Energy audits provide building owners with a list of recommendations and plans for energy use and conservation. More complex audits will deliver a comprehensive plan, addressing energy efficiency investments that align with the owner’s financial goals. A properly conducted audit offers a wealth of information, including suggested adjustments or changes to save money and energy, short-term efficiency retrofitting recommendations, action plans for energy efficiency capital investments, code issues that can be remedied immediately, and opportunities to better adhere to lighting and comfort standards.
The audit process
Energy audits typically look at the entire building, including the building itself, systems, operations, maintenance, and building schedules. Whole-building audits offer a more accurate picture of potential energy savings. Targeted energy audits can focus on specific systems, such as lighting or heating, ventilation, and heating and air conditioning (HVAC). Targeted audits may be a good choice if you have specific retrofitting projects in mind and are planning to perform them with limited funding.
An energy audit includes four stages:
- Preliminary review of energy use
- Site assessment
- Energy and cost analysis
- Completion of the audit report
Auditors will also complete an assessment of facility operations. The auditor may take time during this phase to meet with key operations and maintenance staff to learn how the building operates and discuss any current concerns or issues. They will conduct a visual inspection and inventory of key elements in the building, including:
- Construction details such as walls, roof, windows, doors, and related insulation value
- An inventory of HVAC capacities and ratings
- Manual, time clock, or automated HVAC control methods
- Interior and exterior lighting systems and their controls
- Hot water systems
Building staff should expect to participate in the site assessment. Some auditor suggestions can be implemented immediately. Building staff can share their perspectives on building conditions during the physical review as well. At the conclusion of the site assessment, hold an exit meeting with the energy auditor and key building staff to discuss findings and recommendations.
A challenging search
The energy industry is an essential foundation of the U.S. economy, employing nearly seven million people. But utilities and the energy workforce face new challenges as they search for the right talent to carry them through increasingly high-tech innovations in industry. Utilities recruiters are struggling to find new talent.
Hiring data science graduates is one option, but there is real opportunity for bridging gaps in the industry’s ability to upskill existing workers. Upskilling gives current workers more job security, a broader skill set, and increased engagement and productivity. But even upskilling won’t address all the needs the energy industry will face in the next decade. Understanding these needs is critical for meeting them. Essential skills and experience include:
- Knowledge of energy management platforms and data analysis
- Ability to apply analytics and leverage predictive insight to prevent future problems
- Experience with grid modernization, renewable energy, and demand management
- Familiarity with grid edge technology integration
- Ability to build predictive models for energy demand, use trends, and environmental impact
Preparing for the future of energy utilities requires a strategic and systematic approach. To learn how tech can empower and support your energy and utilities technicians, contact Youreka today for your company’s custom demo of dynamic form solutions.