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Feedback from energy professionals – Part 2

March 12, 2014

Engineers and managers from around the world have sent Holmes & Watson emails with comments about their articles. Even one from Kazakhstan. Read some of the comments in this blog.

Watson: I understand you have gotten emails in response to some of your articles from engineers and business owners all over the world. Any from France, my home?

Holmes: The only one I have gotten from France is the one from you a couple of years ago inquiring about working with me. I am thrilled to have received very positive emails from all over the U.S., Canada, the Philippines, Italy, Israel, Britain, South Africa, the Dominican Republic and even one from Kazakhstan. This response seems to confirm the need for experienced energy professionals to share what they have learned with others.

Watson: What kind of comments have you gotten?

Holmes: I published an article in Sustainable Plant last October, Energy Professionals Talk Back, with some of the feedback and I have written up more of the comments below.

In response to my question to owners in an article How to Justify the Cost of an Energy Monitoring System, published in 2011, "even if you are really interested and committed, what do you do? There are so many people selling so many products and services and so many claims and promises and such a long trail of failures, Who You Gonna Trust?”

An energy engineer wrote, “The worst downside that I have come to realize out of this failure is that many of the private industrial sites didn't think that they had a problem to begin with. So a failure to achieve significant, documented, sustainable (that's important) energy and cost reductions simply validates their original thought that there is nothing to be improved because they were perfect to begin with. Why would anyone intentionally waste energy? It's just a fixed overhead. Now how would you like to be the person to try to get a real energy management program started at such a site at a later date? Good luck. The poor first effort will make it next to impossible for years.

Keep up the great work. And keep making responses that point people to where the real money is.”

Watson: I can see how it would make it tough for a competent professional to set themselves apart from so many who aren’t really qualified. Other comments?

Holmes: The 2012 article talking about encountering so many people who were convinced they knew more about how to conserve energy than I did, Excuse Me I Didn't Realize that Physics was a Democracy, brought this response,

“Bill--loved your article! Made me laugh with the whimsical style. Made me think of my goofy Thermo teacher---I still have the "steam tables" he gave us in 1971. As a ChemE I also had to learn: MASS in minus mass out equals accumulation.

And boy have I been there before. Billy Bob the custodian sometimes has more credibility than he deserves!

We engineers have come a long way reducing per capita energy and waste to our planet. But the "capita" keeps on growing. My friends remind me that we are a virus consuming our host (Planet).

Thanks for serving our country in the AF!

A great case study highlighting one of our larger social issues, the suspicion of expertise and unwillingness to trust it over what appears to the layman to be "common sense".

Watson: Surely not everyone was positive.

Holmes: Thankfully the vast majority have been but one writer sent a critical email after reading my article America, Land of Opportunity, Land of the Consumer.

“We are also the most generous people in the world. God bless those who can purchase Hummers and prime rib, they are also the ones who donate to the American Heart Association and all the other charities around the world. The American middleclass has been the fuel for the world economy for many years, so how did we become the bad guys?”

Watson: Did you say Americans are the bad guys?

Holmes: That was not my intent. I was just making some observations about our consumption habits. She certainly has a right to her opinion but I am not sure how she got that I think American’s are bad guys from an article that included statements such as, “in my experience, the amount of energy that people use depends almost entirely on whether they can afford to pay the bill”, “If you can afford to build a 15,000 square foot McMansion and pay the $4,000 a month utility bills, good for you! You’ve succeeded; you’ve made it in the land of opportunity!”, and “America is a great place where your only limitation is yourself; people from all over the world are literally still risking their lives to get here, even in this day in age. But America is most definitely not a culture of sacrifice, of conservation”.

Watson: Did you get much disagreement with some of your assessments of temperature control systems.

Holmes: Not so far. As you know I have been suspicious of temperature control systems since early in my career but I have found I am not the only one. In response to a couple of articles referring to temperature controls systems as Rube Goldberg systems I got a little more sympathetic email, Rube Goldberg Winner - Early Temperature Control Systems and Rube Goldberg Winner Part 2.

“Bill, Thanks for telling it like it is. I can relate a little too well. Plant control's dirty little 'secrets'. Too much stuff, doing too little control. I so enjoy your articles...Funny and truthful Also, sadly, I can relate to them a little too easily. I spent a few years in the basement of a hospital. The first year was the worst. The pneumatic temperature control in my 'office' leaked air. For a whole year I complained to the (contracted) controls guys and put up with the changing hiss and room temperature. Nearly drove me mad. Finally the hospital got to the point where they had to do something, not just my office, but hundreds of rooms in the hospital were leaking in more ways than one. When I became the controls guy, I pulled out so much stuff that made absolutely no difference what so ever, it was embarrassing. (If only I had tried this a year ago, I could have had a quiet office.) Keep up the good work of telling it like it is.”

Watson: Any more good comments?

Holmes: Too many to print here. I will share more in future articles. I encourage other to share their experiences with us and our readers.

Tell us about your experiences, both good and bad with energy professionals, what has worked and what hasn’t. Send us your comments, thoughts and suggestions on how to improve our profession so we can all continue to learn from each other. Thanks – Holmes & Watson.

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