Happy Women’s History Month! To celebrate, this month EnergyLink is having conversations with modern women in sustainability. For our third installment of Conversations with Women in Sustainability, Natalie Gregus sat down with Victoria La Rose, Metering & Verification Manager here at EnergyLink. During their conversation, Natalie and Victoria covered topics like Metering & Verification and female representation in the sustainability sector. Click the link below to read last weeks installment of Conversations with Women in Sustainability.
Verbatim transcript of interview below:
Natalie Gregus: Hello, and welcome to the third installment of EnergyLink’s Women in Sustainability Conversations with Modern Industry Leaders. My name is Natalie Gregus, and I am the Communications and Public Relations Lead here at Energy link. Today I’m speaking with Victoria La Rose, who’s the head of our Measurement & Verification department. Thanks for being with me today!
Victoria La Rose: Of course!
Natalie Gregus: To get started, can you tell us a bit about yourself your professional background?
Victoria La Rose: My name is Victoria rose, I work for EnergyLink, which I would describe as an energy service provider, which simply just means that we offer services of an ESCO, which is short for energy service company, in addition to energy supply options. So we provide these services for large scale energy projects, and a variety of industries. And if you want to learn more about what we do, I highly recommend you go to our website at go energy link. com. There’s a lot of great information on there.
As for my role in the company, I am the manager of our measurement and verification department, which has been under development over the past year. during that timeframe, we’ve transformed the framework of our nnB practices to follow the industry accepted international Performance Measurement and Verification protocols. So since it’s a mouthful, we usually refer to it as IP MVP for short. These protocols were originally designed to increase investment in energy efficiency, demand management and renewable energy projects. And today, they provide useful guidance for mNV professionals like me.
Natalie Gregus: Can you talk a little bit more about measurement and verification, why it’s important?
Victoria La Rose: Yeah, so Measurement and Verification refers to the strategies and methods that are used to estimate savings that result from an energy efficiency project. Many times they the savings can’t be directly measured. So what we’ll do is we will come up with some energy models that reflect the baseline history of their facility. And we will implement equipment to be able to measure over the performance period of the energy project to then utilize that model to estimate the savings. T
There’s a lot of reasons why M&V is important. But I think the most obvious reason is to ensure that a project is delivering the savings tt was intended to deliver. So through M&V, we have figured out that there are a few different reasons why a project might not be delivering as expected, which could be anything from unrealistic energy models or I’m sorry, equipment installation. So if the equipment is installed properly, and we’re not getting proper measurements, it’s hard to do proper M and V, or just equipment failure in general.
That’s another reason why real time monitoring has become a hot topic so that you can identify these issues early on, and troubleshoot early on. So mnb can also demonstrate when a project is performing well or better than expected, and it can even help identify additional savings opportunities that we wouldn’t have been able to identify without it. Overall, I think that our customers really appreciate the insights that our post installation reports provide them.
Natalie Gregus: Yeah, that definitely sounds like a valuable practice. And can you talk about what led you to this career and sustainability and M&V?
Victoria La Rose: My career to sustainability and M&V, I guess started with earning a bachelor’s in mechanical engineering from the University of Missouri. And I chose that path because I’ve always kind of been interested in the generation distribution and use of energy altogether, which is a lot of what mechanical engineers deal with.
As an undergrad, I also participated in the Department of Energy’s Industrial Assessment Center, which gave me a lot of great hands on experience. And that program, we would tore manufacturing facilities throughout Missouri, and provide energy audits for them, which would typically involve an interview with the facility manager to get an idea of how the building operates.
We would then go through and take measurements and collect data on their larger consuming equipment. And we would follow up with a detailed report on the energy saving opportunities that we identified during our visit, which would then turn Over to the facility manager to decide whether or not they wanted to implement any energy conservation measures based on those findings.
In terms of landing my role as manager of M&V, that started with a discussion with Chris Isler, the CEO of EnergyLink, he presented me with some challenges that the company was facing, which all sort of boiled down to our current M&V practices. So we made a mutual decision that having a dedicated department for M and V services would be a good idea. And so I kind of took on that responsibility. And it’s been a really good fit for me. He also encouraged me to take a course through the Association of Energy Engineers. And through that I was able to become a certified Measurement and Verification professional.
Natalie Gregus: I think it’s super impressive that you kind of took EnergyLink’s challenges into your own hands and tie yourself using that course, and now are the head of a department that’s completely new. Which is awesome. But working at energy, like I can definitely confirm that this industry is a male dominated one. Yeah. But it’s nice to see people like you. Females that work here in senior positions. So what is your experience been like as a female in this industry? And what are your thoughts on female represent?
Victoria La Rose: My experience overall has been great. I think that has a lot to do with the company culture and the amount of support I get from my co workers, I will say that I would be lying if I don’t ever have days where I feel inadequate. Um, I’ve always kind of dealt with imposter syndrome I did throughout college, and I still do. Today.
However, I’ve learned that being open and honest about those feelings, helps. And also reaching out for feedback on occasion helps build some confidence. I will also say that being a female in this industry means that you will be pushed out of your comfort zone. And you will face challenges on a regular basis. However, it can be really empowering when you push through and you make it out to the other side. I know personally, I’ve been with energy link for over a year now and have noticed tremendous growth, both in myself and my department by being pushed out of my comfort zone.
Natalie Gregus: Ah, yeah. And that’s great to hear. I can definitely relate to your experience being pushed out of your comfort zone. So do you have any advice for future female sustainability professionals or M&V professionals? And would that be?
Victoria La Rose: Yeah, my advice would be to identify early on what the roles and expertise are of your coworkers. That way. When you find yourself overwhelmed with something or a challenge that you can’t get through, you will already have done the homework to know who you can rely on or go to for help.
Once you make it across that finish line and you get through it, be sure to express your appreciation to those who helped you along the way. I would also advise that you pay close attention to what your strengths and weaknesses are. And even though it might feel a little bit uncomfortable at first, being transparent about them is important. I think that by doing that you can maybe get a mentor or talk with your boss about signing up for a course to help build confidence in those areas.
Natalie Gregus: Yeah, I really like that. I think that asking for helpful. So important can be hard to do. But it’s usually worth it if you want to be successful. Absolutely. Yeah. Was there anything else you’d like to add?
Victoria La Rose: I will say that our mNV department has come a long way and it won’t be long before I’ll need some help with the workload. So if Measurement and Verification sounds like something you’d like to be a part of, I encourage you to reach out to the energy link team. And most importantly, if you’re a company looking to pursue an energy efficiency project, definitely reach out to our measurement verification department to see how our services can help support that project.
Natalie Gregus: Well, thank you so much for your time, say Victoria and everyone make sure to check out our weekly woman and sustainability conversations happening this month.
Victoria La Rose: Thanks, Natalie.
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