A STEP forward for the industry

Briefly last month we told you about the statement made by Telecommunications Industry Association president Grant Seiffert ...

From the March, 2012 Issue of Cabling Installation & Maintenance Magazine

Briefly last month we told you about the statement made by Telecommunications Industry Association president Grant Seiffert, that green buildings shouldn’t be a societal goal but rather, we should strive to achieve a fully sustainable economy.

Seiffert made that statement as part of the TIA’s announcement that it had joined the Sustainable Technology Environments Program (STEP). TIA now is in the company of BICSI as well as the Computing Technology Industry Association (CompTIA) and InfoComm, as organizations that are providing significant support to STEP, including representation on the organization’s board.

Recently I had the opportunity to learn about some of the rationale behind the foundation of STEP as well as the opportunity it represents for professionals in our industry. What you read on this page is my interpretation of current goings-on and does not come from any official statement or position of STEP as an organization.

STEP’s most significant function will be to hoist a building’s technology systems, including but not just its cabling and wireless infrastructure, into the conversation about what makes a building “green” or “sustainable” or whatever term you’d like to use. The founding of STEP became necessary because the United States Green Building Council (USGBC) has not included these technology systems as a meaningful part of its Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) program, even after multiple years of dialogue with technology-related organizations like those leading STEP.

Many design professionals no doubt have lived the frustration of being left out of the LEED conversation. Your architectural/engineering colleagues have made decisions about a building’s heating and cooling systems, its windows, concrete foundation and even the placement of a bike rack, based at least in part on the extent to which such choices would affect the quest for LEED certification. Meanwhile, your efforts to design the most-efficient technology infrastructure possible have been all fine and good, but haven’t contributed a single LEED point. I shudder to wonder if this fact of life has affected the funding of technology systems in new-construction projects.

STEP will not be part of LEED, but rather its own gauge of how “green” a building’s technology systems are. It will stand as a bona fide program to quantify these technology systems in a way that the USGBC would not.

PATRICK McLAUGHLIN
Chief Editor
patrick@pennwell.com
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