Utility costs are a significant part of organizational expenses. Firstly, businesses need to spend time and energy to optimize utility options, usage projects, and costs. Secondly, around the globe, industrial, utilities, high energy-consuming companies are under a lot of pressure to meet the demands of a woke consumer, the shifting landscape, evolving regulatory mechanisms, the growing threat of climate change, and the need to stay relevant in an increasingly innovative digital world.
Whether you are a small business with cut-and-dried utility decisions to make or a large business with more complex energy needs, you can benefit from an energy consultant’s expertise. Handling energy practices in-house can be expensive and redundant as they require investments in skill training and development when there are full-time employees on your committed payroll. But a consultant can do the job for a fraction of the cost.
If these discussions apply to your business, this article is for you. Making energy-efficient business decisions requires years of expertise and a keen understanding of state-of-the-art energy use and management practices. A full-time energy manager may or may not be the answer for you. But a sound organization could use insights from an outsider at every crucial turn. Here’s everything you need to know about hiring an energy consultant.
Who is an energy consultant?
Energy consulting is a sub-domain of knowledge of environmental consulting. It primarily revolves around understanding and navigating operational costs, business energy usage, and sourcing energy from renewable and sustainable sources. An energy consultant helps you make more informed business decisions with energy insights.
For instance, an energy consultant may chart out growth strategies, enhance customer experience, rework your operation models, revamp operations, reshape talent, and arrive at sustainable decarbonization goals. Based on your context, you may be required to adopt new technologies, build capabilities, and implement energy-informed strategies that will set you up for success.
Energy consulting further branches out into expertise in different types of energy: solar, wind, geothermal, nuclear, and bioenergy systems which are gaining currency over petroleum and coal-based energy systems. These options become relevant as they vary depending on weather, location, topographies, and regulatory requirements.
Qualifications of an energy consultant
Energy consultants advise both the governments and private bodies on clean energy and energy efficiency. Entry requirements in the trade include a primary degree in relevant subjects, analytical skills, knowledge of green certifications, and so on. Find them below.
- A bachelor’s degree in engineering, physics, earth science, environmental engineering, and related disciplines
- Additional accreditations that are important to the sector of work or country
- Analytical skill and logical reasoning
- Proficiency in written and spoken communication
- A keen understanding of the energy industry and green certifications
- A solid technical background
- People skills to work with clients, vendors, and stakeholders
Responsibilities of an energy consultant
Energy consultants are likely to spend a lot of time doing physical inspections of your offices and units and reviewing financial records about energy expenses. Their know-how in technological and engineering systems, innovation, smart energy budgeting, and equipment makes them crucial. In addition to their key participation in boardroom decisions, their roles and responsibilities may vary from project to project. The day-to-day activities include:
- Research on trending energy usage and management practices that are relevant to clients, sustainable, and cost-effective
- Energy audits for clients
- Identifying areas where energy consumption can be reduced
- Investigating alternative sources of energy
- Analyzing data for future strategies
- Fielding studies for alternative and greener energy options
- Assisting clients with more renewable energy usage and management
- Summarizing insights and delivering them to clients
- Obtaining green certifications for clients
Key skills of an energy consultant
A study discovered that many resumes of energy consultants listed customer-service skills, physical stamina, and self-confidence. 27.4% listed communication skills, 11.4% included project management skills, 5% specified hard skills like a working understanding of Heating, Ventilation, and Air Conditioning (HVAC) systems and installation processes. Other key skills include:
- A sound technical background in engineering
- Creative problem-solving ability
- Proficient communication, empathic, and people skills
- Presentation skills, charisma, and charm
- An eye for detail
- Sales and pitching skills
- Organizational, project management, and leadership skills
- Research and analytical capabilities
Certifications to look for in an energy consultant
When you’re hiring an energy consultant, you want someone who can monitor your utility, analyze reports, and manage energy projects. You’ll need a wide universe of information from intelligence on technology and infrastructure, costs, procurement, tax incentive opportunities, and volatility. Talent with one or more of these certifications can add a lot of value to your energy transformation journey.
Certified energy manager
Issued by the Association of Energy Engineers (AEE) since 1941, the certification encompasses systems integration of electrical, mechanical, process, factory, and building infrastructure with a cost-efficiency.
