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July 2019 QA with Kerly Acosta Hitchcock

Updated: Jun 19, 2020

Hi Kerly - you recently presented at the AEE West Energy Conference - how did you find the event?

For my first AEE west conference I found it to be well organized, with a range of sessions, from broad topics to those specific to California. I didn’t know what to expect, but I knew it was going to be interesting since it was in the heart of Silicon Valley. And California is a leader when it comes to energy & climate change policy. California’s climate change goal is to double building efficiency, reduce GHG emissions by 40% for 2030, and have 50% renewable energy supply. And be 100% clean energy by 2045. This will mostly will be met by solar power.

One of the highlights for me was listening to one of the Keynote speakers from Tesla, and to sit in a new Tesla XP100D.

I also really enjoyed Susan Freed, who is the Project Manager from the County of San Diego. She presented on M&V for ZNE Facilities. Susan’s presentation was clear, easy to follow, and well laid out. The lessons learned are transferrable to any ZNE project.

There were a couple of neat technologies, such as the kompogas technology presented by Thomas Gratz, who described an anaerobic digestion technology that takes organic matter such as yard waste or compost and turns it into biogas and high grade fertilizer. This will help mitigate some of the methane release in California from landfills and waste water which accounts for 24% of their GHG’s. The other technology that caught my interest was Trane’s thermal battery cooling system that acts like a battery by storing energy to deliver cooling when it’s needed most. Technological ingenuity.

You presented on "Education/Training on Using Building Controls Strategies to Maximize Energy Efficiency" - could you tell us a little more about this?

There is high demand for someone who is knowledgeable in building automation, controls and energy management; however the labour pool is small. The labour pool gets even smaller when you add the skill of data analysis. These skills are in high demand in places like Vancouver and Toronto, where modern, green buildings dominate the urban landscape.

Most of the training/education comes from on the job training which creates inconsistencies across buildings, and it is therefore difficult to problem solve when issues arise.

I used the AEE west conference as an opportunity to highlight the need for more formal training in building controls to provide industry with quality skilled labour in this area, and to get the word out on BCIT’s unique, one of a kind in Canada, Building Controls & Energy Management program or BCEM.

Could you tell us a bit more about the BCEM program?

BCIT’s relatively new Advanced Certificate in Building Controls and Energy Management (BCEM) is a fully online distance education program that will supply industry with graduates who can use controls and building automation systems to improve energy efficiency. This program fulfills the need for education in controls, building automation, and energy management as a combined field. Graduates will integrate this knowledge in all phases of a building’s life: design, construction, commissioning, and ongoing operation. For more information about the BCEM program check out the link or join us for an online info session on August 13th, register here:

Kerly Acosta Hitchcock, P.Eng is the Program Head for Sustainable Energy Management at the British Columbia Institute of Technology.

Kerly has 18 years of engineering work experience in automotive, alternative energy generation, demand side management, environmental consulting, and teaching. Kerly also has her Masters in Sustainable Development, with her thesis focused on Sustainable Community Energy Planning.

If you would like to see Kerly's presentation from AEE West, please click here!

If you are an AEE Member and would like to see the rest of the AEE West 2019 conference proceedings, login at!

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