A range of skills are required to implement effective energy efficiency strategies and practices. These skills cannot be found in one person, which means a team-based approach is essential when it comes to energy efficiency.

Functional skills for energy efficiency assessment

Functional skills in the energy efficiency assessment context are the practical skills needed in a range of discipline areas that allow individuals and teams to confidently and effectively complete energy efficiency assessments.

Research on companies participating in the Energy Efficiency Opportunities program found that 33 functional skills were used in conducting energy-efficiency assessments in large energy-using companies.

These 33 skills could be grouped in the following broad categories:

  • Project planning and management – The ability to direct and guide a group in completing tasks and attaining goals of energy efficiency assessment.
  • Communication planning and implementation – The ability to exchange, engage, convey and express knowledge and ideas in an energy efficiency context.
  • Understanding energy use – The ability to arrange and retrieve data, knowledge and ideas, research and investigation of specific technical and financial knowledge.
  • Identifying potential opportunities – The ability to think strategically and creatively.
  • Decision making – The ability to develop and assess business cases for implementation of energy efficiency opportunities.
  • Monitoring and investigation – The ability to install appropriate monitoring equipment and develop analysis systems. `

Additional skills, knowledge or experience identified included:

  • understanding the legislative and compliance requirements of energy efficiency programs
  • financial planning, accounting and audit skills
  • understanding new trading and reporting mechanisms, and their strategic business implications.

The research highlighted the importance of team-based approaches to energy efficiency. The most effective approaches require involvement of people from across the organisation, with diverse backgrounds and skill sets. This might include staff from corporate management, procurement, site management and operations, with appropriate backing and resources from senior management.

More information on functional skills

Energy efficiency skills shortages and gaps

Research conducted by the EEO program identified skills gaps and shortages in key areas of energy efficiency assessment within the largest energy using companies and the consultancy industry which services them. These included skills gaps relating to:

  • energy data collection and analysis
  • the selection and use of metering and monitoring equipment
  • the development of business cases for energy efficiency projects
  • the ability to integrate energy efficiency findings into cross business operational plans and practices.

Skills gaps were not limited to a lack of formal qualifications, but also related to a lack of specialised knowledge, skills and experience needed to adapt to new technology and new methods of working.

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Research by Skills Australia (now the Australian Workforce and Productivity Agency) has evaluated upskilling requirements in relation to commercial and residential buildings.

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Research by Australia’s Energy Efficiency Council has examined accreditation for people involved in commercial building retrofits.

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Research has been conducted to identify the skill development needs of accountants and business managers. Work was undertaken by the University of Technology Sydney, in collaboration with the NSW Office of Environment and Heritage.

Accessing energy efficiency skills

Energy efficiency skills can generally be accessed in one of three primary ways:

  • by developing them in-house
  • obtaining them through recruitment processes
  • sourcing them through external contractors.

Internal company energy efficiency skills

There are clear advantages in developing internal energy efficiency skills, either through recruitment, or by training existing staff. Internal staff usually have a better understanding of the company’s equipment and processes, and can better contribute to a process of continuous energy performance improvement within a company.

Energy services industry

The energy services industry also provides a wide range of services to assist companies to implement energy efficiency strategies, such as reviewing energy management systems, undertaking energy assessments and assisting with energy procurement processes.

If external assistance is required, preparing a very clear scope of work helps to accurately define the job, the company’s expectations and the input required to facilitate the work of the consultant. The scope should also clearly outline how analysis and recommendations should be presented to enable findings to be effectively incorporated into business cases, operational plans and business practices. This should include any assumptions made in estimating project costs and energy savings.

If you are seeking energy efficiency advice, it is important to consult people with suitable levels of energy efficiency competence. This often calls for people who have a combination of initial training and applied experience in specific sectoral and technology processes. Competence is usually seen to increase with experience, so it is important to check the relevant work experience of the people you are engaging.

Industry accreditation schemes

Industry certification of energy efficiency practitioners is provided in some sectors by industry associations.

Australian Institute of Refrigeration, Air-conditioning and Heating

The Australian Institute of Refrigeration, Air-conditioning and Heating (AIRAH) maintains a national register of accredited energy auditors with the capacity to undertake energy audits and develop energy management systems. AIRAH accredited energy auditors have demonstrated their competency in delivering Level 3 energy audits as defined in the Australian Standard AS/NZS 3598 (2000): Energy Audits. A peer review and reference process is undertaken to establish the competence of AIRAH accredited energy auditors. Every two years, each auditor is reassessed for the currency of their skills in the market.

Energy Efficiency Council

The Energy Efficiency Council lists its members who have international qualifications under the Certified Measurement & Verification Professional program and have done facilitator training through the Australasian Energy Performance Contracting Association. The EEC designed an accreditation scheme for individuals that oversee and co-ordinate integrated energy efficiency retrofits of commercial buildings.

National Australian Built Environment Rating System

TheNational Australian Built Environment Rating System (NABERS)is a voluntary environmental rating system for office premises. NABERS assessments must be conducted by accredited assessors. A list of these assessors is available at the NABERS website.

Engineers Australia

With more than 90,000 members, Engineers Australia (EA) is the largest and most diverse professional body for engineers in Australia. EA has a Professional Development Program (PDP) designed to assist its members to develop the competencies required to practice at the level of chartered practitioner.  This includes recently updated competencies relating to sustainability, which cover energy efficiency.

Energy audit standards

Energy audits determine how efficiently energy is being consumed, identify energy and cost-saving opportunities, and highlight potential improvements in building services and occupant comfort. Three energy audit standards are available from Standards Australia:

In future, these standards may provide the basis for further training and accreditation programs.