On Sunday, October 11th, I read an article in the New York Times titled City Aims to Reduce Carbon Output by Buildings stating that New York City is going to require energy audits on all existing buildings. New York is setting its own guidelines for the reduction of carbon dioxide production based upon the usage of electricity in the city, which is a tremendous undertaking. But the first step towards measuring energy efficiency improvements is to get a baseline and then track going forward. This will require qualified auditors to conduct these audits on the existing inventory of buildings.
This got me thinking about the increasing need for qualified energy auditors. For two years, I have been getting calls from people to conduct energy audits on their buildings. In the construction industry, there are HERS raters (Home Energy Rating Service) who use a program called REM Software that features two evaluation programs REM/Design and REM/Rate. This program enables you to upload your building design and location and run a simulation based on local utility rates. It can tell you month by month what your energy bills should be for heating and air conditioning. This helps quality homes for Energy Star tax credits.
In doing a quick search, I discovered there is a huge need across the country for trained energy auditors. There is a website, energyauditorjobs.com that lists all the available jobs nationwide.
There are three skill sets needed to be an Energy Auditor:
- You need to understand how buildings are built and operate
- You need to understand the science of buildings
- You need to have knowledge of the softwares.
Some of the entities that will be looking for energy auditors are:
Weatherization Programs produced from the stimulus. We are currently training quasi-energy auditors in weatherization programs, like the Pennsylvania Housing Resource Center at Penn State University program. They are trained in the Building Science part but not in the audit software or simulations.
Municipalities and state departments of energy, like NYC, will need thousands of energy auditors to test all the buildings in their cities and towns.
Real estate investment portfolios, utility companies, hotel and resort operators, manufacturers, especially large manufacturers, will need to conduct audits on their plants and buildings. CertainTeed is currently conducting audits on all our plants and buildings due to our own corporate mandates.
Building management companies could find this as a differentiator in the marketplace if they can offer building owners the expertise to evaluate and control the energy costs for the buildings they manage.
This need for energy auditors is only going to mushroom and get bigger over time. This is one of the green jobs that the green evolution has promised us. This is a new workforce that will be needed to meet the demands of the marketplace.
From my position, having done this type of work for 25 years, I see this as a coming together of social and economic forces overlapping at one place – the energy auditor. As we continue to teach Building Science in our colleges and universities, we will need to incorporate this training as well.
This is a perfect career path for young people or for construction professionals who might be looking for a new opportunity. And it is just the beginning as we embrace the concepts of energy efficiency and require the upgrading of our building inventory.
Lucas Hamilton is Manager, Building Science Applications at CertainTeed Corporation.