Energy Advisory Program sees jump in enrolment

By Genevieve Harms

Red River College’s new Energy Advisory Program is the first in Manitoba and growing rapidly.

“We see lots of people from different specialties, and people are getting passionate,” said research coordinator Cory Carson, a research coordinator with the program.

Carson has seen the number of students grow substantially over the last month. Four weeks ago, the program had three members, but now nearly thirty have signed up, and registration is still open, he said.

The college created it in response to the Greener Homes Initiative. The federal program incentivizes Canadians to make their homes more energy efficient by subsidizing energy-conscious renovations.

Homeowners can apply for grants up to $5600. The initiative will increase the demand for energy advisors, creating new jobs across Canada, according to the feds.

That’s where RRC comes in.

The 15-week micro-credential program qualifies students to become registered energy advisors.

RRC’s new Energy Advisory Program is the first of its kind in Manitoba./GENEVIEVE HARMS

Students learn the foundations of energy efficiency and how to conduct home audits, and the program includes training with industry-standard equipment and software.

According to Job Bank statistics, energy advisors in Manitoba can earn between $18 to $55 per hour, with the median wage sitting around $32.

Code officials and builders have been pushing back against the Greener Home Initiative, and energy advisors fill a much-needed gap in the industry by ensuring efficiency standards for new builds are up to snuff, said Rob Spewak, RRC’s research manager.

“There’s way more work to be done,” he said. 

The current way of thinking does not fit well with energy initiatives, he said, describing the current mentality as “build fast, build cheap.”

 “We’re confident that we’re going to add a lot of value,” he said.

The course is geared toward Manitobans already working in construction, trades, or engineering. It will prepare students for the Natural Resources Canada (NRCan) federal examination, wrote the college in a July press release.

“The opportunity to partner with RRC for a made-in-Manitoba Energy Advisor training program will not only help fill the immediate demand for (energy advisors), but also help ensure homeowners get quality information on how best to make their homes more energy efficient, while taking advantage of grant incentives,” said Jack Winram, Executive Director of Manitoba Environmental Industries Association in the same release.

The college is delivering the program in a blended format, with some classes online and others in-person at the Notre Dame campus beginning this fall.