facilities being created and their energy and sustainability performance requirements becoming more stringent, we expect an even greater shortage of qualified building technicians for high-tech facilities.

Through its co-sponsorship of Labs21, I2SL partnered with Laney College, and the R&D Council of the International Facility Managers Association (IFMA) to explore this need within the Labs21 community. Since 2009, Laney College and I2SL have chaired several O&M symposia at the Labs21 Annual Conference, doing so again at the I2SL Annual Conference in 2013. As such, the partners were able to arrive at a set of specific knowledge “gaps” for high-tech facility operators and managers not addressed by any known curriculum or organization.

At the Labs21 2012 Annual Conference, Laney and I2SL conducted a preliminary and informal survey to capture and verify opinions and statements that had been expressed at Labs21. The results clearly supported I2SL’s belief but as the number of participants was limited, a broader sampling was necessary.

This survey expands upon the preliminary survey and is being more widely distributed. I2SL and Laney College welcome the responses of senior facility managers, facility engineers, operators, and maintenance experts to validate the needs.

The survey should take about 15 minutes to complete. A formal report will be presented at the 2013 I2SL Annual Conference (formerly Labs21) being held in Minneapolis, MN, September 24-26 (see http://www.i2sl.org/conference/2013/index.html). A written report is expected to follow in 2014.

Thank you for your expertise and time! Those interested in working with us on this project should write us at info@i2sl.org.

Phil Wirdzek, President/Executive Director, International Institute for Sustainable Laboratories

Barbara Widhalm, PhD, Project Manager, NSF BEST Center, Laney College
1. Please indicate your employment responsibility. Select one of the following in defining your position in your high technology facility
2. Are you a union member?
3. Select one or any which best defines your range of responsibility within the facility:
4. Do you have access to hazardous spaces (excluding electric closets and central plant equipment)? Please specify which.
5. Characteristics of High-Tech Building and Facilities

Please rate the following content areas for a potential education and training program for BUILDING OPERATORS , TECHNICIANS, or ENGINEERS of high-tech facilities (general definition given in introduction). We are asking your expert advice because you are a building operator yourself or are managing or closely working with building operations staff. In regards to the competencies areas listed in the following questions, does a high-tech building operator need:

1. a "detailed understanding" to include an in-depth technical understanding, comprehensive knowledge, and frequent experience with equipment, systems, policies, and terminology;
2. a "basic understanding" to include a casual familiarity with equipment, systems, policies, and terminology, typically not involved in trouble-shooting, repair and replacement;
3. "awareness only" defining a rudimentary appreciation for function and purpose with brief exposures to equipment, systems, polices and terminology; or
4. "knowledge and skills not needed" when recognizing the individual has no exposure or responsibility to equipment, systems, policies or expected to communicate with others on these topics.

