A range of skills are required to implement effective energy-efficiency strategies and practices. These skills generally cannot be found in one person, which means a team-based approach is essential.
Functional skills for energy efficiency assessment
Functional skills in the energy-efficiency assessment context are the practical skills needed in a range of discipline areas that allow individuals and teams to confidently and effectively complete energy efficiency assessments.
Research on companies participating in the Energy Efficiency Opportunities program (now closed) found that 33 functional skills were used in conducting energy-efficiency assessments in large energy-using companies.
These 33 skills can be grouped in the following broad categories:
Project planning and management. The ability to direct and guide a group in completing tasks and attaining goals of energy efficiency assessment.
Communication planning and implementation. The ability to exchange, engage, convey and express knowledge and ideas in an energy efficiency context.
Understanding energy use. The ability to arrange and retrieve data, knowledge and ideas, research and investigation of specific technical and financial knowledge.
Identification of potential opportunities. The abilities to think logically and creatively.
Decision-making. The ability to develop and assess business cases for implementation of energy efficiency opportunities.
Monitoring and investigating. The abilities to install appropriate monitoring equipment and develop analysis systems. `
Additional skills, knowledge and experience identified:
- understanding the legislative and compliance requirements of energy-efficiency programs
- financial planning, accounting and audit skills
- understanding of new trading and reporting mechanisms, and their strategic business implications.
The research highlighted the importance of team-based approaches to energy efficiency. The most effective approaches require involvement of people from across an organisation, bringing a diversity of backgrounds and skill sets.
This might include staff from corporate management, procurement, site management and operations, with appropriate backing and resources from senior management.
For more information see the factsheet Functional Skills for an Energy Efficiency Assessment
Energy-efficiency skills shortages and gaps
Research conducted by EEO program staff revealed skills gaps and shortages in key areas of energy-efficiency assessment in the largest energy using companies and the consultancy industry which services them. These included skills gaps relating to:
- data collection and analysis
- selection and use of metering and monitoring equipment
- development of business cases for energy-efficiency projects
- the ability to integrate energy-efficiency findings into cross-business operational plans and practices.
Skills gaps were not limited to a lack of formal qualifications, but also related to a lack of specialised knowledge, skills and experience needed to adapt to new technologies and methods of working.
For more information, see Energy Efficiency in Commercial and Residential Buildings
Energy-productivity skills and training pathway
Research for the Department of the Environment and Energy by the Energy Efficiency Council examined the range of essential skills, knowledge and experience that energy-efficiency professionals require to provide relevant services.
The researchers proposed increasing the capacity of the energy-efficiency sector as essential in providing the support for businesses in responding to rapidly increasing energy prices. The need to ramp up energy productivity was also indicated.
For more information, see Energy productivity skills and training pathway
Accessing energy efficiency skills
Energy efficiency skills can generally be accessed in one of three primary ways:
- developing them in-house
- obtaining them through recruitment processes
- sourcing them through external contractors
Internal company energy efficiency skills
There are clear advantages in developing internal energy efficiency skills, either through recruitment, or by training existing staff. Internal staff usually have a better understanding of the company’s equipment and processes, and can better contribute to a process of continuous energy performance improvement within a company.
Energy services industry
The energy services industry also provides a wide range of services to assist companies to implement energy efficiency strategies, such as reviewing energy management systems, undertaking energy assessments and assisting with energy procurement processes.
If external assistance is required, preparing a very clear scope of work helps to accurately define the job, the company’s expectations and the input required to facilitate the work of the consultant.
The scope should also clearly outline how analysis and recommendations should be presented to enable findings to be effectively incorporated into business cases, operational plans and business practices.
This should include any assumptions made in estimating project costs and energy savings.
If you are seeking energy efficiency advice, it is important to consult people with suitable levels of energy-efficiency competence. This often calls for people with a combination of training and applied experience in specific sectoral and technology processes.
Competence is usually seen to increase with experience, so check the relevant work experience of the people you are considering.
Industry accreditation schemes
Industry certification of energy-efficiency practitioners is provided in some sectors by industry associations.
Australian Institute of Refrigeration, Air-conditioning and Heating
The Australian Institute of Refrigeration, Air-conditioning and Heating (AIRAH) encourages world’s best practice within the industry. Through continuing professional development, accreditation programs and a wide range of technical publications, AIRAH has earned a reputation for developing the competence and skills of industry practitioners so that they can better meet society’s evolving health, safety and environmental demands.
Energy Efficiency Council
The Energy Efficiency Council lists its members who have international qualifications under the Certified Measurement & Verification Professional program and have done facilitator training through the Australasian Energy Performance Contracting Association. The EEC designed a certification scheme for individuals that oversee and co-ordinate integrated energy efficiency retrofits of commercial buildings.
National Australian Built Environment Rating System
The National Australian Built Environment Rating System (NABERS) is a voluntary environmental rating system for office premises. NABERS assessments must be conducted by accredited assessors. A list of these assessors is available at the NABERS website.
With around 100,000 members, Engineers Australia (EA) is the largest and most diverse professional body for engineers in Australia. EA has a Continuing Professional Development (CPD) program designed to assist its members to develop the competencies required to practice at the level of chartered practitioner.
Energy audit standards
Energy audits determine how efficiently energy is being consumed, identify energy and cost-saving opportunities, and highlight potential improvements in building services and occupant comfort.
There are three Australian/New Zealand Standards for energy in business:
- 3598.1:2014 Energy audits – Commercial buildings
- 3598.2:2014 Energy audits – Industrial and related activities
- 3598.3:2014 Energy audits – Transport related activities
In future, these standards may provide the basis for further training and accreditation programs.