What Will an Energy Manager Be and Do Starting in 2015?
If you’re asking “what is an Energy Manager?” you’re not alone. It’s not yet a common role across businesses and organizations. Even in cases where an Energy Manager exists for an organization, the definition of her role might differ quite a bit from that of the next. For this reason, and because the role will be increasingly important to organizations as worldwide focus on smart energy use continues to grow, the National Institute of Building Sciences (NIBS) and the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) performed a job/task analysis (JTA) for Energy Managers.
I’m holding a nearly complete draft of the JTA, which clearly outlines what an Energy Manager should be and do. As a participant in the JTA workshops, I’m excited to see our work take shape in a form that should help in two big ways: first for organizations in strategizing how best to frame the role of an Energy Manager for themselves; and second for individual professionals in preparing to transition into the role. Although we’ll all see the complete results published soon, I wanted to take a moment to share some key points to consider while we wait.
“An Energy Manager is responsible for…maintaining an energy program management system that supports the mission and goals of the organization.”
It’s about business strategy, not utility bills
If there’s one thing that you need to know right now, it’s this (which comes from the document’s Energy Manager job description): “An Energy Manager is responsible for…maintaining an energy program management system that supports the mission and goals of the organization.” That’s a short statement, but with far-reaching implications.
In many cases, we’ve seen people look at energy management from purely a budgeting perspective, looking at last year’s utility bills to project costs for the new year. Instead, the JTA stresses that an Energy Manager will be a strategic addition to any organization’s business structure. That includes involvement in business planning, and leading the execution of a strategic energy plan for her organization. Which means that:
Energy Managers will be leaders
Moving forward, Energy Managers will not only be responsible for understanding the technical needs of energy maintenance and expenditures, but also developing energy management objectives, policies and tactics; managing workforce members in carrying them out; and even leading energy-related communications both within their organization’s walls and without.
This will be a major change for many organizations. It means changing how we look for and hire an Energy Manager who could now very well be a part of the executive team (depending on the overall business plan). And this means that:
Energy Managers will need leadership skill sets just as much as technical expertise
For current or aspiring energy managers, the shift in this role likely entails additional training or continuing education. While existing skill sets will remain important, to excel at this revised role you’ll need to be prepared to forecast energy trends (e.g. What are available energy sources currently? Where is the marketing going in terms of energy costs?); to work with business leaders and draft energy policy for your organization (e.g. “in ten years we will reduce our energy consumption by 10%, and increase procurement of renewable energy sources by 20%”); and to communicate sometimes complicated ideas into terms and concepts that laypersons can understand (whether that’s through public speaking, creating articles, or discussion in an in-house meeting).
I hope that these thoughts get you excited about the forthcoming JTA results just as much as they help you start preparing for the changes ahead. I think that many people are in a position to really push the envelope on being more strategic in how we manage energy, and that the findings of this JTA process will help move us forward in that regard. Please do reach out to me directly if you have any questions, or would like to speak further about this.