Energy management overload
Origionally published by Sustainable Industries - http://www.sustainableindustries.com/energy/83254857.html
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From most accounts, investment in energy management services is already creating new jobs. A $2 million energy efficiency construction-related project can create as many as 50 jobs, according to a white paper released by Johnson Controls. And a $10 million EPSCO might account for 95 jobs, according to NAESCO. Finally, energy efficiency programs included in climate change legislation being debated by the Senate could create as many as 20,000 jobs by 2020, according to American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy.
At Lane County Community College in Oregon, Roger Ebbage, director of energy and water programs, is hard at work training this new work force. The school is home to the Northwest Energy Education Institute, which has been training the front-line workers of the energy management services industry since 1980. Enrollment in this once-sleepy program tripled over the last two years to 90 and closed for the 2010-2011 academic year by December, says Ebbage.
The government funding that is currently flowing toward home weatherization for low-income families is creating a demand for a work force that can audit buildings and install the hardware. Money for upgrades to government, commercial and industrial structures also requires people who can interpret the data and interact with the technology that controls building
The first two lessons are ones that Ebbage is able to impart, he says. The last one though, is proving to be harder to pass on to his students.
“The complexity is in how these buildings are controlled,” says Ebbage. New computer-controlled building systems have interfaces that are meant to be user friendly and intuitive, but that doesn’t make it easier for the people who are going to be running them in the future, according to Ebbage. “We have an old guard that doesn’t care how easy it is to interface with these controls,” he says. “They are not interested. And then we have this new group … the problem that we have, they get this computer stuff. What they don’t get is the building systems. They don’t get what it is that they are controlling.”
For all the hurdles and stumbling blocks that exist in the energy management industry, leaders of the sector say that achieving its goals is possible. It’s going to take continual leadership from large energy users, including government, commercial and industrial building owners. And it’s going to take some changes to both how people use energy and how codes and energy policies are updated—and how they are enforced.
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