Keeping Up With A Fast-Moving, Fast-Growing Industry

When I introduce myself as a program manager for an energy consulting company, whether at an energy-focused conference or to new acquaintances, I am frequently then asked: "what does that mean?" or "so, what do you do?" When I was first exposed to the nebulous world of energy consulting, I had the same questions. I soon found that it is not an easy question to answer, because there is so much to be done. And when someone asks what kinds of energy consulting Gotham 360 does, the least specific answer is the most accurate answer: "all kinds."

The energy industry lies at a crux - the intersection of local and global markets, NIMBYism and corporate interests, policy and science technology. Evidence to this fact abounds. The New York Association of Energy Engineers' October lunch and talk by David Groarke explored the impacts of blockchain and the application of peer-to-peer networks in the energy industry. The September lunch discussed worldwide natural gas markets and exports. The annual Urban Green conference, which my colleague wrote about here, asked hard questions about the policy necessary for electrification. From the intricacies of crypto-communication to global production and export capabilities to neighborhood-level local policies, an energy consultant must be a jack of all trades.

And so, our job is to know as much about everything as is possible. This made my introduction to the industry seem especially daunting. How can I jump into an industry so fast-moving that even long-time professionals have a hard time keeping up?

The answer lies in finding opportunities in person and online to learn from sources with diverse qualifications. Books, webinars, and online classes can teach the fundamentals - how did the industry begin, where is the energy market now, what is the difference between Level 1, 2, or 3 ASHRAE Energy Audits? Talks and conferences put people in dialogue to ask the more difficult question we all come to ask ourselves - what can we do to limit dependency on fuel oil and natural gas to reach 80x50, how can community solar and PPAs become a reality for low-income communities, how can we ensure ECMs are executed and maintained effectively?

At our office, in addition to attending industry events and continually deepening our knowledge of the market, we keep our eyes on energy related news stories throughout the day. My colleague sends links, articles, forecasts she finds on Twitter. For those unfamiliar with the medium, myself included, Twitter can seem intimidating. But the truth is, you need a fast-moving media platform to follow a fast-moving industry.

In this city, the largest environmental resource we depend on is the least visible. Except for occasional billows of steam from uncovered manholes, New York City's energy travel ignored beneath our feet. And the sources of that energy exist even farther away, upstate or out of state. To keep up with this elusive substance, we must find new means of communicating, learning, growing that meet the ever-growing parameters of our field.

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