SMART and NEMI applaud the Biden administration for its commitment to improving building energy efficiency. This commitment will help cut building energy costs, benefit our environment and create jobs for the skilled and certified SMART sheet metal workers who can get the job done. Energy efficiency and indoor air quality (IAQ) goals will only be achieved if heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC) units function as designed. And verifying that these systems operate as intended can only be assured if they are installed, tested and maintained by skilled, trained, and certified professionals and technicians. To help meet the U.S. Department of Energy’s new standards, we are committed to the following:

SMART is committed to increasing awareness of how improper installation and maintenance can affect occupant health and performance, reduce indoor air quality and increase costly energy consumption by facilities throughout the United States.

NEMI is committed to creating and maintaining the highest quality training and associated ANSI National Accreditation Board (ANAB) accredited ISO/IEC 17024 personnel certifications for the HVAC industry, to ensure the training and certifications remain relevant and meet the needs of the Biden administration now and in the future.

SMART and NEMI will work together to reevaluate and modernize the certifications needed to meet this building definition. This includes the International Training Institute (ITI) and International Certification Board (ICB) certifications that promote healthy and energy efficient buildings, such as Building Envelope Installer, Duct Air Leakage Testing, Fume Hood Performance Testing, Indoor Air Quality – Ventilation Verification, TAB Technician and Supervisor, TABB Commissioning, TABB Sound and Vibration, and Total Building Energy Auditing.

Across North America, various sheet metal funds including the National Energy Management Institute (NEMI), the International Training Institute (ITI) and the Sheet Metal Occupational Health Institute Trust (SMOHIT) work to expand opportunity and wellbeing in the unionized sheet metal trade. Read about recent appointees below:

New NEMI field representative tapped for Good Jobs, Great Cities Academy

Josh Hunter, former SMART Local 48 (Birmingham, Ala.) Business manager and new NEMI Southeast field representative, was selected earlier this year by the city of Birmingham Department of Innovation and Economic Opportunity to serve as a member of the Good Jobs, Great Cities Academy: a partnership between the National League of Cities (NLC) and the United States Department of Labor (DOL). The academy was established to develop innovative and scalable solutions to address pressing workforce challenges and is funded by investments from recently passed federal laws: the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, the CHIPS and Science Act and the Inflation Reduction Act.

Birmingham was one of 16 cities chosen to participate in the academy. The group began meeting in May and will continue through July 2024 to develop solutions that focus on upskilling and reskilling workers and preparing underrepresented workers for quality, high-growth, in-demand occupations.

Working with labor leaders, industry partners and government representatives, the members of the Birmingham Good Jobs, Great Cities Academy specifically focus on infrastructure, clean energy and advanced manufacturing jobs, with an emphasis on barrier elimination, particularly as it relates to childcare and the care economy, Hunter said.

“I’m excited about this opportunity,” he added. “The work that we will be doing over the next year falls in line with the mission and goals our union has prioritized. We will look to create real solutions that will help our local recruit and retain members of the community, including those who are often underrepresented.”

Hunter hopes to create new marketing strategies and solutions, and he expects to work closely with the NEMI team to craft ideas that will assist his work group in completing its mission.

“NEMI has always been a resource we have relied on to help us move our local forward,” Hunter said. “I will absolutely rely on their expertise as a sounding board as we brainstorm solutions.”

Partnerships such as the academy are opportunities to get involved in the community, establish tangible relationships and build pipelines to recruit new members and promote the trade. Anything Hunter and Local 48 accomplish in Birmingham can be shared with other locals, too, added Lisa Davis, NEMI administrator.

“Local 48 has an incredible opportunity here, with Josh serving on the academy, to create real solutions that will benefit the entire community of Birmingham,” Davis said. “NEMI is proud to support his efforts in any way we can.”

Pittsburgh native lands leadership role at ITI

The ITI has named Len Liebert as program administrator, a position he accepted in September 2023. In his new role, Liebert oversees ITI classes and programs, working with teams on scheduling, planning and communication, as well as managing administrative staff and budget.

Len Liebert

Liebert has a history of mentoring apprentices and journeypersons. A longtime member of SMART Local 12 in Western Pennsylvania, Liebert joined the apprenticeship to become a second-generation sheet metal worker in 1989, shortly after graduating from Pennsylvania State University with a bachelor’s degree in secondary education. He then served as field foreman and in-house testing, adjusting and balancing (TAB) technician for Ruthrauff Service in Pittsburgh while working as a part-time instructor at his home local.

