Job Title: Energy Planner
Type of Company: I work for the Commonwealth of Massachusetts on state owned building projects.
Education: BS, Mechanical Engineering, Tufts University MS, Energy Engineering, UMass-Lowell D.Eng., Mechanical Engineering, UMass-Lowell
Previous Experience: I worked as an energy engineering consultant for a small consulting firm for 2 years after college and as a research assistant at the National Renewable Energy Lab during graduate school. I worked with a small start-up company on the development of small-scale solar drying technologies for Central American farmers for a couple of years after my masters degree.
I later worked at a utility company on their demand-side management program evaluation staff for a couple years after my Doctoral degree.
Job Tasks: I manage studies of potential energy conservation retrofit projects at state building. I manage the procurement of energy saving performance contracting services for state facilities. I oversee investment-grade audits of state facilities for energy saving performance contracts. I assist new construction planning and design teams in following sustainable design guidelines established by the state.
On a typical day I will contact consultants to set up meetings at state facilities to initiate a study of the energy use at that facility. I will review reports of the energy use at state facilities. I will compile energy study and consumption information into requests for proposals and issue them through an official competitive bidding process established by the state. I review the proposals and arrange and conduct meetings with a team of colleagues to select a contractor to provide energy saving services. I attend meetings to oversee the study and implementation of energy saving measures according to contract documents. I assist with the measurement and verification of energy savings from projects that have been installed. I assist with the planning of future projects and the reporting of results from previous projects. I work with other state agencies to plan and implement the installation of renewable energy systems at state facilities.
Best and Worst Parts of the Job: The best part of the job is that you get to learn about innovative technologies to save energy and water in buildings and to communicate those savings opportunities to a large audience of facilities and projects that are highly visible to the public.
The worst part is being slowed down by the number of rules that are in place and are necessary to prevent corruption but require reducing the amount that can be accomplished over a given period of time.
Job Tips: In addition to basic mechanical engineering courses, focus on thermo-fluids and take some basic HVAC design courses, lighting design courses, and building energy management design courses.
If interested in administering state energy programs it may be helpful to have some civics and administrative science courses.
Work for at least two years directly out of undergraduate education with an energy engineering consulting firm and take as much professional continuing education courses as available to get experience and a better idea of what your interests are in the field of energy engineering.
Additional Thoughts: I would have pursued more education while working as opposed to stepping out of my professional career for graduate school and stepping back in afterwards.