What is an Energy Auditor?
And why you need to select the right one
With the growing popularity of the green and sustainable building industry, people are scrambling for ways to get involved. That means this industry is creating new jobs – for engineers, for manufacturers, for contractors, for installers and for service technicians – potentially hundreds of thousands of new jobs.
One area of growth is in energy audits. Energy audits can save a home, business or building owner a lot of money. Done properly and with a good analysis, they provide an accurate picture of how much energy a building uses, what it uses that energy to do, where it uses too much energy, and how to stop wasting money. (Click here to find out more about energy audits.)
There are, however, some not-so-qualified people trying to take advantage of the latest buzzwords and trends. Specifically I am talking about energy auditors. But not all energy auditors -- there are many highly-qualified energy auditors with degrees and/or backgrounds in mechanical engineering (primarily HVAC) and building operations.
The people I am wary of are those who take a class, buy some software that makes attractive reports, and then hang out a shingle calling themselves energy auditors or energy efficiency consultants. Why am I concerned, and why should you be concerned?
It’s all about knowledge and experience:
- What do they know about ASHRAE Standards and building codes?
- How many times have they designed and/or installed an HVAC system, typically the largest user of energy in commercial/institutional buildings?
- Have they spent any time actually running or operating a building?
I respect people who have gone back to school or taken additional training in order start a new career. And people who have attended a seminar series or taken a semester-long class may be adequately qualified to conduct energy audits on smaller, simple homes or even small (approximately 25,000 sq. ft. or smaller) commercial office buildings with relatively simple HVAC systems, e.g., retail stores in strip malls or single story office buildings.
But they are not qualified for, and should not be conducting, energy audits on larger or more complex facilities and systems. To conduct an effective energy audit, you have to be intimately familiar with how an HVAC system operates and the many variations and exceptions that can exist within one system. It helps if the auditor has designed or maintained HVAC systems so he or she can accurately recommend cost-effective changes or potential new systems. This will help you realize maximum results at minimum costs.
Before hiring an energy auditor or energy efficiency consultant on any size project, you need to conduct a careful interview. Use NCG’s comprehensive checklist, “How to Choose an Enegy Auditor: 20 Questions to Ask When Choosing an Energy Efficiency Consultant.” It will help you find the right company for your job. Request your copy today.