Energy conservation consultants typically assist both residents and businesses in devising strategies for energy conservation. Someone working in this capacity may conduct an energy audit in an existing building in order to see where energy loss is occurring. When advising on new construction, an energy conservation consultant will likely be an active participant in planning aspects of the construction process. An energy consultant may analyze air movement within a building, determine a structure's orientation to the sun, or assess how people may interact with a building's features. The consultant may also advise a client on the feasibility of on-site energy generation, which may include renewable power projects.
Devising practical approaches to conserving energy is usually a major focus for energy conservation consultants. In working with existing architecture, often the first step the consultant will take is conducting an energy audit. This usually involves measuring airflow in and out of a building, and calculating heating and cooling equipment efficiencies. Identifying physical issues that may be impeding efficient energy generation and dispersal of heating and cooling technology in a built environment is often involved, as well. Usually, the consultant will make recommendations on how to improve efficiency, based on the auditing results.
When energy conservation consultants are engaged in new construction projects, the proverbial clean slate allows more choices in designing a building for maximizing energy conservation. In this case, the consultant may look beyond air flow to sun exposure, and may also advise clients on placement of a building's footprint, in order to gain the most benefit from the site's geological features. New construction projects offer opportunities for the consultant to work with an architect in adding features and integrating those with energy-generation systems for the client's maximum benefit. For example, window placement, solar panels and seasonal variations in natural lighting may all be taken into account as aspects of an integrated energy system.
Energy conservation consultants often consider usability issues. For example, an architect may envision building patrons using a conference room regularly, when in reality the room may be used only rarely. The consultant might recommend that a timing device be used to heat or cool the room a half hour before it will be used. In a similar fashion, timers may be used for lighting. On occasion, building managers may engage with an energy conservation consultant to work with office managers, for example, on ways to encourage conservation behaviors among office workers.
Sometimes, energy conservation consultants advise on renewable energy generation technology, such as solar-powered or wind-powered installations. The consultant may calculate the most efficient way to dovetail existing power generation with the new installation. Installations may include sophisticated equipment that can switch between renewable or traditional energy sources, depending on which one is more efficient at a given point in time.
Energy conservation consultants have diverse backgrounds and can work in a variety of settings. They may be engineers, architects, or general contractors. Some may work directly for utility companies, where they offer the utility's customers advice on conserving power.