While it’s easy to explain the benefits of energy efficiency to building owners, it’s much more difficult to ensure their facilities continue to perform at peak performance while you’re working to reduce their energy consumption. A new credential — the Energy Management Professional (EMP) certification from Energy Management Association (EMA) — is training individuals to balance the goals of energy conservation and building performance, which, according to Andrew Heitman, owner of Building Energy Sciences LLC in Pensacola, Florida, keeps customers happy.
Since its introduction, the EMP is attracting the attention of building owners, he explained, because professionals with this training are focused not just on energy but also on performance.
“A bedrock principle of the EMP program is to assimilate energy management principles with commissioning and retrocommissioning methodologies,” said Heitman, who is certified as an EMP and also administers the credential. “EMPs have the knowledge and ability to implement commission-based energy management. This appeals to building and facility owners and operators because they realize additional operational savings due to complementary improvements in building performance.”
EMA is a young organization dating back to 2012, when its certification program was developed as part of the Associated Air Balance Council (AABC) Commissioning Group. EMA became a stand-alone association in 2014, and its EMP offering is among the newest credentials to hit the market.
To attain EMP certification, candidates take a seminar and exam, generally conducted over two days, with 12 hours of classroom-style instruction followed by a four-hour closed-book exam. The related experience required of a candidate varies from two to 10 years according to an individual’s level of technical education.
The cost for the seminar, exam, and all related fees is $1,150. EMA charges $250 per year for a company membership and $250 for certification renewal.
According to Edward Armstrong, EMA’s executive director, “The EMP is unique in the energy management field. It’s very results-oriented with a strong element on ongoing energy management.”
Steve Dodd, senior sales manager of automation service for Siemens, became certified as an EMP two years ago. He believes the credential offers great benefits to those who seek it out.
“The EMP is kind of a cross between a certified commissioning agent and an energy manager,” Dodd said, adding that those who become certified receive training that provides them with a good baseline of knowledge in this field.
Anyone who has an interest in improving energy performance is a potential candidate for EMP certification, he said.
“It could be facility engineers, energy managers, HVAC technicians, or controls technicians — all of these individuals could benefit from this credential,” Dodd continued. “It would help each of them understand building systems better. That’s really the key to success for each of those positions.”
According to Dodd, a lot of these folks understand components, their functions, and how to work on them, but, he said, only top-tier technicians and engineers have an understanding of full building systems and how they interact.
“Associations like EMA really foster that knowledge of complete buildings and systems,” Dodd said.
Currently, Armstrong said the majority of EMPs are electrical and mechanical engineers.
“But, architects, energy engineers, long-time energy management specialists, and others possess the credential, as well,” he added. “They come from a variety of companies, ranging from MEP engineering firms to ESCOs [energy service companies] to manufacturers of HVAC products.”
EXISTING BUILDING EFFICIENCY
According to Armstrong, the EMP is a unique certification because it combines energy analysis, testing and balancing, and commissioning into a process designed to meet building owners’ goals. The diagram below on this page illustrates the seven project phases an EMP commits to when working to improve a building’s efficiency.
For Dodd, the differentiating factor that makes the EMP process so valuable is its focus on existing buildings. Other industry certifications are geared toward energy management and commissioning for new construction, Dodd said.
“The process involves developing a plan to make them operationally efficient," he said.
During the assessment phase, Dodd said, “The key to doing the project properly is defining current facility requirements with all the stakeholders, not just the facilities people. This is getting all end-use stakeholders to agree on the specific conditions a building can be tuned up to. The mistake a lot of people make when doing these types of projects is they do it for the sake of energy, and they sometimes sacrifice building productivity and customer satisfaction.”
But, he continued, “By following the current facility requirements in the EMP process, it ensures that you just get to the best level of energy efficiency and that you meet the owner’s needs for his or her business.”
Heitman also emphasized the importance of maintaining optimal building performance while seeking to reduce energy use.
“Effective energy management involves identifying and understanding where and why energy is used in a building or facility and using that information to measure, manage, and minimize energy consumption while meeting performance standards,” he said.
ON THE HORIZON
Looking ahead, certification in energy management may become more important due to government regulation in this sector.
“The federal government is starting to mandate some standards for workforce qualifications, and the more the industry is regulated in that manner, the more prevalent this [a certification like the EMP] is going to be,” Dodd said, adding that EMA is ahead of the curve in developing its certification program.
According to Armstrong, EMA is currently revising its continuing education requirements to align with the U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE’s) Better Building Workforce’s building energy manager specifications. This trend is impacting all major certification programs, he said. Some, including EMA, are working toward attaining some level of federal recognition for their credentials.
Plus, he noted, “Commercial building energy benchmarking regulations are driving certifications in certain jurisdictions.”
Dodd expects the EMP numbers to continue to grow, and he encouraged more industry members to seek out certification as a way to stay plugged in and up to date on best practices.
Publication date: 8/22/2016