EnergyWiseby Gail Conners
Steve Doty knows he’s in a unique profession. As an engineer doing energy audits for commercial and industrial customers at Colorado Springs Utilities, he’s in big demand. His new found reign, however, is something that comes as a surprise to Doty, a quiet, unassuming man, with a dry smile and even quicker eye. He has seen the future and that future called his name for decades – energy efficiency.
At a time when the United States Department of Energy is promoting their Better Buildings Initiative, and roughly 32 percent of current energy professionals are planning to retire in the next 10 years, there is an all out call for the next generation of energy professionals. The Association of Energy Engineers (AEE) cites in its Green Jobs: 2011 Survey of the Energy Industry, that 67 percent of energy professionals “indicate a heightened shortage of qualified professionals in the energy efficiency and renewable energy fields in the next five years.”
The survey also cites that, “72 percent of energy professionals indicate a need for national and state training for "Green Jobs" to address job shortages that are impairing growth in green industries, such as energy efficient buildings and construction, renewables, electric power, smart grid, energy efficient vehicles and bio fuels development.”
Doty reflects calmly on the statistics and knowingly says, “This is a good time to go into the energy field. There’s a growth in the green industry resulting from new efficiency standards, overall cost concerns and new technology.”
Whether you’re just starting out in college or at a mid-point in your career and looking for a change, the energy industry is looking for recruits, and Doty has just the answer.
Much like his father Gene, a high school science teacher from Oregon, Doty has created an energy management curriculum which will begin at Pikes Peak Community College in January 2012. It’s called the Energy Management Technology Program.
“I’ve always been fascinated by how things work,” he says. “I’m like a kid in a candy store when I first enter a building. As an engineer, I enjoy seeing how people designed and engineered sounds and how well they’ve held up.”
Doty’s college training began at a community college much like PPCC. He trained to install and service air conditioning and refrigeration systems. “As a professional engineer now, people always notice the influence from a hands-on background,” he says. “It’s definitely part of me.”
Working with automatic control systems also turned out to be very helpful as an engineer, even though he didn’t know it at the time. “They can be very effective at reducing energy use, and are often overlooked in buildings.”
Each of his jobs over the years had one thing in common: commercial buildings and the systems inside them.
Focusing on energy was the next logical step. Since 2003, he has audited more than 20 million square feet of buildings.
“I keep on learning- I feel like a kid in a candy store.”
Like Doty, there will be many others who are captivated by the “innards of buildings.”
Prodding for the program came from Robert Smith, PPCC’s Energy Program Department Chair, who approached Doty in 2009. They initially met and worked together on a program uniting local college students and businesses interested in audits, as part of funding from the City of Colorado Springs’ Energy Efficiency Community Block Grant program (EECBG). “We have something very unique and valuable here,” says Smith.
Students enrolled in the program will benefit from a mixture of theory and practical applications, and will be set for certification from the Association of Energy Engineers. Students completing the coursework will also obtain an Associate in Applied Science degree.
“This program will not only help our community economically, but help guide students into a career that will be sustained for years to come,” says Smith.
The program will focus on commercial systems with an introduction to industrial systems, and will then position the graduate for a career in energy management beyond the residential and small commercial realm.
“The curriculum condenses 20 years of experience into two, and is quite potent,” says Doty. “Students are first taught how to spot savings opportunities, then how to put a number to it. Not only does it help increase a person’s energy literacy, it gives them a portable skill they can take anywhere.”
With more than 40 percent of the energy used in the United States consumed by buildings in which we live and work, the need for professional energy managers will only grow.
So, what are you waiting for?
Deadline for registration at PPCC for Energy Management Technology ends soon. For more information, visit the PPCC website at: http://www.ppcc.edu/about/sustainability/ or call the PPCC Energy Management Program at (719) 502-3464.