Energy management consultants are subject matter experts who can provide practical, useful advice to businesses, organizations, and government agencies on energy conservation. The concept of energy management is not new and is based on the fact that energy is both costly and difficult to create. In order to effectively manage a limited, but high demand resource, business processes are required.
There are four primary areas of focus for an energy management consultant: education, evaluation, proposal, and implementation support. All aspects of this job require excellent written and oral communication skills, as well as above average interpersonal skills. It is important to note that most energy management processes require significant changes to existing business practices, and that many solutions that reduce energy usage and costs in the long run require an investment of both time and money to achieve.
Education of executives, the public, and consumers is an important part of the work of energy management consultants. Everyone involved in the decision making process needs to learn about the current techniques and methods available for reducing energy use and costs. In order to really understand the options, the energy management consultants typically meet with key staff members to learn more about their understanding of these issues. The education process must be very specifically targeted to be effective, as decision makers are often very busy people.
Evaluating the current energy use usually requires three to four staff and up to six weeks of time on-site. The number of people required and the time frame varies widely, based on the size of the facilities, the complexity of the operation, and the current energy conservation processes in place, if any. For example, a manufacturing firm with multiple facilities and a distribution warehouse will require more time to evaluate than a standard business office. In order to complete the evaluation, the energy management consultants will need to physically inspect the operations, looking at everything from insulation to business process energy utilization.
A written proposal is provided at the end of the consulting engagement. This document typically includes a project scope, investigation methods used, summary of findings, and a recommendation section. Each individual recommendation includes a cost benefit analysis and total energy savings forecast. The purpose of these tools is to assist in the decision making and prioritization process. Although all the ideas may be valid, most firms will pick one or two high impact, low cost options in the initial phase.
Some consulting firms provide access to implementation and support consultants. These subject matter experts are able to take the recommended changes and assist the firm in the implementation of these changes. The types of changes required often involve re-engineering or a complete change in current practice. Expert advice can help facilitate changes in the most expedient way possible.