BICSI Pulls Support for STEP — But, Does it Matter?

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logo_StepFoundationLast month, BICSI pulled its support (via a letter, the text of which is below) of the InfoComm STEP program. STEP is an acronym for the Sustainable Technology Environments Program (STEP), a rating system and guide managed by the STEP Foundation, a nonprofit organization comprised of technology trade associations representatives, their members and STEP supporters. At its core, STEP is intended to bring sustainability to the process of planning, designing, integrating and operating technology systems, as well as reduce long-term environmental impact from technology deployment.

STEP was envisioned to encompass all low-voltage building and communication technologies into a phase-by-phase, sustainable deployment process. STEP not only accounts for the ongoing energy consumption of information technology systems but also for the reduction of raw materials in the deployment of information technology solutions and indoor environmental quality of technology-rich environments. STEP also encourages the use of information technologies to make buildings smarter and reduce paper consumption, as well as reduce greenhouse gas emissions associated with travel.

bicsi-0313I spoke to InfoComm’s STEP Foundation director, Allen Weidman, and he told me, “The STEP Foundation remains strong, despite the departure of one of its supporting members. CCCA, COMPTIA, InfoComm and TIA are strongly committed to continuing the mission of the STEP Foundation and advancing the mission of promoting sustainability in the built-environment.

The Foundation is grateful for the valuable contributions made by BICSI in the early years of the organization and we will continue to work with BICSI members and staff to find common points of interest and mutual support to help advance a smart and sustainable Information Communications Technology (ICT) industry.”

And, in reality, with the convergence of AV and IT, the support of COMPTIA is way more important than BICSI. I’d like to have seenBICSI continue to support STEP, but we respect its decision.

Below is the letter that BICSI sent to its members regarding STEP:

Dear BICSI Members,

In November of 2011, BICSI’s Board of Directors voted to become a Sustaining Member of the Sustainable Technologies Environment Program (STEP™) Foundation. At that time BICSI joined InfoComm, CompTIA, and the Telecommunications Industry Association (TIA) as Sustaining Members in STEP. In 2012 the Communications Cable & Connectivity Association (CCCA) also joined STEP as a Supporting Member. Becoming a member of STEP was a continuation of BICSI’s effort to leverage the increasing focus on sustainability that we began with the Green Building Technology Alliance, and had the promise of enabling BICSI to add programs, publications and services to our educational and credentialing portfolio.

The original STEP Foundation concept was a fairly simple one. Its Mission was to bring sustainability to the process of planning, designing, integrating and operating technology systems, as well as to reduce the long-term environmental impact from technology deployment. The fulcrum of STEP would be a STEP sustainability rating system, and STEP membership would require a manageable start-up investment by BICSI.

Over the past months the STEP Board of Directors has been involved in a series of long term strategic planning activities. During this process it has become evident to us that STEP’s direction was changing and the new direction was significantly different from the original STEP concept and not consistent with our BICSI sustainability vision and not in the best interest of our members. Given these differing visions the BICSI Board voted during the Winter Conference to have BICSI withdraw from the STEP Foundation, effective immediately. Our partner associations in STEP have been notified. Although BICSI will no longer be a STEP member, early indications are that BICSI’s withdrawal from STEP will not hurt our relationships with InfoComm, TIA, CompTIA and CCCA, and we intend to continue working with them in the future.

With our STEP withdrawal I have also suspended activity of the STEP Committee until we have a new direction for our sustainability efforts. Brian Hansen and the STEP Committee have worked very hard, and I wanted to express my personal thanks for Brian’s leadership and the exemplary way he has represented BICSI on the STEP Board of Directors.

In the interim I have appointed U.S. Western Region Director Larry Gillen, RCDD, ESS, OSP, CTS, to head up a BICSI Sustainability Task Force, with the mission of exploring options that will enable BICSI to continue to provide industry leadership in the sustainability arena. I will provide updates on these efforts as they emerge.

More as I know it.

BICSI President