How to Train an Energy Army

06/09/2015 |

Continuing education with webinars can be a critical asset for your career

Major changes are occurring in the energy industry, changes that make the times both exciting and scary. Consider the developments in renewable energy, regulations, utility grids, financing and environmental policy. As I mentioned in a previous column of The Energy Manager, the change required to satisfy just one recent presidential order is huge.

Change means that things will be done differently and that personnel retraining is necessary. Three options for training are 1) live, in-person events; 2) on-demand, prerecorded programs on the web; and 3) live webinars, a kind of hybrid that can allow attendees to participate in real time on the web. I have been involved with hundreds of training events, both as an instructor and trainee, and each has its advantages.

Some people enjoy traditional in-person training because of the interaction with other participants. They also may find that they concentrate better on new material in a classroom-like situation. Travel to a destination may also be an incentive.

However, the on-demand format is moving further into the training field, and I think it is a good option for many who want to learn more about energy management. Some people learn more quickly by watching a recorded program than reading a book (I am one of them). With on-demand content you can learn whatever you want, wherever you want, and for as long as you want. You can even do it while you are exercising. You can fast forward through material you already know and replay a topic that takes more effort for you to understand. You can take a coffee break when you want. In addition, on-demand training usually costs less, especially when you consider lack of travel costs. Travel may also incur weather delays. and possible weather disruptions.

Another benefit of on-demand training is that it is likely to be more up-to-date than book-based training. Recordings can be updated very quickly, unlike the book publishing process. For example, on one course I teach, I recently updated the entire webinar because the GHG emissions factors had changed a month earlier. An update of a book would take six months to a year.

But the convenience of on-demand training can also become a difficulty. Watching prerecorded training webinars in the comfort of your home or office can cause concentration to wander. Sometimes I find that staying awake can be difficult! Also, when I am watching a webinar, I have caught myself trying to multitask by working on other projects. I miss key points and must go back to listen again. In a recorded webinar, the instructor must work hard to maintain the viewers’ interest. I have noticed that good instructors use advanced techniques in storytelling, tone changes, simulated questions/games and other tricks.

The third option, a live webinar, can have group dynamics like a live event. Attendees of live webinars may be able to interact with other attendees if they are viewing the webinar as a group, such as with other individuals at their firm. The webcast platform may also allow attendees to interact with individuals in other locations and see their responses to the instructor. Instructors can ask a question and call on individuals for an answer, much as in a live event. The fear of being called on and not knowing the answer is a powerful motivator.

Webinar Resources
Below are links to associations with some popular energy management programs:

Association of Energy Engineers

As with any training, there will be some good courses and some bad. Much depends on the instructor’s abilities. However, you have the opportunity to test drive some programs before you commit to them. Some sites offer free previews or trailers so that a prospect can evaluate courses. For example:

If you haven’t tried web-based training, you should to explore this option. There is much that we need to learn – and apply – in today’s energy management field.


Eric A. Woodroof, Ph.D., is the Chairman of the Board for the Certified Carbon Reduction Manager (CRM) program and he has been a board member of the Certified Energy Manager (CEM) Program since 1999. His clients include government agencies, airports, utilities, cities, universities and foreign governments. Private clients include IBM, Pepsi, GM, Verizon, Hertz, Visteon, JP Morgan-Chase, and Lockheed Martin. In August 2014, he was named to the Association of Energy Engineers (AEE) Energy Managers Hall of Fame.

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