Originally published in Interiors & Sources

05/31/2013

Editor's Letter

Getting Schooled in Energy

By

 

Chris Olson
Chief Content Director

Mark Twain reportedly said that he never let his schooling interfere with his education. I take that to mean that Twain thought the dry facts of the classroom have little to do with knowledge about the real world. But then Twain never took the Certified Energy Manager course, and I did.

The five-day CEM course has been offered since 1981 by the Association of Energy Engineers (AEE). The instructors are practical, real-worldly types; in my case, Eric Woodroof and Barney Capehart. Among other things, Eric is the chairman of the board for the AEE’s Certified Carbon Reduction Manager program, served as president of AEE a few years back, and in his consulting practice has saved clients many millions of dollars in energy costs. (You may also recognize him as the lead author for BUILDINGS’ monthly e-newsletter, The Energy Manager.) Barney, who is a former member of the engineering faculty at the University of Florida, has conducted hundreds of energy audits, trained thousands of energy managers, and co-authored a half dozen energy management textbooks, including the Guide to Energy Management, a copy of which I received with my CEM course registration.

The course connects the dots. I had a number of aha moments in which pictures of the potential and practicality of energy management emerged. Like the course itself, I will try to distill a few of those:

  • Energy may be invisible to the eye, but its costs and the dollar value of conservation projects are easily quantified. For many projects, the numbers fit easily on a single page.
  • The model of energy that many of us carry around in our heads does not reflect the relatively simple but numerous ways in which energy touches nearly every activity and every organization’s ability to compete.
  • The value of awareness and attitude cannot be overstated – but gee-whiz technology can be if it is not implemented correctly and maintained.
  • The instructors’ anecdotes of energy waste from their consulting experience were not only entertaining but also gave first-hand support to energy management principles.

I highly recommend the course, which is offered at locations across the country throughout the year. The return on investment is great, particularly when you compare it to the cost of energy ignorance.

 

 
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