I wrote earlier about the US Green Building Council’s LEED AP (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design Accredited Professional) certification program. LEED is a 4-tier rating system for high-performing buildings that encourages a systemic approach to sustainable design. Historically, most LEED APs were architects, mechanical engineers, and other niche green building professionals. With the demand for green buildings and sustainable design booming, an increasing number of professionals are becoming LEED AP certified (more than 75K and climbing rapidly). For about $650 and a lot of focused studying and serious dedication, you too can become a LEED AP.
Becoming a LEED AP is one way to establish your CleanTech street cred if you’re transitioning from high tech or other industry, but it’s not the only professional certification available. Other professional certifications are available from the Association of Energy Engineers, including:
- Certified Energy Manager (CEM) – what I’ll highlight in this post
- Certified Sustainable Development Professional (CSDP)*
- Certified Carbon Reduction Manager (CCRM)*
- Certified Green Building Engineer (CGBE)
- 9 others focused on Air Quality, Power Quality, Lighting Efficiency…you get the picture
* These two are new and sound pretty cool. I’ll cover these in a subsequent post.
The AEE takes their certification process very, very seriously — much more than the USBGC, which has an increasingly rigorous process for LEED APs. Clearly, they don’t want their brand tarnished. So, what is that brand, and what does it mean?
Simply put, the designation CEM, which stands for Certified Energy Manager, recognizes individuals who have demonstrated high levels of experience, competence, proficiency, and ethical fitness in the energy management profession. By attaining the status of CEM, you will be joining an elite group of 6,000 professionals serving industry, business and government throughout the U.S. and in 22 countries abroad. These high-achieving individuals comprise a “Who’s Who” in the energy management field.
Sounds good to me. So what does it take to even be eligible to become a CEM?
- A four-year engineering degree or architecture degree. Or a P.E. with at least three years experience in energy engineering or energy management.
- A four-year business or related degree, with at least five years experience in energy engineering or energy management.
- A two-year technical degree, with eight years experience in energy engineering or energy management.
- Ten years or more verified experience in energy engineering or energy management.(Note: Letters of reference and verification of employment must be submitted.)
Sounds serious. Is that all? Not really, and unlike the LEED AP process, you can’t pay some money, study real hard, pass a test and presto! No, the AEE makes you fully document your energy-related work history and personal references several weeks before you even register for the exam. Here’s what it takes to become a CEM:
The Application Form provides an organized method for documenting professional and educational background, achievements and community service.
The Personal Data Form is divided into the following three parts:
Division I – Education
Division II – Professional Registration (i.e. PE, Registered Architect)
Division III – Experience and Activities in Energy Management
The applicant is requested to list on the Application Form all pertinent information in these categories for evaluation by the CEM Board.
The two areas of evaluation shall receive points as follows:
Application Form Data Maximum Score 1050 points Minimum Score Required 700
CEM Examination Maximum Score 1040 points Minimum Score Required 704
Total Required: Maximum Score 2090 points Minimum Score Required 1404
To be awarded the CEM designation, candidates must achieve the minimum total of 700 points on the CEM Application Data and minimum score of 704 points on the CEM examination individually for a total not less than 1404 points.
Get that? You have to have a minimum profile score of 700 or it doesn’t even matter what you score on the exam. The good news is that exam, if you’re qualified to take it, is open book. You have to pass 3 mandatory* sections, then pick and pass 8 of the remaining 14 sections.
1. *Codes and Standards
2. *Energy Accounting and Economics
3. *Energy Audits and Instrumentation
1. Electrical Systems
2. HVAC Systems
3. Motors & Drives
4. Industrial Systems
5. Building Envelope
6. Cogeneration & CHP Systems
7. Energy Procurement
8. Building Automation and Control Systems
9. Green Buildings, LEED and Energy Star
10. Thermal Energy Storage Systems
11. Lighting Systems
12. Boiler and Steam Systems
13. Maintenance & Commissioning
14. Alternative Financing
I was seriously interested in becoming a CEM, but now, not so much. I’m delighted with my LEED AP certification and appreciate how the training has got me thinking more holistically about sustainability. I’m eager to learn more about the new AEE categories (Sustainable Development and Carbon Reduction), though I imagine prospects have to clear the same high qualifying hurdles as aspiring CEMs. Either way you go, you need to stand out in a tremendously crowded job market if you want to get noticed — especially if you’re transitioning to CleanTech from another field.