So, you want to be an Energy Manager?

As our understanding of building systems adapts to the brave new world of Energy Management, it is essential that students keep up with current trends in how we manage our built environment.  That being said, it was our great honour to host Scott Rouse of Energy@Work for our very first event of 2014.  Not only was he an incredibly dynamic and engaging speaker, but he also had very practical advice for those of us looking to energy the field of Energy Management.

Energy Management is the practice of lowering energy costs by reducing consumption through careful evaluation of energy usage.  Energy Management strategies can help companies financially by reducing utility consumption, can reduce emissions with greater efficiency and can help companies to be more socially responsible.


Step 1: The Right Stuff

To get where he is today, Scott built on an extensive background of qualifications to create his skill set as the lead of Energy@Work. He is a Professional Engineer, Certified Energy Manager and Sustainability Development Professional, to list just a few of his qualifications. All the letters after his name indicate the importance of ongoing education within this dynamic field.  Whether you have an advanced diploma, an engineering degree or experience in a related field, it’s always important to maintain credentials and pursue greater knowledge.

As students, more education isn’t always our concern.  Often, what counts the most is experience.    Luckily, the scope of energy management is such that work with utilities, companies or consultants are all potential avenues for success.

Step 2: Know Thy Industry

This is of course true to be successful no matter what type of employment you’re in, but it is essential in the green sector as emerging technologies drive rapid change. Scott discussed a number of trends that he summed up with 5 key words:

Transformation – use lots of different metrics for optimal performance!

Transparency – changes made to the building should be made apparent to the tenants

Context – make your changes effective to maximize the investment

Timelines – keep your measurement dynamic

Experimentation – keep up-to-date with technologies and implementation and don’t be afraid to try new things!

Using benchmarking, real-time monitoring and a focus on safety and tenant comfort, Energy@Work has become a great success. Since 2007, they’ve helped to save over $700k in energy and achieved emissions reductions by 240,000 kg CO2e/year.  Those are some pretty impressive statistics!  Those of us interested in energy management can hope to be a part of making positive changes like these within our own careers.

At present, job prospects appear to be pretty good.  With the right training, we can be poised to meet the demands of property managers as utility prices continue to rise and legislation emphasizes demand-side management.


Step 3: Maximize Your Skills

In addition to the key skills of leadership, finances, communication and technical ability, Scott was kind enough to point out some advice that’s especially helpful for new grads:

  • Listen!  Take the time to learn from the expertise of co-workers
  • Network
    • Membership in organizations such as ASHRAE
    • Attend trade shows and conferences
    • Network with whoever you can!
    • Keep yourself aware of trends in the industry, news and politics

TTC Gunn Building Technical Tour – Nov. 27, 2013

On November 26th a group of ASHRAE students were given the opportunity to tour the mechanical systems behind the Toronto Transit Control Centre. This tour was held at the David L. Gunn Building in the Hillcrest Complex given by Claudio Bertoldi, a veteran in HVAC systems for TTC facilities.

Part of Claudio’s responsibility is monitoring and controlling the settings of each facilities system. A building automatic program allows him to see schematics of the inner workings of each mechanical system and it will alert him with any malfunctions. Through this program he is easily able to identify and compare which parts are efficient. For instance, Claudio quickly recognized that “efficient” automatic air duct fans which turn on/off depending on demand broke down often, and tended to have trouble turning on/off at the right times. With Toronto transit replying on its facilities to be working these small failures can have a large impact.

Pic 1

Above – UPS batter back-up

After seeing the schematics of the TTC facilities we were given a walking tour of the building. The building is equipped with an emergency power supply that will immediately start with any outage. It is capable of uninterrupted power through a battery bank and a diesel generator back up. The server room was massive with cables running everywhere, and it required dedicated chillers and an under floor supply plenum. This one building had two air handlers, one on each level. The boiler room was decorated with colour coded water pipes; purple for domestic hot water. This building is also responsible for carrying the emergency power back up for other TTC facilities.

 Pic 2

Above – Server room under-floor supply plenum

The most interesting part of the tour was seeing the Transit Control Centre which has a panel of enormous screens lined up along an entire wall, displaying live footage of subway carts, surveillance videos, maintenance at a station and so much more. Directly in front of these screens are the many men and women that are continuously working to keep the city’s transit system moving. In order them to be able to do their work all mechanical systems in the building must be fully functional.

Special thanks to Claudio Bertoldi and the TTC for the wonderful tour!

Pic 3

Group photo with the old Transit Control board