Ask a Modeler: What are Some Alternative Careers that use Building Energy Modeling Skills?
I really care about the impact of buildings on the environment, but I don’t see myself as an HVAC modeler. What are some alternative careers that use building energy modeling skills?
Dear Sustainably Minded,
Speaking as a former building energy modeler myself, I’ve come to learn that one of the (many) great things about energy modeling is that the core skill set is highly transferable! I tend to find that rock star modelers are
Energy modelers have experience breaking down a complex problem into manageable chunks. They can communicate results in a clear and concise way. They have the ability to learn and adapt to new technologies quickly. Now, what kind of careers use these skill sets? Think about some of our planet’s biggest challenges. These are big and unwieldy problems that need creative solutions and buy in from a lot of diverse stakeholders. Sound familiar?
I know many former energy modelers who have found new career paths in software development, lighting design, data science, project management, computational design, corporate sustainability, event coordination, and content development, just to name a few. Some are still within the AEC industry, and some have left completely, but the skills they developed as an energy modeler still guide their new paths and successes.
And don’t let lack of domain expertise stop you! The traits that make you a great modeler are much harder to learn than a new field. Open courseware and other low cost resources are available for all kinds of fields to help you dive in. There are currently 669 courses on Computer Science on edX.org. There are 0 on patience. In my experience, if there’s a space you’re interested in and problem you want to help solve, the experts in that field are more than happy to bring you up to speed. They’re actually thrilled to have someone else lending a hand to help shed new light on a problem.
Ultimately I think energy modelers are great problem solvers. And let’s be honest, there are definitely some problems out there that could use some more people power. So whether you are concerned about the impact buildings have on the environment, or the impact climate change will have on bird migration patterns, use your skills you’ve sharpened as a modeler and start tackling them!
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