2. Business energy professional
Also created by the AEE, this certificate covers competency, legal affairs, and ethical fitness for business development, marketing, and energy management-related domains of expertise.
3. LEED professional credential
The Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) credential attests to someone who can actively participate in the green building movement in design, construction, operations, maintenance, reduction of pollutions, and energy saving.
4. Certified sustainability advisor
This credential signifies someone who has a niche knowledge of the strategies and tools to construct and manage sustainable plants, factories, buildings, supply chains, and manufacturing processes, etc. They may often work with civil engineers, architects builders, and professionals in utility services. This is someone you can count on for financial incentives and partnerships with governments, utilities, and civil society.
5. Credential for green property management
The CGPM certification is contoured for frontline staff and mid-management professionals who can take charge of monthly, quarterly, and annual green operations and management practices. In fact, if you need to know the trending technologies and techniques for green improvements, this is a green flag.
Is an energy consultant right for you?
Smaller businesses often have limited control of their real estate, physical structures, and equipment if they rent or lease their business locations. Larger businesses may need to evaluate their energy usage and management at multiple locations from time to time. For utilities, industrial, manufacturing, and supply chain entities it becomes even more crucial to keep track of the power grid with carbon transformation programs, innovative engineering systems, and computing intelligence in both public and private sectors.
Navigating the minefield of energy suppliers, rates, tariffs, operational performance, insurances can be a daunting task. Hiring an energy consultant can offer you the best energy-efficient opportunities and give you a candid picture of your energy grid to make smarter business decisions. An energy consultant can help you summon the focus, flexibility, innovation, impact, and economics that can lower your overall energy costs and drive those savings to your company’s bottom line.
“Two out of three won’t do it,” says Partner at Bain & Co., San Francisco, referring to companies that have an imperative to lead innovation, drive impact, and master the economics of energy and resource transitions. The ones that do, use the Triple Bottom Line (TBL) framework to meet holistic business goals. Specifically, TBL consists of financial, social, and environmental responsibilities that businesses owe to society.
If you’ve decided that an energy consultant is a reasonable option for your business and clientele, here are a few things to ask yourself before you make that hire.
Benefits of hiring an energy consultant
Experience counts in energy efficiency consulting. Besides, an outsider can bring a fresh perspective to the table. Strategic analyses may often become myopic and need reframing from time to time. A view from the outside may be just the thing you need to shift the discussion toward a broader landscape. Outside-in thinking can offer “strategic inflection points” that organizational leadership needs.
The four pillars of knowledge work consulting are information, expertise, insight, and execution. Hiring an energy consultant can give you all the necessary ingredients to solve complex business problems. For instance, better buildings with larger windows can make offices less dependent on artificial lighting. And LED fixtures account for a 70% drop in energy usage over traditional fluorescent tube lighting. An expert will have command over how to benchmark your efficiency and take the necessary steps forward.
An energy managerial position in your organization may be superfluous in your organization. Having someone else do it takes a load off your staff. A consultant, on the other hand, can work for you on-demand on a contractual basis periodically. Functions may range from auditing your utility bills to setting reasonable energy goals and executing your sustainability efforts with the commitment of a project manager. Why spend time, effort, and money on talent and insights that you can hire part-time instead?
Energy consultants usually have a well-connected web of access to demand response programs in the smart grid. They can get your organizations into programs that make sense to you and further incentivize your energy-saving goals and efforts. Utility companies have great compensation packages like financial incentives and lower electricity bills for companies that subscribe to their programs and meet simple guidelines and targets.
Both the federal and local governments make provisions for smart aggregation opportunities where businesses can team up and create a single utility account. An energy consultant can help build and sustain partnerships with the authorities and local businesses to ultimately help reduce costs, deploy smarter meters, and modernize the energy distribution network responsibly.
What to look for in an energy consultant
In the energy sector, knowledge is power, and a good consultant will have worked with multiple industries and dealt with diverse facets of the energy industry. Here are some points to vet when you’re hiring an energy consultant.
Consider the necessary licenses and certifications that validate their profile. In the US, some of these credentials come from entities like NAESCO, DLC, California Energy Commission, Design-Build Institute of America, Associated Builders and Contractors, Inc., League of California Cities, Construction Management Association of America, and US Green Building Council, to name a few.