In 2001, Liebert took on teaching full time, and in 2014 he became the assistant training coordinator at Local 12. After around 20 years in service as a consultant for the ITI on instructor development, lesson packages, classroom management and educational psychology, Liebert was officially hired by the ITI as a field staff representative in 2017. He went on to become a certified Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) master trainer and a subject matter expert in infection control.

“Thirty-three years in this business has taught me to trust the people I have worked closely with,” Liebert said. “We have a great team here at the ITI, and I look forward to continued success with all our coordinators, instructors and members.”

Ed Robison aims to support members nationwide at SMOHIT

Ed Robison began his new job as field representative with SMOHIT — the health and safety arm of the unionized sheet metal industry — last summer, where his top priority is to educate members in their local unions about the resources SMOHIT offers.

Ed Robison

After entering the Local 218 (Springfield, Ill.) Apprenticeship in 1991, Robison completed the five-year program and steadily rose through the ranks to become an organizer and then, in 2014, the business manager. He lives in Springfield and continues to be a member of Local 218, where Carter Robison, the youngest of his three sons, is currently a second-year apprentice.

In his new position, Robison helps union members across the country by connecting them with local resources and familiarizing them with the SMART MAP (Member Assistance Program). Robison noted that it’s especially important to reach out to sheet metal workers who have traveled to work at large projects. These men and women are putting in long hours while living far from home, and those needing mental health support may not know where to turn.

“SMOHIT has increased staff size and vision, and it’s changing a lot,” he said. “I’m really excited for what lies ahead. This is going to be a whole new fund.”

John Wilson takes national role in sheet metal education

Longtime sheet metal worker John Wilson has been chosen as a field representative by the ITI. In this role, he will provide support for training programs and their directors, create and assist in the implementation of curriculum and training, and serve as a resource/liaison between the ITI and training facilities across the country.

John Wilson

Wilson began his career in the sheet metal industry shortly after he graduated high school in 2005. He completed the apprenticeship program with SMART Local 100, working mainly in the Washington, DC, area. From the moment he graduated from the apprenticeship, Wilson set his sights higher — first as a foreperson; then as general funds trustee, executive board member and part-time instructor; and finally, as an assistant training coordinator and recording secretary for Local 100. During his career, he worked for W.E. Bowers and Southland Industries.

Wilson is continuing his education at the Community College of Baltimore County, pursuing a degree in construction craft professionalism, in addition to industry training and certifications. Currently, he maintains multiple certifications in Occupational Safety and Health for the Construction Industry, fire life safety, duct air leakage, building envelope installer, ventilation verification and testing, adjusting and balancing, to name a few. He currently lives in Delta, Pennsylvania, just over the Maryland/Pennsylvania border.

Jeff Bradley named SMOHIT program director

Jeff Bradley, who joined SMOHIT in spring 2023 as a field representative, was promoted to program director in the fall, as his position underwent a “natural evolution:” moving into tasks such as scheduling and planning conferences and programs, reviewing contracts and overseeing the new version of health screenings, among others.

“The shift in responsibilities came organically as I stepped in to help with SMOHIT operations,” Bradley said. “Between revitalizing the health screenings in a different way that will reach even more members to scheduling SMART MAP sessions in Canada, it’s been busy, but I feel like I’m truly bringing benefits to members that could change their lives.”

Bradley entered his sheet metal apprenticeship in 2004 at Local 36 in St. Louis, where he currently resides with his wife and the youngest of his three children. Throughout his career, he has worked as a part- and full-time instructor and welding facility representative, as well as serving Local 36 as an organizer, vice president and director of marketing. He earned his associate degree in heating, ventilation, air conditioning and refrigeration (HVAC-R) from Vatterott College, and he holds multiple certifications and training completion certificates.

In 2023, Local 19 worked with the National Energy Management Institute (NEMI) and pro-union politicians in New Jersey to help pass fire life safety legislation — helping keep citizens safe and creating more work for SMART members in the Garden State.

The process began in January, when then Assistant Business Manager Bryan Bush, Assistant Business Manager Luke Gordon and Political Director Todd Farally approached Assemblyman Anthony Verrelli and Senator Nilsa Cruz- Perez about running a bill that would ensure the state of New Jersey would follow the National Fire Protection Association Code (NFPA), along with the International Fire Code (IFC). Both mandate inspections of fire, smoke, combination fire/smoke dampers and smoke control systems, which include but are not limited to smoke evacuation systems and stairwell pressurization. In addition, any deficient dampers or smoke control systems would need to be repaired in a timely manner after inspection.

