Getting Antsy for ANSI Accreditation

by Bruce Pitts, CPMP, CSBA, LEED AP

This article is part of Wood Harbinger’s newsletter series.

Two and a half years, 72 documents, and 14.9 GB of data. That’s what it took for the Building Commissioning Certification Board (BCCB) to submit for American National Standards Institute (ANSI) ISO 17024:2012 accreditation. As of February 16th, the submittal is in.

First off, I’d like to congratulate my colleagues on the closing of this chapter in the long journey down the path of ANSI accreditation for the Certified Commissioning Professional (CCP) certification. The rest of you may be wondering, what could possibly be worth such blood, sweat, and tears?

About ANSI

ANSI in an internationally accepted accreditation program for all manner of certifications. Achieving accreditation requires a highly rigorous screening and, once accredited, periodic audits to confirm that the accredited person, business, or product is still meeting ANSI’s standards. In their own words, “ANSI Accreditation provides assurance that standards, goods, and services meet essential requirements throughout the global supply chain – engendering consumer trust and fostering competitiveness. Increasingly, procurement authorities, government agencies, and program/scheme owners are specifying accreditation in order to demonstrate the technical competence and impartiality of conformance services and processes. These assessments enhance confidence between buyers and sellers as they mitigate risk.”

A Push to Standardize

A couple of these agencies moving to requiring ANSI accreditation are the National Institute of Building Sciences (NIBS) and the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE). About two and half years ago, NIBS and the DOE determined that there needed to be greater standardization among the multitude of commissioning certifications that have been developed over the past decade. This is so that federal agencies can more objectively determine competency among providers competing for federal work. As Shaun explored in his article, “Making Sense of Commissioning Certifications,” there are about 17 different commissioning certifications out there with varying levels of eligibility requirements, training programs, and continuing education.

NIBS/DOE determined that they should require that all building commissioning professionals wanting to provide services to hold ANSI ISO 17024:2012-accredited certification(s). They chose ANSI because of its highly rigorous criteria and international acceptance. DOE developed voluntary national guidelines, known as the Better Buildings Workforce Guidelines (BBWG), to improve the quality and consistency of commercial building workforce credentials in four energy-related jobs, including Building Commissioning (Cx) Professional. The BBWG established Job Task Analysis (JTA) and certification schemes with learning objectives for training programs.

The caveat? None of the 17 commissioning certifications currently meet all the elements of the JTA and certification schemes or ANSI ISO 17024:2012 standards.

Aligning to the Guidelines

It’s no coincidence that the BCCB started developing their ANSI accreditation submittal two and a half years ago, at the same time NIBS and DOE concluded that ANSI accreditation would be prerequisite for working for the DOE. It has taken time to develop, in part because BCCB and its sister organization the Building Commissioning Association (BCA)—which provides training for the certification program—waited to review the JTA and certification schemes in order to revise their training and certification programs to align with these guidelines. As of February 16th, the BCCB is the first of the certifying entities to submit for accreditation. Rumor has it that the National Environmental Balancing Bureau (NEBB) is getting close to finalizing their ANSI accreditation.

Is it worth it?

Certifications are designed to serve as an endorsement of competence and expertise for the certification holder, helping Owner’s and procurement agents to determine who best to hire for the task at hand. However, as Shaun’s article explored, not all certifications are created equal. There is always the risk that the benefit of certification becomes essentially meaningless if there is no easy way for someone procuring services to determine the validity or rigor of the certification.

With ANSI accreditation being internationally recognized as a high standard for a variety of things, Owner’s gain assurance that an ANSI-accredited commissioning provider really does know what they’re doing. Providers who seek and attain accreditation will have the upper hand on their competitors because of this recognizable endorsement.

The Impact

DOE’s move to require ANSI accredited certification for commissioning providers will really change the game, as federally contracted work is a core focus for many providers. Federal standards can also set the example for state agencies. Even some private entities may take heed from the DOE’s move. Those providers who hold certifications not pursuing ANSI accreditation will find themselves behind the eight ball.


Follow Bruce on Twitter @BPitts_WH

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