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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Apr 2005
    Posts
    6
    Good Afternoon everyone,

    I'd like to post a situation that is going on in my life, and solicit as much feedback as possible in the next 24 hours, while I am off doing my own networking.

    I will prefice this story by stating it may turn out to be rather long. I appreciate your input/patience in this process.

    I am a displaced worker; specifically, I've gone through several downsizings/reorgs in the corporate world since 2002. Late in 2005, I finally decided that enough was enough. Savings were dwindling, and I realized that my skill set had become too narrow in scope to become employable.

    To make a long story short, I did a lot of soul searching and networking with people, and decided to leave 'big business' and pursue a trade.... specifically, HVAC. My real intention was to try like heck to end up working on the commercial side or, with a bit of luck, try to get into a local steamfitting union after my 2 year degree was finished.

    About half-way through my first semester, I started to get a bit nervous. I started talking to people in the area where I relocated, and found out that the job market was pretty tight. I also started thinking 'as much as I am sick and tired of corporate america, and do enjoy rolling up the sleeves and working on mechanical systems, do I really want to be in my 50's and kneeling in front of a furnace at 12:00AM during the middle of winter'?

    At the beginning of December, I was contacted by a Headhunter in another state. Somehow, someone in my life gave her my resume, and indicated that I might be seeking employment in the near future. This particular recruiter works typically with the more technical side of things (engineers, etc) for companies like Honeywell, Johnson Controls, etc.

    She indicated that she was recruiting for a position with the state I am living in. This position was called a 'Energy Management Advisor'. Apparently, the state had created a division some years ago that partnered with K-12 School systems throughout the state. This position would be responsible for auditing buildings, and putting together a game plan for energy conservation.

    I am being recruited because of the soft skills I bring to the table, not the HVAC knowledge. What tech skills that are necessary for this position will be tought via seminars, my own research, and job shadowing.

    I have sat down with my instructors and a couple of personal friends (both in and out of HVAC). To be honest, I've been told that I would be the most foolish person to not take this position, if offered. I have yet to find a negative... which troubles me considerably.

    That being said....
    1. What do you see as the advantages or disadvantages to pursuing this opp? As stated, I'd like to see someone come up with a big negative, to contradict the data I have

    2. What is the future of Energy Management? Both instructors just attended a conference, and indicated that this field is only going to expand - i.e. there are no more cheap energy sources to be found.

    3.Any additional input you have is deeply appreciated.

    A big thanks in advance to all responders!

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Aug 2005
    Posts
    833
    We heard the same thing about the end of cheap energy in the 1970s (along with the impending new ice age). In the early 80s I recall paying 69 cents per gal for gasoline, about 1/2 the inflation adjusted price of the 1960s. Then they said we were facing global warming. I would suspect that energy prices will remain cyclical. That's not to say that it wont always be a good idea to use no more than necessary. Management and sales skills are always in demand, you're just going to apply them to a different field. Take the job, save some money and the next time you're unemployed buy a fast food franchise.

    eventu rerum stolidi didicere magistro

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Aug 2003
    Location
    Fort Worth, TX
    Posts
    11,358
    That being said....
    1. What do you see as the advantages or disadvantages to pursuing this opp? As stated, I'd like to see someone come up with a big negative, to contradict the data I have

    2. What is the future of Energy Management? Both instructors just attended a conference, and indicated that this field is only going to expand - i.e. there are no more cheap energy sources to be found.

    3.Any additional input you have is deeply appreciated.
    1) Advantages (how I see it): breaking into a niche field not everyone can walk right into and pick up. You likely won't be competing with hacks driving bondo buggy pickup trucks to perform energy management audits on buildings.

    You won't be crawling through a damp, spider filled crawl space at three in the morning to light a balky pilot on a floor furnace for an eighty year old widow who won't last much longer without heat.

    Disadvantages (possibly): I would think an energy management advisor should know something about HVAC controls. You mentioned there will be training included, that your soft skills are the main attraction for the recruiter, so perhaps this might be negated somewhat. All depends on what level and form of training you receive, IMO.

    2) Energy management will always be a concern. While it can be argued that energy prices will always fluctuate, it wil also always remain a significant overhead item for any business or other entity. Making existing equipment more energy efficient only means a better bottom line. If you become very good at creating strategies to get this done, you should be golden

    3) HVAC is by far the largest portion of energy usage in any building. I am becoming more involved with the energy management aspect where I work. For starters, I have been finding controls that need tuning to better optimize performance of the system being controlled. Only by understanding what I am controlling and how it is controlled can I derive a strategy to optimize how it is controlled.
    I would think in your case that I would place a high emphasis on the technical side of the work. Your soft skills will be valuable but if you don't really understand the equipment you're attempting to formulate an energy management strategy toward, you'll be missing the boat, IMO.
    It is common knowledge among HVAC techs familiar with controls that said controls are often not dialed in properly from commissioning on forward. If you can go in and see this happening and recommend the right changes, you'll be a hero when the bills come back lower and the performance of the systems improve. Go in half-cocked and it might not go so well.

    Personally, I'd take the gig. Go for it.
    • Electricity makes refrigeration happen.
    • Refrigeration makes the HVAC psychrometric process happen.
    • HVAC pyschrometrics is what makes indoor human comfort happen...IF the ducts AND the building envelope cooperate.


    A building is NOT beautiful unless it is also comfortable.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Apr 2005
    Posts
    6
    Shophound,

    I do appreciate your insight into this matter.

    I agree 100% with your take. I am accepting the job today, and will be dropping out for the semester. However, I am acutely aware that work today requires education throughout your entire career. I will be taking a course here/there at the college I am attending down the road. I really want to take their intro to boiler systems this fall. Beyond that, I want to learn the Controls side of HVAC equipment as best I can. I do know that I will be sent to take my C.E.M. exam at the end of my 2nd year of employment.

    Again, thanks for the comments.

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