A Journey of Learning and Leadership: My Experience on the BCA Board of Directors

by Jeff Yirak, P.E., CPMP, LEED AP BC+C, O+M

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

The Building Commissioning Association (BCA) is the premier commissioning organization in this country, and it is expanding internationally. Our mission “is to guide the building commissioning industry by advancing best practices and education throughout the building industry, and promoting the benefits of building commissioning to achieve buildings that work.” We have been successfully making progress toward this goal with energy code adoption of commissioning, our benchmark publications, and working with our sister organization, the Building Commissioning Certification Board (BCCB), in creating the highest-caliber commissioning provider credential in the industry, the Certified Commissioning Provider (CCP).

At the local level, we provide educational opportunities and in-person chapter meetings throughout our membership region at least once per quarter. I’ve been lucky enough to be a part of the Northwest chapter of the BCA since 2008, and I have served on the chapter Board of Directors (BOD) as treasurer, president, and now vice president. I’ve gained valuable experience and perspective serving on the BOD, about being a leader, setting and achieving goals, and developing ways to make BCA an attractive and valuable experience to current and prospective members.

Lessons Learned and Valuable Takeaways

Promise of Peer-to-Peer Connectivity:

One of the most promising ways BCA can contribute to the industry is collaboration and cross-pollination within our professional community. Commissioning is fundamentally an integrative service; to perform our work, we must work well with everyone on the team—owners, operators, architects, engineers, contractors, you name it. There are plenty of occasions where our members can attend other organization events, such as the American Institute of Architects (AIA), ASHRAE, the American Society of Plumbing Engineers (ASPE), and more. Outreach to these types of organizations to invite them to our events will encourage just this type of relationship-building. In like manner, our members can benefit from other societies’ programs and networks and interact with their membership. Increasing our visibility and cross-pollinating with other groups will improve our on-the-job collaboration by increasing everyone’s understanding of everyone else’s roles and objectives.

Power of Advocacy:

BCA did great work gathering comments and supporting the energy code update in Washington State. We presented proposed revisions at our chapter meetings and gathered membership feedback. We even included a provision that requires commissioning providers to hold an ANSI ISO 17024:2012-accredited certification. Our intent was (and continues to be) to strengthen the requirements of commissioning to ensure all projects receive quality commissioning, which benefits project owners as well as commissioning providers. The way we’re doing this provides a viable model for future efforts.

Membership Diversity:

With the needs of the profession evolving and the demographics of the up and coming generation of professionals changing, we need to make ourselves relevant in new ways. Our chapter membership is predominantly made up of commissioning providers, but commissioning benefits the entire project, so why aren’t more owners, architects, engineers, and contractors members? We need to find out what would be interesting and meaningful to them. Our membership should have a broad base, no question. Cross-industry pollination gives us a chance to have some background on the people we may eventually work with. We can build trust, understanding, and find mutual benefit before we’re under contract and under the gun to work together.

My dream is that building owners and developers will be able to meet providers in a comfortable setting without the pressure of a request for proposal solicitation and response. Architects will have a chance to get to know the commissioning providers that may end up on the project team they’re managing. BCA educational programming often also has AIA learning units attached; that’s a tangible membership benefit for those with continuing education requirements. Like my Wood Harbinger colleague Nick Baker wrote in a recent newsletter article, engineers can benefit from the “war stories” and lessons learned from the field that commissioning providers can tell in spades. Being an engineer as well, I know that we like to have as much information as possible when designing systems and specifying equipment; partnering with a commissioning provider gives an engineer that much more information and experience to draw upon.

Member-Benefit Driven:

The most important thing I’ve learned from my time in the BCA is that we need to be obsessive about what matters to the membership and delivering true value in that realm. We need to make BCA membership “fun” and meaningful for people who join us in the local chapter. I’m not talking about clowns and cotton candy, but we need to attract people and inspire them to want to join in what we’re doing. I may not be able to explain how magnets work, but I’m grateful for the benefit I’ve received through leadership opportunities at BCA and passionate about doing everything in my power to kindle the kind of magnetism that will draw others to the organization.


Follow Jeff on Twitter @JYirak_WH

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