Pathways to careers in energy management are as diverse as the people who fulfill the roles. David Brushett shares his 7 essential tips for people aspiring to join the energy management ranks in Nova Scotia. While some of the references are very specific to the market in Nova Scotia, the themes are broadly applicable to any market region. Thanks to David for allowing the AEE Canada East to re-post his article on this blog.
Written by: David Brushett P.Eng, Manager, Energy Management Services, EfficiencyOne
Engineering students and recent graduates often reach out for advice on starting a career in energy management. Energy management is an interesting and rewarding field and I’m always happy to offer my insights. In 2024, one of my goals is to facilitate the entry of young professionals into this sector.
Energy managers are increasingly in demand as energy conservation will continue to be more cost-effective than building new generation facilities. They play a crucial role in enabling organizations to achieve significant energy savings. An adept energy manager can pay for themselves in savings many times over.
Working as an energy manager in Nova Scotia, you’ll join a committed community striving to reduce emissions and transition to a clean energy system. The work is meaningful as it provides a clear and direct societal benefit.
Here are some practical tips for pursuing a career in energy management.
- Understand the Big Trends in Energy and the Local Energy Context in Nova Scotia: Global energy dynamics are undergoing transformative changes, including a pivot towards renewable energy sources, increased electrification, and efforts towards decarbonization. Developments in battery technology, demand response strategies, and the integration of digital technologies and artificial intelligence are also key factors.In Nova Scotia, it’s beneficial to understand the current energy scenario and how these global trends will manifest locally. This knowledge can position you to aid organizations in adapting to and capitalizing on these shifts. Energy Managers play a pivotal role in turning plans into action.To build build comprehensive understanding, it’s recommended to review existing energy plans from various governmental levels. Explore the Government of Nova Scotia Climate Change Plan for Clean Growth and 2030 Clean Power Plan, delve into the HalifACT Plan by Halifax Regional Municipality , and examine Nova Scotia Power‘s Integrated Resource Plan, the long term plan for the electricity grid in NS.Nova Scotia has made major progress over the last 20 years in emissions reductions and the conversion to renewable energy. Still, there is a long way to go as our energy landscape is marked by extensive use of oil heating, relatively high-emissions electricity, and costly natural gas, which is limited in availability outside of the Halifax Regional Municipality. We are fortunate to have EfficiencyOne , an innovative energy efficiency utility recognized for having some of Canada’s most effective energy efficiency programs. We are also lucky to have bipartisan support for climate action which creates long term stability and makes Nova Scotia an excellent place for the clean energy business.
- Actively Network: To be an effective energy manager, it’s not necessary to master every technical detail. What’s important is cultivating relationships with specialists and understanding whom to consult for specific issues. Consider getting involved with local groups such as AEE Canada East, ASHRAE Halifax, EfficiencyOne Efficiency Preferred Partner Network or attend events such as BuildGreen Atlantic or the Solar Nova Scotia Atlantic Canada Solar Summit. I’ve enjoyed having the opportunity this year to meet new immigrants and recent grads who are pursuing energy efficiency careers through my participation in the Halifax Partnership Connector Program. Put yourself out there. Get out of your comfort zone. There are plenty of opportunities to grow your network.
- Seek Out Opportunities to Learn: The energy sector is always evolving the best energy managers are curious and always looking to learn. Check out the courses offered by Canadian Institute for Energy Training (CIET) such as the Certified Energy Manager (CEM) Course and the Certified Measurement and Verification Professional (CMVP) Course. These are great starting points for an aspiring Energy Manager.
- Try out the Software Tools: Enhance your skills in energy management by gaining experience tools such as RETScreen Software and ENERGY STAR Portfolio Manager. RETScreen Expert, created by the Government of Canada, is globally recognized for its ability to help evaluate the feasibility of potential energy efficiency projects. On the other hand, Portfolio Manager, a complimentary and widely-used online tool managed by Natural Resources Canada | Ressources naturelles Canada, assists organizations in monitoring, analyzing, and controlling their energy usage and greenhouse gas emissions.
- Understand Methodology of Energy Management: Overseeing energy management across hundreds of buildings may appear overwhelming at first. You might wonder, where does one even begin? Fortunately, there exists an internationally acclaimed standard, ISO 50001, designed to guide organizations in adopting a structured method for consistent improvement in energy performance. This standard suits organizations of all sizes and sectors, regardless of their energy saving and emission reduction goals. Familiarizing oneself with this standard is beneficial, as it provides a foundational framework for energy management. Even for organizations not seeking ISO 50001 certification, adapting and understanding this framework can bring significant value.
- Develop Communication Skills: As an energy manager, having strong technical knowledge is vital, but it’s equally important to excel in communication, persuasion, and influence within an organization. It’s essential to bridge the gap between departments that often operate in silos, and to align them under a common organizational vision. A key part of this role involves effectively communicating with decision-makers and staff across various positions, ensuring that everyone is on the same page. Celebrating and sharing successes is crucial for maintaining positive momentum. Additionally, the ability to distill complex engineering challenges into understandable, actionable advice is a valuable skill that enhances overall team effectiveness and progress.
- Understand the Financial Aspects Brush up on your engineering economics. Energy managers play a crucial role in calculating the return on investment for projects. This involves analyzing costs, savings, non-energy benefits, payback periods, and the overall financial impact of implementing energy-efficient technologies or practices. Their insights help organizations make informed decisions that align with both their financial goals and sustainability commitments. There are numerous incentives and funding programs available through organizations like EfficiencyOne and others. These programs offer various forms of financial assistance or incentives for projects that aim to improve energy efficiency, reduce carbon emissions, or integrate renewable energy sources.By understanding the intricacies of these funding programs, energy managers can guide organizations in identifying which programs are most beneficial and how to successfully apply for them. This could include grants, tax incentives, or low-interest loans specifically designed to support energy-efficient upgrades or innovations.Conclusion I hope this has provided a starting point for the development of your career in energy management. It’s a great field with many exciting opportunities. Feel free to reach out to me if you have any questions. I often post updates on the NS energy sector as while as job opportunities for Energy Managers.
David Brushett is the Manager for Energy Management Services at EfficiencyOne. In his role. David leads Efficiency Nova Scotia’s fast growing team of about 30 Energy Managers/Engineers that provide Energy Management Services to many of the largest organizations in the Province. Clients include Industrial, Commercial & Institutional Sectors and account for 25% of total non-residential electricity usage in NS.
He previously acted as On-Site Senior Energy Manager for HRM where he is was assisting the municipality to achieve its 2030 Net-Zero Municipal Emissions target under the ambitious HalifACT Climate Change Plan. Prior to that, David was the On-Site Energy Manager for CBRM helping the municipality lower its corporate energy usage by 15% in three years.
David also volunteers with Solar Nova Scotia.