Early on, Local 19’s team consulted with Jeremy Zeedyk, the Northeast representative for NEMI. Zeedyk helped to get the ball rolling on crafting the legislation and ensuring that all the technical information, including the necessary certifications, were specified within the language of the bill. After several rough drafts, Local 19 had solid language and talking points to bring to Trenton.

Fire life safety is just one example of the job-creating lawmaking opportunities available to local unions. NEMI encourages all locals to reach out for assistance identifying and drafting legislation.

“By early March, companion bills were introduced in the Assembly and the state Senate, and both bills passed unanimously out of two committees in each chamber over the next couple months,” said Farally. “The Assembly fully passed their version in May, and the Senate moved to pass the legislation in mid- June. Oftentimes we see votes in government fall along stark political lines, but these bills left both the Assembly and Senate unanimously and were headed to Governor Murphy’s desk.”

That’s when the process hit a momentary hitch. After the bills had passed both chambers in Trenton, sponsors of the legislation began to receive questions and calls for concern from the New Jersey Department of Community Affairs (DCA) and the Fire Service, which falls within the DCA. Assemblyman Verrelli’s office reached out to Local 19, laying out the concerns and where they were coming from.

“At this point, we reengaged Jeremy Zeedyk to look over the concerns the Fire Service had and then proceeded to set up a meeting between Local 19, the DCA, the Fire Service, NEMI and Assemblyman Verrelli,” explained Farally. “We were able to hear and address many of their concerns, and Local 19 shared our concerns with some of the proposed changes from the DCA.”

After a few months of drafting and redrafting language, in mid- November all parties agreed to some changes within the bill that give the state some flexibility while still upholding important standards which must be enforced. At this point, the bill was labeled as conditionally vetoed, which meant the governor’s office had changed some elements of the bill and it would be sent back to both legislative chambers for a vote to concur with those amendments.

In early December of 2023, the New Jersey Senate and Assembly both unanimously concurred with the changes, and fire life safety is now the law statewide — showing how important it is for SMART to be involved in the political process, and the vital role pro-union legislators play.

“There are still some steps to go through at this point under the regulatory process before everything is implemented, but rest assured — Local 19 will be there every step of the way to ensure the regulations are applied correctly and fairly to all,” Farally concluded.

Fire life safety is just one example of the job-creating lawmaking opportunities available to local unions. NEMI encourages all locals to reach out for assistance identifying and drafting legislation.

Preparing for the future of work isn’t new to SMART Local 33 in Cleveland. During the recession, contractors learned how HVAC Fire Life Safety skills could keep workers on the job while providing valuable services to commercial buildings in the area. With the pandemic in the rearview mirror, Local 33 hosted the National Energy Management Institute (NEMI) during a Ventilation Verification/Indoor Air Quality Awareness course on March 15.

The idea was to let contractors know they already have the skills to test the health of buildings in their area. It’s all about perspective.

With all the federal funding available — not just for schools, but for commercial and residential buildings too — Corey Beaubien, president and business manager of Local 33, and Lisa Davis, NEMI administrator, thought it was an opportune time to show the local’s sheet metal contractors that the work scope for Ventilation Verification/Indoor Air Quality isn’t just for TAB contractors.

“It’s a great way for people to continue their connection with their customers after the building is built by maintaining their contact through ongoing Ventilation Verification/Indoor Air Quality audits and monitoring,” Davis said. “In this way, the building owners not only get continuing increased indoor air quality throughout the life of the building, but the contractors are there to provide other services as well when other needs come up.”

NEMI, ITI and SMART contributed to the one-day course, which presented the scope of Ventilation Verification/Indoor Air Quality, challenged attendees to a hands-on portion and educated them on grant and funding opportunities as well as training and certification resources.

In addition to finding ways to keep workers on the job — just as educating contractors on fire life safety did in the 2010s — Ventilation Verification/Indoor Air Quality also opens doors for state and federal grants that fund renovations of a building’s HVAC system, Beaubien said.

“The class has generated interest. They had a better overall understanding about how it works, and that’s the beginning,” he added. “The class was meant to get the ball rolling.”

The skills needed to complete Ventilation Verification/Indoor Air Quality are typically taught during apprenticeship, and it doesn’t take TAB expertise to complete, which came as a surprise to some in attendance. Like fire life safety, this course showed contractors a different perspective — it’s a chance to get more work, but it’s also an opportunity to teach building owners of assisted living facilities, government and commercial buildings how to keep their buildings healthy and safe for their occupants, Beaubien said.

