Oregon Business – LCC, UO Expands Energy Management Training Program

To interest high school students in a career in energy management, Roger Ebbage takes students on a tour of their own school. He shows them the utilities of the building – from the classrooms to the boiler room – and shows how steam boilers, electric cables and other utilities use energy to heat and power the buildings.

Then, he takes them to the LEED platinum-certified Serena Williams Building at Nike’s global headquarters, and explains how the latest energy efficiency controls are improving — and sometimes revolutionizing — the school’s design.

Ebbage tells Oregon Business that the juxtaposition is often telling.

“It’s usually a big difference because these public services in schools are usually quite old. You make them say, “Let’s turn these dodgy old things into some really, really good stuff,” he says.

An LCC student works on a computerized control program. Credit Lane Community College.

Ebbage has served as coordinator of the energy management program at Lane Community College since 1992. And now he oversees a program funded by the Department of Energy to help students meet the growing demand for energy managers and auditors. energy.

The Western States Building Energy & Controls (BECA) Apprenticeship Program welcomed its first class of students last October. A partnership between Eugene’s Lane Community College and the University of Oregon, the program trains students in the burgeoning field of energy management. It includes job placement, compensation, and 2,000 hours of on-the-job training over a two-year program.

The program also has broader goals. Coordinators expect the program to cement Oregon’s role as an energy innovator as the success of the program — and the growing need for sustainability technicians — convinces other western states to replicate the model. .

“This program is unique because in the past, the only careers people thought of in the green energy sector were mechanical engineers. But you don’t have to be a mechanical engineer to understand how an engine works,” says Ebbage. “The technicians do that. Our program does that.

Mia Hocking, resource conservation officer for the Hillsboro School District. Credit Mia Hocking

Instead of designing energy-efficient equipment, energy management technicians and energy auditors ensure that buildings use energy in the most efficient way possible. They perform repairs, diagnose faults, inefficiencies and malfunctions, upgrade to new systems and keep abreast of the latest sustainability trends.

LCC students pursuing a degree in energy management now have the option of completing only the degree in energy management or participating in the BECA with their degree. The difference is that BECA students will get 2,000 hours of paid on-the-job training along with their academic requirements.

Mia Hocking, resource conservation officer for the Hillsboro School District, said there were no other applicants when she applied for her current position as an internal candidate three years ago. although the post was published publicly. Hocking served as office manager before receiving the job offer and enrolled in Ebbage’s energy management program to prepare for her role.

Hocking says that by using computerized energy controls, the 42 buildings she manages (with just one HVAC technician) have reduced energy use by 20-25%. It also installed electric heat and natural gas heat pumps.

Hocking says there’s usually enough money to fund energy efficiency projects, and her most persistent challenge is the fact that she’s the only one who knows how to operate the energy control system. She says the demand for energy management skills will only increase as more organizations install energy monitoring tools.

The pool of candidates for these jobs, she says, still has room to grow.

“There are many opportunities to carry out energy-efficient work in different ways. What I do here is not the same as they do in Portland or Monmouth or Beaverton,” Hocking says. “Students in the program can all go in different directions and be very valuable to companies while feeling like they have a valuable career.”

BECA’s current class has 15 students. But Ebbage says he hopes the program will enroll 20 to 25 students a year once news of the program gets out.

During the first year of the program, students learn entirely online. In the second year, students will be managed by the Association of Building Contractors Northwest, which will place them in apprenticeship positions. At the start of their apprenticeship, students will receive 60% of the current average construction operator salary, which will gradually increase to 90% as they progress through their training.

According to data from the World Economic Forum, approximately 24 million green economy jobs will be created worldwide by 2030. According to an estimate by sustainable architecture non-profit Architecture 2030, buildings account for approximately 40% global greenhouse gas emissions.

Ebbage says the program was originally designed by professors at the University of Oregon in response to a 2019 request for proposal from the Department of Energy aimed at attracting more students to careers in the ‘energetic efficiency.

UO offered the coordinator position to Ebbage, who has led LCC’s energy management program since 1992.

“They handed me a proposal that said, ‘Roger Ebbage Energy Management Program,’ and I said, ‘Yeah, I’d love to do that with you, but I think it would be more appropriate than (LCC) directs and you enter. second.’ They said, ‘Great, let’s put something together,’” Ebbage told OB.

The RFP was successful, in part because the proposal highlighted the program’s ability to be replicated by other western U.S. public schools and fill a critical skills gap in the sustainability sector. With federal dollars now flowing into sustainable energy projects, Ebbage describes the timing of the programs opening as an opportunity to take advantage of the significant infrastructure dollars that are coming to fund sustainable projects in Oregon.

In order to bring students of color and students from rural backgrounds into the program, BECA has partnered with The Energy Trust of Oregon, whose Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Program Manager conducts outreach activities. sensitization.

Students can expect to pay around $12,276 during the two-year program, but the offset during the second year can help offset costs. By contrast, UO estimates that a single year of instruction — including $15,054 in tuition, plus books and living expenses — will cost undergraduate students enrolling this fall a total of $33,639. $.

And Ebbage says job prospects for graduates will be lucrative once they complete their training. Lane Community College currently estimates the average salary for an energy manager at $45,000 per year. Ebbage says that number will likely increase due to growing demand for these positions.

“They come to the job market with skills that will immediately benefit the employer. They can be immediately integrated into the work team and be productive. If they need to do a lighting audit, they already know how to do it,” says Ebbage.

“For me, this program is a gateway to financial stability,” Jonathan Moysich, one of 15 students currently in apprenticeship, told OB via email. “A series of unfortunate and tragic setbacks have left me in dire circumstances. Graduating from this degree is a life-changing moment for me.

Anyone in the United States can apply for the program, although Ebbage admits that placement prospects will likely be higher for West Coast students.

Part of the project’s stated purpose when it was presented to the Department of Energy was to provide a model for other West Coast states to follow. When it comes to nurturing talent in the sustainability sector, programs like that of the LCC and UO could serve as a guide for other states looking to develop their sustainability sectors.

“Our target is the western United States, including Hawaii and Alaska,” Ebbage says. “We’re going to take our standard and apply it to the entire western United States.”

To subscribe Oregon companyClick on here.