8 Facility Management Certification Resources on a Tiny Budget

Aug. 5, 2019
Professional development and continuing education in facility management is crucial to keeping up with industry standards and trends. But what if you do not have room in the budget for trainings and certifications? Janelle Penny shares low-cost and free online resources that provide valuable learning opportunities.

Janelle Penny talks about a topic that every facility manager and property owner can relate to: professional development and education tools at an affordable price.

She shares online resources that offer facilities management certifications, continuing education credits and other online tools that can help you get ahead and stay connected with your industry knowledge. Listen now >>

Like a good transcript? Here you go:

[Start transcript]

Good morning, everybody. This is Janelle Penny, editor-in-chief of Buildings Media. And I’m here with another FM Friday. We’re going live on social media every week to chat with Buildings readers and talk about all things facilities management. So, submit questions or comments during this broadcast or tweet them at us afterward @BuildingsMedia.

So, let’s get started.

This week, I really wanted to talk about something that’s really important to me, and that’s career education.

I’m always looking for ways to upgrade my facilities knowledge because I want to keep bringing you useful coverage that helps you do your jobs.

With that practical and actionable advice that we really try to provide.

And it’s especially important for me, since I’m not working hands-on in the facilities field every day like you are.

But that usually means that I read a lot about a lot of industry developments, watch a lot of webinars on new technology and try to talk to a lot of people in the field.

Well, that can get expensive fast, especially with webinars because, of course, not all of them are free. And if you are trying to earn CEUs at the same time, like I know a lot of you are, it especially adds up.

That’s why this week, I wanted to share some of my favorite free and low-cost resources for maintaining your facilities education, even when you’re on a really tight budget. And some of these I actually use myself.

8 Helpful Facility Managment Online Learning Sites

1. BUILDINGS Education

So, of course, I’ve got to start with Buildings Education, which is our continuing education platform at We have dozens of building-related topics for you.

Just one example out of many, I recently moderated this webinar with a guy named Brant Holeman from RTM Engineering Consultants. And it was a deep dive on variable frequency drives and how they work and how to know whether your building could be a good candidate, what kind of money you can expect to save.

And you can get AIA learning credits or CPD credit from BOMA International for most of those webinars. If you need to find training but can’t afford it, you can actually narrow your search to only the courses with free tuition. So, that can be helpful too.

Again, you can find that at So, just click on Education on that horizontal bar near the top and see what we’ve got to offer. So, those could be a good resource.


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2. BOMA International

And I also like to keep up on what professional organizations are doing because a lot of times they’re representing people in the field or manufacturers in one specific part of the industry. So, a lot of times they’re at the forefront of facilities research.

BOMA International has some great offerings at all kinds of price levels, so you can kind of figure out what you can afford for education every year and what kind of budget you can get for that from your organization, and then kind of go from there.

I’ve got a couple of their webinars on my to-do list right now. But just scrolling through, I can see they’ve got a ton of them on everything from insurance and financial budgeting type stuff to emergency preparedness. And there’s even this one on security that utilizes AI.

Some of them are free, but I’ve seen a bunch of other ones that are less than $100 apiece. So, if you’ve got a little bit of budget but not much, that might be a good resource for you.

And if you’ve got some new people on your staff, BOMA’s also got this new certification called the Certified Manager of Commercial Properties (CMCP). And it’s specially designed for people who are early in their careers. So, they’ve got a two-year or four-year degree or commensurate experience or maybe a mix of both.

And that can be a really great springboard for the newbies on your staff, because it demonstrates that they have the foundational stuff covered.

[On topic: New Property Management Certification]

It can also be useful for you as a more senior person on the staff by showing you this area they might be ready to take on more responsibility, but this other area, you might want to work with them on more training.

And I learned about this at the annual BOMA show last month when it was officially launched. And it’s just a really cool way to make sure that you’re getting your new staff started on the right foot, so you don’t have to go back and find these gaps in knowledge later.


IFMA, speaking of professional organizations, also has this thing called the Knowledge Library. And you can buy different levels of access or you can register for free like I did and just stick to the open access areas. And go in there and check out all kinds of research and industry knowledge.

And just looking at the open access stuff that I can get to, I can see right now there’s a new report on the FM’s role in preventing and responding to violence in the workplace, which unfortunately, is a topic that we all need to be aware of now.

So, the Knowledge Library can be a really worthwhile thing to peruse through as well.

4. US Green Building Council

The US Green Building Council, of course, has a ton of resources for LEED professionals, because they need to maintain their credentials. But you don’t have to be a LEED professional to benefit from those things. They actually have quite a few free courses that qualify for GBCI Continuing Ed hours.

And on their platform, which is called Education@USGBC, you can watch—I think it’s over a dozen—webinars on everything from introductions to the principles of LEED, SITES, the WELL Building Standard.


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There’s even one here on Parksmart, which is a parking development related certification so you can actually certify your parking structures, your garages and verify that they’re being maintained sustainably.

And even if you’re not pursuing these certifications, it can be a really useful way to just manage your facilities better in general. So, you may or may not decide to go for the plaque, but just looking at what the requirements are can kind of help you find opportunities for savings.

