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CEEA’s Efficiency Matters Blog

How to find the best energy efficiency education and training

CEEA’s EE Education Tool helps students and employees across Canada find courses to boost their careers

CEEA has created an online education tool to take advantage of the growth in the energy efficiency market. With the recent IEA update that investment in energy efficiency markets worldwide in 2012 was between US$310 billion and US$360 billion that must mean energy efficiency is also a job creator, right? There are lots of stats flying around on that. Some of the most convincing come from an overview from the Environmental and Energy Study Institute. It reports an estimated 380,000 people were employed in the US energy efficiency services sector (source Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory) in 2008. And a convincing chart from a Brookings-Battelle study has identified specific sectors within energy efficiency which have provided 823,105 direct jobs. Add to that a forecast from the Alliance to Save Energy (ASE) which projects EE could create 1.3 million jobs by 2030.

With energy efficiency creating jobs we need to ensure our current and future work force is prepared. That is the thinking behind our EE Education Tool which we launched on Sept. 30. It brings together all of the energy efficiency-related courses, certificates and degrees from across Canada.

We recently did a Q & A about the tool and energy efficiency education with CEEA board member Rebecca Isowa. She also happens to be Manager of Program Services, Faculty of Applied Science and Faculty of Engineering Technology at Seneca College and Manager, Energy Training Office.

Q & A with Rebecca Isowa, Seneca College

Why is an EE Education Tool needed?

Seneca College’s Rebecca Isowa says the key to energy efficiency is knowing how to do it properly.

One of the interesting things that we learned, and was important for creating the tool, was information that came out of CEEA’s Gandalf survey earlier this year. It showed that employees were lacking a certain skill set when it came to energy conservation. That demonstrated the need for some kind of education and training. [In the building sector only 16 per cent were very familiar with EE and conservation programs offered by utilities and governments, and when it came to businesses only 13 per cent of companies were very familiar with those programs.]

What’s unique about the EE Education tool?

What’s unique is that it addresses both education and training.  The education listings are post-secondary colleges and universities. But what’s also there is for professionals and individuals to upgrade their knowledge base. For example Seneca, along with the OPA [Ontario Power Authority] has launched an energy training program targeted to new entrants to energy management. We’re not the only post-secondary program that does this. We also have programs in continuing education and custom training. The goal of the tool is to help people across Canada find something relative to their needs locally.

Are there trends in energy efficiency training and education? Is it a growth area?

I don’t have metrics in terms of growth, but it’s interesting, I can’t say that it’s new. There has been an interest in energy training and energy management training at least for a decade. We found there was a need in the industry and the market for training beyond education. But what is new is the industry’s support for these programs. As an example, the OPA, they not only created a program with us but they are also creating an incentive. Upon completion [of the program] they’re providing a 50 per cent reimbursement of the tuition. To qualify you have to be employed in the sector focused on energy management in your organization. This training will allow you to make a change in your daily job that will effect conservation and demand management. It’s the industry support and delivery that are new.

What are the most popular courses?

A couple of things come to mind. Understanding what all of the incentive programs are — different LDCs offer different programs. Because there are so many there is confusion. Our programs focus on Ontario only. But Nova Scotia and BC education institutions  have something similar.  We show how to understand which programs are the most important and how to apply it to the organization. Energy auditing is another big interest. We’re seeing new interest for new entrants to the field, as well as interest in upgrading for individuals currently working in the field. And we’re seeing people wanting a second career. They don’t want to devote too much time, but they’re interested in continuing education.

What’s motivating the people thinking of a career in energy efficiency?

Making a difference seems to be a prime motivator. Getting a job that can make a difference for the environment and finding a rewarding job. And this is not just about management positions, building operations are key, building operators themselves, Building environmental systems have been around for 40 years. For a company and organization they’re putting people through these programs and hiring people with this background. The main motivator is cost reductions. For the individual it’s all about efficiency and cost reduction .

What are the differences when getting an EE education at a university, college or private institution?

Colleges and universities offer a post-secondary credential, university is more theoretical, college is more applied, and the private training is more targeted, specific and for a shorter duration, for people with less time.

What’s the greatest benefit about the EE Education Tool?

To encourage institutions and individuals to use the tool — the key to energy efficiency is knowing how to do it properly, and it [the tool] offers a myriad of programs that do that.

Posted October 19, 2014

Elizabeth McDonald is president of CEEA.