U.S. Department of Energy - Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy

Federal Energy Management Program – Guide to Integrating Renewable Energy in Federal Construction


Training is critical to successfully implementing, operating, and maintaining renewable energy systems in new Federal construction or major renovation. This section outlines the different training needs of project management, design, and facility management staff.

Designing and integrating a successful renewable energy project requires training on renewable energy system specifics, especially since systems are specialized components of a building project. Once in place, renewable energy system successful operation relies on the operations and maintenance (O&M) staff, who should fully understand the system and its interaction with other building systems.

Training is necessary at various stages of a new construction or major renovation project to ensure the staff has the right knowledge at the right time. Training needs vary according to staff experience with renewable energy, but key times to consider training are during the conceptual phase, at the start of a project, before the building design phase, and after the project construction phase.

This section introduces training requirements across different groups, including:

Training Federal personnel responsible for building construction recently received additional attention with the passage of the Federal Buildings Personnel Training Act of 2010. This legislation presents an opportunity to increase agency understanding of renewable energy technologies in building construction by specifying additional training opportunities for personnel responsible for building operations, maintenance, energy management, safety, and future performance.

Project Management Staff

Federal agencies should ensure that expertise in renewable energy issues and requirements are well represented across the project management staff prior to new construction and major renovation projects. This is critical to ensure the project is guided by informed decision-makers and that specifications, such as the request for proposals, include the proper language.

Renewable energy systems are becoming more common on buildings, and renewable energy requirements on Federal buildings are becoming more stringent. It is critical to train pertinent staff prior to or very early on in the project planning phase so that they are familiar with the process of incorporating renewables into a building project. For example, agency staff should understand how renewable energy relates to Federal energy requirements. Staff should learn how to conduct a preliminary screening for renewable energy options, and how to initiate a full screening of renewable resources, policies, and economics. Effective training upfront helps ensure technologies deliver the expected value in the finished project.

For information on training opportunities on renewable energy topics, see the renewable energy training and education section.

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Design Staff

If outside architects and engineers design a project, the agency can specify certain renewable energy skills and experience in the procurement process. If in-house staff members design the project, however, they might need specific training on incorporating renewable energy. Even if the design team decides to hire outside assistance with specific renewable energy technologies, the team still must have a working knowledge of technologies that allows them to understand how renewable energy systems interrelate with other building designs and controls.

The design staff must be able to consider all feasible renewable energy technologies and develop and incorporate optimized designs into all aspects of the design process up to and including the construction documents. Well-trained and experienced design staff produce the best designs. Agencies with in-house design staff may want to consider new hires or subcontracts to fill any gaps in experience.

For information on training opportunities on renewable energy topics, see the renewable energy training and education section.

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Operations and Maintenance Staff

After renewable energy systems are designed, installed, and commissioned, building O&M staff need training to ensure systems function at the highest level possible. This usually involves hands-on training with the equipment and a full O&M manual that can be used as a daily reference.

Although staff needing training vary from site to site, the facilities staff, building manager, and building energy manager should generally attend at a minimum. The training should cover basic information about the workings of the technology and the amount of energy the renewable energy system typically produces. It should also supply practical information on operating and maintaining systems and troubleshooting any problems. The training should also explain how the renewable energy systems affect and interact with other controls and facility systems.

The level of training required depends on the renewable energy technology. Some technologies are more involved than others. Checklists for any of the renewable energy technologies help staff perform routine checks on the system. Refresher training for all renewable energy technologies should be offered to ensure that the system operates at the highest level throughout its lifetime and that the staff is kept current on the technologies. To keep training at the forefront, future training courses should be scheduled early.

For additional information, see the operations and maintenance training section.

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