State certification program meets in Chilton County

Published 1:17 pm Tuesday, October 3, 2017

By JOYANNA LOVE/ Senior Staff Writer

Chilton County has been selected as the site for the first Building Operator Certification training in the state.

Classes began in Chilton County Oct. 3.

The training brought building and maintenance personnel from school systems and governments throughout the state to the Chilton County Board of Education for a two-day training.

Chilton County was chosen as the location for the course based on the success of its energy conservation program.

“They have leveraged getting a couple of grants from ADECA … they have had some phenomenal outcomes in what they have done,” Heather Goggin of the Alabama Department of Economic and Community Affairs energy division said.

She said the school system has seen savings and using it to upgrade equipment to have better outcomes.

The Building Operator Certification program is focused on helping those in building management and maintenance save money on energy costs. The first day focused on Optimized Operations and Maintenance, including the importance of having a plan, scheduling work and HVAC systems.

Goggin said the course was made possible through a $300,000 grant from the U.S. Department of Energy. The funds will be distributed over three years. The grant required a $69,280 match from ADECA and project partners.

The grant was awarded last year after ADECA applied with Southeast Energy Efficiency Alliance to bring Building Operator Certification to Alabama.

Goggin said the program was “focused initially on school systems and local governments.”

“It is a nationally recognized certification, so it is a national program, but it had never been done in Alabama,” Goggin said.

Classes will meet once a month for the five remaining months of the course.

“It covers things from HVAC to lighting to indoor air quality (and) safety, so it’s very comprehensive, in terms of the curriculum,” Ashley Blackwell of SEEA said. “Another great thing about the program is all of the students do hands-on projects back at their facilities, so they are taking what they have learned in the classroom and applying it.”

Goggin said these projects will help the facilities to see immediate improvements. The hope is that the savings on energy cost will then be able to help the schools and governments upgrade equipment.

Eventually, the course will also be available to those working for private companies. Goggin said the course can benefit workplace development.

“Workplace development is so important,” Goggin said. “We have so many industries and companies that come into the state.”

A level two of the certification will be offered in the future.