5. GSA’s Green Proving Ground

I also really like keeping up on GSA’s Green Proving Ground and their emerging building technologies reports. They do some really important work with measurement and verification for new technologies that haven’t really hit that critical mass in the marketplace yet.

The Proving Ground Program in particular is really interesting because they evaluate all these really cool next generation building technologies on their actual facilities. So, you can see how they performed in different parts of the country because, of course, GSA has buildings everywhere.

They’re the government’s real estate people, so they place them within federal properties. You can learn all about the properties to see how it might apply to your building.

Like, for example, when I’m reading their reports, they’ll profile the buildings a little bit, like one is a federal courthouse with half a million square feet in Phoenix.

[Another FM Friday topic: FM Friday: Innovative Products]

And this other one is a courthouse in, let’s say, Chicago with X amount of square feet. And here’s how this technology performed in them both.

So, you can kind of draw parallels between the different buildings in the report and how certain technologies perform differently in different climates and different average temperatures, how your building lives up to that. And all of those are free.

And they really go into, not surprising, but a really intense amount of detail. And they’ve got quite a few general categories of reports that you can read. So, if you’re looking to upgrade your envelope, they’ve got a bunch of envelope technologies they’ve looked at.

Energy management I know is a big one for just about everybody these days. And they’ve got a lot of energy related technologies that they’ve looked at. Everything from advanced power strips to help with plug loads, which I know are kind of hard to get a hold of, to something that they call “socially driven HVAC,” which is an HVAC system that uses input from occupants in dynamic temperature management.

So, it IMs your employees every hour or whatever it is and asks them, “Are you hot? Are you cold? Are you just right?” And if they’re hot or cold, then they get, I think it’s a 10-minute blast of warm or cold air accordingly.

And just that 10 minutes or so apparently makes a difference in people’s perception of their temperature, even if the HVAC system then reverts right back to the exact same temperature after it’s done.

So, really take a minute if you can on your lunch break or what have you, that’s when I read mine, and check out some of these GSA reports, because it can really be a great way to evaluate some of these new technologies for your building without necessarily being sold to at the same time, which I think is really helpful.

6. is something that I wanted to highlight. That’s created by the Insurance Institute for Business and Home Safety. They have all kinds of—these are a little shorter if you don’t have a lot of time, but still want to keep on top of these things—but they have all kinds of fact sheets and great tips on protecting your business from all kinds of natural disasters.

So, you could learn what to do if a wildfire is approaching if you’re in an area where that’s a big problem, you know, maybe a drought area where there’s not going to be rain any time soon, where that dry environment is going to cause problems. What to do when flooding is eminent.

Some of the things that you can do just to make the recovery easier can be really helpful.

That’s at and I think it’s really worth checking out just to see what you can do now and what you can do to protect your business from even things that may happen in the next season, like frozen pipes. That can get expensive really quickly.

So, check out some of their fact sheets.


NEMA, which is the association of electrical equipment and medical imaging manufacturers, stands for the National Electrical Manufacturers Association.

They’ve got some great standards for evaluating things like solid state lighting retrofit kits, for example, that can be really helpful if you’re looking at maybe taking out some of your old HID area lighting and putting in some LED stuff.

Those are pretty affordable. You can get a download for, I think it’s $39. Some low price like that, but it can be really useful for evaluating products for manufacturers. So, I think that’s definitely worth a look.

8. National Fire Protection Association

And the last one I wanted to highlight is the National Fire Protection Association. NFPA has some really interesting training series that are specifically directed at facilities managers and building owners, so it’s targeted at you.

They just introduced this new one on fire doors, dampers and door locking. It’s a four-module training program, you do it at your own pace. I think it takes about four hours and it is the deepest dive on fire doors that I think you can probably find out there.

All about inspection, testing and maintenance because if there’s one thing that you don’t want to get wrong, it’s fire safety, right? Life and fire safety. That can be really dangerous.

And NFPA 80, which is one of their standards, has all these technical requirements related to how you’re keeping up your fire doors.

And it’s really easy to forget to inspect a door because you’re just walking through it. It doesn’t probably pop out at you with something that you need to keep an eye on. But they really get a lot of wear and tear, and they’re used every day. And occupants are using them all the time when they’re trying to get to your stairwells or a storeroom.

Or a hotel room, for example, is supposed to keep fire from spreading too quickly. And you really, really need to maintain those to make sure that fire and smoke isn’t getting everywhere if you do have an emergency. And make sure that they’re working. But a lot of people don’t realize that the door is such a critical part of that system because when you think of a fire, you think of the sprinkler and the alarm system, right?

So, NFPA has got this new program on training you on how to inspect, test and maintain your fire doors. And they’ve got some other interesting training that you might check out too. So, check out for that.

That’s all for this week. And I’m really looking forward to sharing more stories with you next week and chatting with you again. If there’s a topic you’d like me to cover, tweet me @BuildingsMedia or reach out to me through any of our other channels. And until next week, this is Janelle Penny.

[End transcript]

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About the Author

Janelle Penny | Editor-in-Chief at BUILDINGS

Janelle Penny has more than a decade of experience in journalism, with a special emphasis on covering facilities management. She aims to deliver practical, actionable content for facilities professionals.

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