I am often asked where the best jobs are in the new green economy. Of course there are many and varied opportunities, but right at the top of my list I would have to put carbon management.

Even if we weren’t about to get Cap-and-trade, energy prices weren’t about to skyrocket, and companies weren’t madly scrambling to figure out their carbon footprints, carbon managers would still be in high demand.

I had the opportunity to ask one of the leaders in the field, Eric Woodroof, why this is. His answer was surprising:

A generation of Carter-era energy managers are about to retire … en masse. A whopping 41 percent of energy professionals are set to retire and will soon be leaving behind thousands of companies who need, now more than ever, personnel to track and manage energy their consumption.

Dr. Woodroof runs a carbon consulting and training company called ProfitableGreenSolutions, advising Fortune 500 companies on ways to reduce their carbon footprints while boosting profits. His mission is to "Help your business help the planet," a positioned well-articulated in a recent video interview (with current AEE President Rusty Hodapp):

For someone who has audited over 400 facilities, he is also a very modest guy and neglected to tell me in our interview that he is president-elect of AEE – the Association of Energy Engineers.

The AEE has seen explosive growth in the field in just the past two years. This year the organization is more than doubling its courses to keep up with demand and they will likely double again.

Part of that growth is fueled by a new branch of the energy management discipline — carbon management.

Carbon managers share many of the same functions as energy managers. They will assess the ways in which a facility can imporve its energy efficiency, what control systems might be needed, how to lower peak energy loads, streamlining processes and so on.

But in addition the CRM identifies opportunities for reducing a company’s carbon footprint by looking at transportation, carbon offsets, buying renewable energy credits (REC’s) and possibly even verifying carbon credits produced by the company that could then be sold on the voluntary market.

I asked Eric why there is such a rush for companies to start monitoring and mitigating their carbon footprints. Cap-and-trade has not yet happened so there is nothing that forces companies to make a big investment in carbon management.

Eric responded, “Fear is a great motivator.” Most smart companies know that in the very near future they will be required to report their carbon footprints. Companies that get an early start on the process will have a big advantage in the marketplace.

And in the meantime, these companies gain the added benefit of saving money by saving energy. Eric said that many bigger companies can have utility bills upwards of $200 million. If energy management saves them 10 percent on their energy bills, well,  you can do the math. There is a lot of “free money” to be had.

CEM’s and CRM’s are a big part of that equation and companies, green or not, are willing to pay some pretty good salaries for their services (see salary survey above).

To learn more about training to become a CEM or CRM check out Eric Woodroof’s website. It is full of great info, videos and resources. If you are an architect or engineer (and like so many have been laid off due to a sluggish contruction season) you are primed for the industry.  Eric recommends taking the webinar on Carbon Auditing as an introduction which provides a deep dive into the industry and how to get certified. 

For more info you can download AEE's survey (PDF) of Green Jobs in the energy Industry.

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