The University of California, Davis Western Cooling Efficiency Center (WCEC) recently released a technical report, “Testing, Adjusting and Balancing HVAC Systems: An Overview of Certification Agencies,” which examines the benefits of using certified contractors for testing, adjusting and balancing (TAB).
The WCEC report also identifies the three certifying agencies — Testing, Adjusting and Balancing Bureau (TABB); National Environmental Balancing Bureau (NEBB); and Associated Air Balance Council (AABC), and the differences between them.
TABB, a function of the National Energy Management Institute Committee (NEMIC) and the certification body for the unionized sheet metal industry, is the first of its kind to gain the American National Standards Institute (ANSI) accreditation for certification in the TAB industry.
In the report, the WCEC examines the question: “Why certify?” For unionized sheet metal workers, the answer is simple: there is a need for highly skilled technicians. As the WCEC points out, the complexity of HVAC systems, such as electronic controls, variable speed devices, and/or economizers, has resulted in a need for a standard in training across the industry. In response to that need, associations have developed certifications to serve as verification that technicians and supervisors have the knowledge and experience needed to complete the job tasks.
The American Society of Heating, Refrigerating and Air-Conditioning Engineers (ASHRAE) Standard 90.1, “Energy Standard for Buildings Except Low-Rise Residential Buildings,” sets a caliber for commissioning buildings and includes TAB requirements. While those requirements are not mandatory, many states, cities and localities do follow 90.1 to varying degrees.
According to the WCEC, “In the future, TAB certifications are expected to become even more valuable. As building control systems become more complex, and new energy-efficient equipment becomes standard, technicians will need more in-depth knowledge to balance HVAC systems. Additionally, local building codes are expected to evolve and become stricter as states move toward more ambitious energy efficiency goals. Building managers can stay ahead of the curve by making sure their TAB contractors are well qualified.”
ICB/TABB is one way NEMIC identifies and develops market and educational opportunities for members of the Sheet Metal and Air Conditioning Contractors’ National Association (SMACNA) and SMART, the International Association of Sheet Metal Air, Rail and Transportation Workers.