“Fire life safety was a big success. It was an idea to generate work opportunities but also to save lives,” he added. “This is another opportunity to educate contractors and the end users about what is going on above their ceilings.”

Davis added: “We are looking forward to assisting contractors and Local 33 with implementation of Ventilation Verification/Indoor Air Quality in their area, whether that looks like assisting them in helping their customers apply for grants or going after code or specification changes that would include a skilled, trained, certified workforce.”

The National Energy Management Institute (NEMI) announced the appointment of Cassandra Kline as the director of certification for the International Certification Board (ICB), effective October 16, 2023. Kline brings a wealth of knowledge and commitment to this role, having served as NEMI director of construction technology. She also assisted with ANAB/ANSI (ANSI National Accreditation Board/American National Standards Institute) duties.

“We trust her dedication to excellence, leadership skills, and deep understanding of our organization make her the perfect candidate to lead our certification program into the future,” said NEMI Administrator Lisa Davis. “We are excited to see her bring the same level of dedication to her new role.” 

The White House released a back-to-school fact sheet ahead of the new school year, highlighting SMART, SMACNA and NEMI’s collaboration with the White House on improving ventilation in schools. This fact sheet was circulated to school districts across the country and notes that SMART, SMACNA and NEMI are the experts that schools should use for indoor air quality, HVAC, ventilation and energy efficiency improvements and upgrades.

In conjunction, NEMI launched a new website that can facilitate connecting buildings that want to make ventilation and energy efficiency improvements to skilled, trained and certified workers and contractors — SMART and SMACNA members. Ideally this will be a useful resource for schools and other buildings as they try to take advantage of federal funding available for these efforts. If a building owner fills out a form on the NEMI website and requests assistance, they will receive a response within 48 hours to help them identify steps they can take to improve ventilation in their buildings.

SMART hopes these resources will help building owners and/or state and local elected officials access billions of dollars in federal funding approved by the Biden administration to improve ventilation and energy efficiency of buildings.

As General President Sellers announced, years of hard work and sacrifices made by National Pension Fund participants, locals and employers have paid off.

In addition to this, the Biden Administration announced the Clean Air in Buildings Challenge in late March. This challenge is a call to action and a set of best practices to assist building owners with reducing risks from airborne viruses and other contaminants.

The Clean Air in Buildings Challenge relies on significant input from SMART and our experts at the National Energy Management Institute (NEMI), who assisted in devising its goals and objectives.

The challenge includes the creation of a clean indoor air action plan, practices for optimizing fresh air ventilation, the enhancement of air filtration and cleaning, and community engagement around the importance of enhanced air ventilation to ensure this issue — and its solution — is prioritized by leaders in the public and private sectors. This ensures the expanded contribution of our signatory contractors employing SMART sheet metal workers to lead this challenge.

As the Biden Administration rolls out the historic bipartisan infrastructure bill, modernizing the prevailing wages attached to these projects will ensure fair wages and protect workers employed in the sheet metal industry.

In early March, the U.S. Department of Labor announced that it was updating its Davis-Bacon rules, which affect members employed in the construction industry — especially those working for employers who compete on publicly funded projects. This is the first time in 40 years the Department of Labor has performed a comprehensive review of these regulations, and it couldn’t come at a better time. As the Biden Administration rolls out the historic bipartisan infrastructure bill, modernizing the prevailing wages attached to these projects will ensure fair wages and protect workers employed in the sheet metal industry. Structural changes to the administration of these new projects are what will make the difference in guaranteeing that not only are they built on time and under budget, but also that unscrupulous employers do not undermine the wages and standards SMART and our signatory employers have spent decades creating.

As you will find within this issue of the Members’ Journal, SMART has also updated our union’s website at The website is all-inclusive and interactive, with landing pages for content and material found nowhere else online — such as an updated Resources section for sheet metal workers, TD material and forms, Canadian resources, an easier-to-use Sheet Metal Job Bank, membership information only available to you, links to fund material, dozens of resource libraries and more. Member information is accessed via a Member Portal and customized to each individual member’s needs and experience. Visit the website at and click on the Member Portal to create an account. Instructions for SM and TD members are linked through the QR Code below.

Brothers and sisters, we live in exciting times — we are taking advantage of new technologies to update our services to you. Make sure you continue to revisit the Member Portal, as we will update information there with breaking news and the latest resources.


Joseph Powell
SMART General Secretary Treasurer