Managing The Energy Department
During a recent interview with several energy managers for large public institutions in our state, the question was asked: “Can you defi ne your job in twenty-fi ve words or less?” One energy manager said, “I only need two words… herding cats!” As we discussed this comment, it became abundantly clear that the energy manager’s job description has changed over the years. In the beginning, when energy management was a relatively new profession, the task was simple: cut the utility bill! Today the job has expanded to look much the same as everyone else’s in the organization: energy management is a department with the task of operating as effi ciently and as cost effectively as possible within the constraints of company goals, company organization, and company policy.
The energy manager’s responsibility is to make “energy” an issue within the organization. How is it used? When is it used? Why is it used when it’s used? Is there a technical problem that needs to be resolved? A maintenance problem? An operations problem? Do you simply need to head off a problem?
More and more, we are fi nding that the source of the problem is not technically oriented. Today we fi nd that both management and communication skills are needed to get the job done. As a result, the energy manager now has to ask which set of tools is needed for correction of the problem—the screwdriver, the checkbook, or the coffee cup?
Professional skills now required to carry out the task include a knowledge of some rather sophisticated control systems, negotiation skills for the purchase of fuel and electricity, people management skills for enforcement of energy policies (without producing riots and public scenes), insertion of energy effi ciency into construction documents, and integration of those effi cient concepts with today’s design standards for higher ventilation rates, stricter humidity requirements, and longer operating hours.
Add all that to the fi nancial wizardry required to get it all done within ever-tightening budgets, and you create the picture of the job of today’s new energy manager!
This article will discuss the job of the energy manager as it exists today. We will discuss:
• The job description
• The key decisions within the job
• Coordination with other departments
• Ways to fund the energy department
Let’s begin at the beginning. Energy management initiatives develop in different ways within different organizations.