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Alumni News

Committed to Conservation

September 05, 2013

Brian Baxter was managing a Mississauga restaurant when the 2008 economic meltdown hit and he lost his job. “I had to re-evaluate what I was doing,” recalls Brian who had left his studies in the aerospace engineering program at Ryerson University to build a career in the hospitality industry. With the help of the provincial Second Careers funding program, he took another leap and returned to school. “So in essence I came full circle, back to engineering.”

It’s a decision Brian doesn’t regret as he has spent the last several years helping organizations reduce their carbon footprint. “I have the fortunate task of educating the public and businesses about the countless ways they can practice energy conservation and management,” says Brian, who has been an Energy Solutions Analyst for Hydro One in Brampton since January 2013.

Some of the most interesting and exciting aspects of this field are the emerging technologies, Brian says. “From photo voltaic generation (solar power) and bio fuel to the possibilities of district heating and micro grids, the applications of renewable energy sources are definitely encouraging.”

The challenge lies in convincing companies to look at energy conservation initiatives with long term goals in mind, adds Brian. “We need to alter the perception that these are considered one-off projects and have the companies take a more holistic approach.”

Before joining Hydro One Brampton, Brian worked in energy auditing for both the Toronto Regional Conservation Authority and Sheridan’s Centre for Sustainable Technologies. Throughout this time, he has seen the growth of the energy management industry, thanks in large part to Ontario’s Green Energy Act.

The Ontario Power Authority and in turn, the local distribution companies have a mandate to help reduce energy use and establish a clean and cost-effective power grid. “Companies will need skilled individuals able to navigate the incentive application process, develop business cases for energy conservation projects and see these projects to completion,” says Brian.

Sheridan plays an important role in meeting these needs on a number of fronts, adds Brian. “The sustainability team assists local businesses by conducting energy assessments for their facilities which include key conservation recommendations.” At the same time, the college trains current students in the field of energy management and conservation.

Bolstering Sheridan’s efforts is its own Mission Zero sustainability plan launched in 2013 which aims to reduce the college’s overall energy and carbon emissions by 50% by 2030. “Not only does Sheridan help industry and educate students in the area of sustainability, but just as importantly, the college practices what it preaches,” says Brian.

Learn more about Sheridan’s Mechanical Engineering Technician-Technology program.

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