detailed understandingbasic understandingawareness onlyknowledge and skills not needed
Common objectives of high-tech facilities
Complexity of codes, standards and regulations
Sub-categories of high-tech facilities: labs
Sub-categories of high-tech facilities: data-centers
Sub-categories of high-tech facilities: cleanrooms
Sub-categories of high-tech facilities: hospitals
Use and design layout
Purpose of engineered systems
Health and Safety
Security
Other
6. Environmental Health and Safety (EH&S)
detailed understandingbasic understandingawareness onlyknowledge and skills not needed
History
Issues and concerns specific to EH&S (such as energy, water, IAQ, etc.)
Organizations (e.g., ASHRAE, AALAS, AIHA, and Authorities Having Jurisdiction)
Codes and standards review
Log-out/tag-out procedures and policies
Other
7. Chemical/Biological/Radiological issues
detailed understandingbasic understandingawareness onlyknowledge and skills not needed
What are they
Importance to each facility type
Understanding the components of risk
Storage and storage types
Areas of increased risk
Personal protection
Other
8. Risk Management through Engineered Systems: Operation of Air SUPPLY Management
detailed understandingbasic understandingawareness onlyknowledge and skills not needed
Fans, ducts, dampers, filters, room discharge
Differential pressure
Access to and servicing of roof equipment (e.g., exhaust and intake systems)
Design features for risk minimization (service corridors, chases and interstitial)
CFD modeling
Energy implications
O&M and PM (preventative maintenance) responsibilities
Other
9. Risk Management through Engineered Systems: Operation of Air EXHAUST Management Systems
detailed understandingbasic understandingawareness onlyknowledge and skills not needed
Fume Hoods/cabinets
Storage cabinets
Snorkels and table exhaust
VAV vs constant volume systems
Manifolded vs single fan exhaust
Exhaust stacks and discharge plumes
CFD modeling
Energy and resource implications
O&M and PM responsibilities
Other
10. Operation of Building Management Systems
detailed understandingbasic understandingawareness onlyknowledge and skills not needed
EMCS, DDC, BACnet, Lonworks, etc.
Central plan vs distributed capability/responsibility via dashboards
Purpose and limitations of BMS
O&M and PM responsibilities
Other
11. Energy Management in High-Tech Facilities
detailed understandingbasic understandingawareness onlyknowledge and skills not needed
Why a concern for energy
Metering and billing considerations (steam, gas, electric, water, sewage,etc)
Energy profiles (labs, data-centers, cleanrooms, hospitals)
Energy intensity and user equipment, plug loads
Transformers and breakers
Specialized systems
EH&S trade-offs
Efficiency strategies (planned vs existing facilities)
O&M and PM responsibilities with utility suppliers and systems
Other
12. Water Management
detailed understandingbasic understandingawareness onlyknowledge and skills not needed
Why concern for water supply
Energy and water nexus
Metered supply, metered use, and building considerations
Water for process operations
Water quality - why, where and when
City treatment and distribution systems
Waste water storage and on-site treatment systems
O&M and PM responsibilities
Other
13. Lighting Systems Operations
detailed understandingbasic understandingawareness onlyknowledge and skills not needed
Task and ambient
Luminence and its measurement
Shading systems and daylighting
Control strategies
O&M and PM responsibilities
Other
14. Gases
detailed understandingbasic understandingawareness onlyknowledge and skills not needed
Tanks, storage and distribution systems, and security
Suppliers and access
Maintenance and management
Authorities having jurisdiction
O&M and PM responsibilities
Other
15. Operation of Vacuum Systems
detailed understandingbasic understandingawareness onlyknowledge and skills not needed
Pumps and motors
Distribution
O&M and PM responsibilities
Other
16. Refrigeration maintenance
detailed understandingbasic understandingawareness onlyknowledge and skills not needed
Centralized systems and walk-in
Shared refrigeration units and management strategies
Control, monitoring and access
ENERGY STAR and lab refrigerators
O&M and PM responsibilities
Other
17. Storage and types
detailed understandingbasic understandingawareness onlyKnowledge and skills not needed
Biological (types and sizes)
Chemical (types and volume)
Radiological (types and strength)
Access and security
O&M and PM for each
Other
18. Information Technologies and Systems
detailed understandingbasic understandingawareness onlyknowledge and skills not needed
User and usage patterns onsite and offsite
Computational science and medicine
Links and connectivity with others
Trends in IT technologies
Closets, rooms and buildings as data-centers
Networks and equipment
Terminology
Integrating user activities with building management systems
Energy and management
O&M and PM responsibilities
Other
19. Building Information Modeling (BIM)
detailed understandingbasic understandingawareness onlyknowledge and skills not needed
Overview of BIM
Terminology
Value of information, knowing what you need to know
Managing and maintaining information
Modules that support O&M and PM
O&M and PM responsibilities
Other
20. Metering and sub-metering
detailed understandingbasic understandingawareness onlyknowledge and skills not needed
Trends and systems
Dashboards, controls, and security
Range of meters (energy to IAQ)
Benefits to owners/users, other stakeholders
O&M and PM responsibilities
Other
21. Communication, Relationships and Negotiations
detailed understandingbasic understandingawareness onlyknowledge and skills not needed
Communicating with executives
Working with users
Working with neighbors and communities
Working with authorities having jurisdiction
Increasing awareness of responsibilities
Other
22. Sustainability
detailed understandingbasic understandingawareness onlyknowledge and skills not needed
Setting goals and objectives
Supporting organizations and networking
Finding a champion and forming collaboration
Environmental management systems
International Standards of Operation (ISO), Six Sigma, etc.
Other
23. Having reviewed the topic areas above, are there other topic areas related to the operation of high-tech facilities that you would recommend be included in an education/training pathway for high-tech building operators (briefly describe in box provided)?
24. If these topic areas were assembled into coursework leading to a certificate (e.g. at a community college), would you be interested in seeking the certificate (if you are an operator) or would you encourage your operations staff to seek the certificate (if you are a building manager)?
25. If these topic areas were assembled into coursework that leads to an industry certification exam, would you seek certification (if you are the operator) or would you encourage your operations staff to seek certification (if you are the building manager)
26. Have you taken, been required, or required staff to take any professional development specifically oriented toward the operations, management or maintenance of high technology facilities?
27. If yes, please specify in what role.
28. Please specify the training institution, length, and cost of previous professional training in high-tech facilities. What was addressed? Was it adequate? What was missing?
29. Would your employer or union encourage you to seek industry certification for high-tech facilities?
30. Would your employer or union encourage you to take professional development coursework in high-tech facility operations at a community college?
31. If an industry certification for high-tech building operators were to be created, should it build upon any specific existing certification? If yes, briefly describe and explain below.
32. If certified, what increase would you expect in your earnings?
33. Please describe in the box provided what types of incentives would encourage building staff to attend training and certification in high-tech facilities?
34. Please provide the country for which your responses above are applicable.
35. Would you like to stay informed of our efforts in education and training for high-tech facility operators? Is so, please provide your contact information below.
36. Would you be interested in serving on an advisory group for this effort? (If yes, please be sure you leave your contact info above.
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