Operator and Occupant Training

New Commercial

What is Operator and Occupant Training?

Operator and occupant training provides those who occupy and maintain a building with the tools and strategies to optimize the efficiency of the building’s systems and protect the health and comfort for the building’s occupants. Green buildings require an ongoing commitment by the building owner, facilities operators and building occupants to implement the intended sustainable performance goals. Effective, sustainable operations and maintenance (O&M) strategies are the key to achieving long-term goals of economy, energy efficiency, resource conservation, and pollution prevention while meeting the comfort, health, and safety requirements of a facility.

How to Implement Operator and Occupant Training

Effective O&M strategies for high-performance buildings: [1]

  • Integrate indoor environmental quality, energy efficiency, waste management, and water conservation into standard policies, procedures, and practices of the building’s property management and its contracts with maintenance companies and vendors
  • Provide regular professional development and training for O&M staff as often as necessary to account for personnel turnover
  • Establish a facility-wide “green team” to evaluate and improve on O&M practices and get feedback from O&M staff and building occupants on their experiences with using green products and adjust products or practices as necessary
  • Include the preparation and upkeep of procedures, manuals, charts, and checklists
  • Ensure that occupants understand policy and procedures, including trash and recycling guidelines, and provide opportunities for communication about maintenance needs, repairs, and indoor air quality issues

It is also important to have personnel trained in understanding product labels and Material Safety Data Sheets (MSDS) for information on product safety and toxicity.[2][3]


Princeton Office of Sustainability – Staff Ambassadors, Princeton University, Princeton, NJ.

The Princeton Sustainability Ambassadors program works with staff from a variety of campus departments, who participate in a one-year training program and as serve as sustainability ambassadors engaging their co-workers, offices, and groups in informational campaigns and activities that support campus sustainability goals as well as sustainability practices at work and at home.


Training for building operators and occupants and implementing sound O&M practices helps to meet sustainable performance targets over the life of the building such as:[4]

  • Scheduling of preventative service and maintenance that extend the life of equipment and building materials and reduce costs
  • Conserving energy and water by optimizing the performance of building systems
  • Reducing the use of toxics and minimizing solid and hazardous waste generation
  • Providing a high-quality indoor environment
  • Reducing absenteeism and worker’s compensation claims
  • Reducing occupant complaints
  • Maintaining landscaping and grounds with minimum use of water and chemicals (see Native and Adapted Plants and Integrated Pest Management)


Providing training for building operators and occupants helps reduce costs through extending the life of equipment and materials, optimizing the performance of systems, and maximizing the use of local resources. The costs associated with training for building operators and occupants vary according to the type of training and type of facility. Coursework for Building Operator Certification, for example, costs between $500 and $1,500 for multi-day programs.[5] Check training resources, such as the visit National Sustainable Structures Center (NSSC) at Pennsylvania College of Technology or the New Jersey Clean Energy Learning Center to learn more about training in your area.


Operator and occupant training contributes to a building’s resiliency by ensuring that a building performs optimally during both normal operations and emergencies. Conducting emergency drills and training building staff and occupants for common emergencies and disasters helps to avoid or mitigate potential impacts and to support recovery efforts (see Storm Preparation and Emergency Planning). Prepared individuals and businesses can react quickly and safely to situations, reduce stress on local emergency responders and resources, and support local community outreach.

[1]Whole Building Design Guide. Sustainable Operations and Maintenance. http://www.wbdg.org/resources/sustainableom.php (accessed April 1, 2019).

[2] MSDS Solutions Center.  http://www.msds.com/ (accessed April 1, 2019).

[3] National Safety Compliance.  ANSI Material Safety Data Sheets.  http://www.osha-safety-training.net/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&catid=11:osha-training-videos&id=96:ansi-material-safety-data-sheet-training-video (accessed April 1, 2019).

[4] Whole Building Design Guide. http://www.wbdg.org/resources/sustainableom.php (accessed April 1, 2019).

[5] Building Operator Certification, National Sustainable Structures Center (NSSC) at the Pennsylvania College of Technology. Current Course Offerings and Pricing. https://www.pct.edu/business/national-sustainable-structures-center/building-operator-certification (accessed April 1, 2019).