The benefits of the Energy Specialist Training program are far reaching. Students who complete the training will walk away with proficiency in an engineering specialty track, exposure to major companies and decision makers through site visits and guest dinners, letters of recommendation from top officials, and earn the opportunity to receive PAID internships.
Background on the Energy Specialist Training Program:
In 2009, the U.S. Department of Energy awarded Orange County Board of County Commissioners with the Energy Efficiency & Conservation Block Grant (EECBG). This inaugural block grant was made possible by the American Recovery & Reinvestment Act (ARRA) of 2009. One of several energy cutting programs made possible by the EECBG was the Central Florida Energy Efficiency Alliance (CFEEA) Kilowatt Crackdown Challenge. The creation of CFEEA helped bring a group of community stakeholders, local governments, academia, non-profits, and local utility providers together in effort to create and promote programs that would help reduce the energy consumption of commercial buildings in the Central Florida region. CFEEA’s first program introduced to the public was the Kilowatt Crackdown Challenge. The Kilowatt Crackdown Challenge is a free program for commercial building owners that educates and assists them to use the U.S Environmental Protection Agency’s ENERGY STAR Portfolio Manager. Portfolio Manager is an online program that provides the ability to benchmark commercial buildings past and current energy use through internal data collection about the building’s use as well as the actual energy use from monthly utility bills. The Kilowatt Crackdown Challenge registers buildings throughout Central Florida to enter the program and gain access to free educational and technical assistance, and qualify for annual community awards.
Through the growth of the Kilowatt Crackdown Challenge program, it became apparent that while many building owners, facility managers, and engineers were convinced of the merits of using ENERGY STAR Portfolio Manager, the time and resources for the data gathering and entry simply were not available. A tough economic environment had forced many companies to reduce staff and handicapped many Facility Managers ability to do any additional work on benchmarking their buildings. In the wake of this observation, the Kilowatt Crackdown Challenge began a goal to provide qualified hands-on technical assistance that could physically go to the businesses and assist them using the ENERGY STAR Portfolio Manager program. With limited funding available, CFEEA set out to recruit the most qualified students from local academia to participate in a program that would not only help local businesses but would also help students gain valuable work experience in the growing field of sustainability. Thus, the Energy Specialist Training Program was born. Students are selected and trained by CFEEA and are then put through rigorous training consisting of a series of training videos and presentations as well as hands on practice with a program instructor. Once the student has completed all necessary training phases they are then prepared to begin assisting participants of the Kilowatt Crackdown Challenge.
The 12 week Energy Specialist Training Program consists of four Phases:
• Introduction to ENERGY STAR Portfolio Manager and the Kilowatt Crackdown Challenge. Students will have access to two presentations given by CFEEA at the University of Central Florida (UCF) to provide background information on the programs they will be working with and the clients (businesses) they will be assisting.
• On-line training and data gathering. Students will attend a series of labs to work with real building data while receiving hands on assistance from the program’s Coordinator. There will be three labs a week to allow students to attend on their schedule. There are two labs a week at the Downtown Orlando Orange County Services Building and one lab a week on-site at UCF.
• Mock Presentation- Preparing for your Clients. Students will participate in a mock site visit to imitate the experience of going out into the field and interacting with real business owners.
• Site Visits- Students will begin visiting and working with local businesses to help them benchmark their buildings and problem solve issues of energy use. Students will have the opportunity to interact directly with CEOs, Facility Manager, Chief Engineers, and decision makers as they work hand-in-hand with these businesses.
Energy Specialist Training Program- Energy Specialist Orientation.