A history of success can give you reliable references and success stories to make a confident hire. Nothing attests to skill and expertise like work done. These recommendations can also help you understand nuanced perspectives as compared to listicles on a resume.
Along with social proof, numbers of impact and economics add substantial validation. Look for metrics like reduction of costs, savings, energy benchmarking, and so on. Hard facts and quantifiable metrics usually help you get a clearer picture of expertise and pick the right expert for you.
Besides technical know-how and innovative prowess, a good energy consultant has the necessary soft skills to communicate jargon in plain language and derive valuable insights from audits. Good energy consultants usually have a balance of left-brain and right-brain skills.
When you’re hiring an energy consultant, get an inventory of goals your organization needs to accomplish. Any consultant will do an audit and recommend suggestions. But if your organization needs a project manager to take ownership of the job and see it through, you’ll need an itemized scope of work and services.
The energy needs of different organizations and situations are complex. There’s no cookie-cutter plan and pricing for this kind of knowledge work. Find a consultant who can understand nuanced problems, adapt, and appropriate both technical knowledge and creative thinking.
Not every consultant may include implementation and project management in their fee structure. If you’re only hiring high-level insights, get execution suggestions or ask for a coaching session that can help build these capabilities in-house for you.
The big picture
Every consultant comes with their personal experiences and biases based on work they have done before. But the extent of energy opportunities and information stretch beyond one expert’s background. Factor this bias in the equation before you place your organization in the current market and energy domain.
Tax incentives and energy policies may be federal, local, or international. A consultant with expertise in one state may or may not have the lay of the land in your state. Moreover, if you have multiple business locations across the states and overseas, energy should be a hyper-localized priority for you.
Before you hire an independent consultant, it’s important to understand the long-term implications of your energy choices. Their service engagement may be finite but important business actions may be associated with longer outcomes. Knowing the results beforehand can help manage risks and make adjustments.
Where can I find the best energy consultants?
Around the world, industries have been prescribed low-emission energy technologies, raise funds for energy infrastructure, partner with governments for legal and regulatory reforms, remove bottlenecks in energy generation and consumption, and increased the use of renewable energy for sustained economic growth and social development. If you’re contemplating hiring an energy consultant, you’re going to need a competent partner with comprehensive knowledge and the ability to complement your energy needs.
You can find great energy consultants in legacy consulting companies. But that industry itself is ripe for disruption on account of several factors like secrecy, cost, their business model, and operational policies. Organizational needs across the world are shifting dynamically and the big consulting firms may or may not manage smaller projects at acceptable profits. Furthermore, it may be looked down on.
If you’re a small to medium-size business, you’re probably looking to hire the best with optimal project costs. Even if you’re a larger firm that can easily afford annual contracts and subscriptions with a large consulting firm, you can still find simpler ways to get the job done with speed, reduced cost, and efficiency.
Meeting energy goals such as consuming less, decarbonizing or electrifying, greening the electricity supply, capturing and storing carbon, biofuels, infrastructure, or net-zero are all important organizational evolution today. There are a lot of discussions and studies around abatement curves and net-zero emissions. Arriving there has a lot to do with encouraging capital, smart investments, and reducing risks.
At CleverX, you get to work with the world’s leading energy consultants with commendable expertise to meet all of these goals. Search, connect, message, and get work started within 24 hours. Over 10,000 verified experts from the world sign up every week. Here’s how you can find the right ones.
Tips for hiring an energy consultant on CleverX
Optimize your search
Go to the Find experts and type your keywords like energy consultants or renewable energy experts or LEED energy professionals. You can further optimize your search with
- Minute or hour rates
- Specific industries
- Your geographic location
- Top companies
- Job roles,
- Entry to executive-level seniority
If you can’t find what you’re looking for, try to shorten or rephrase your search.
2. Hire smart
Drop them a message and fix a time that works for both of you. Hire them for a consultation, short-term, or long-term projects either remotely or on-site.
3. Pay only if you’re satisfied
We’re obsessed with seamless delivery, value, and security. Your payment goes through only when the work is approved.
Bringing together your leadership team and experts from anywhere in the world can help you make confident business decisions and yield some impressive numbers for you. As they once said in Forbes, you “ Meet experts and teams who’ve taken “rockets to the moon, and planned the best trade route from Mumbai to Frankfurt.”
The future of energy is here. Find the world’s leading energy consultants now.