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Member Profile - Jude Hughes MEI Chartered Energy Manager

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When did you first become interested in energy? I have always been interested in the environment, early on developing a passion for waste management; so professionally speaking I grew up on landfill sites! My role as Environmental Manager, responsible for 15 landfill sites across Southern England; centred around environmental protection of the surrounding countryside, from landfill gas and leachate etc.  

Part of this was overseeing the operation of flares to burn off landfill gas, and waste to energy plants were being developed, converting landfill gas to electricity. It was around this time that I started to develop an interest in the wider energy industry as a whole.

I worked at the Carbon Trust where I managed a scheme to help businesses fund energy efficiency projects. It was a great way to implement improvements and directly reduce carbon emissions. I spent time meeting equipment suppliers and businesses looking to reduce their carbon impact by investing in energy savings projects; such as biomass boilers and lighting upgrades. I promoted the scheme around the UK, and it became really successful; with funding growing from £3m to £35m investment.  

The next step in my career was working for the MHRA, at a large Government Biological Research Institute. Where I worked for over ten years, as the first Environment and Energy Manager. I loved the challenge of starting from scratch and implemented many projects and initiatives. This included remediation and replacement of older plants and equipment, such as a lighting program, AHU refurbishments, steam trap and compressed air reviews, transformer and boiler replacement projects. 

In parallel to this, I have always been a strong believer in the power of behaviour change and tried out many innovative initiatives to bring staff along on the energy-saving journey. Including getting the CEO at the time and a choir to sing the “Twelve Days of Switch Off”, a carol we’d written to promote a Christmas Switch Off campaign, successfully saving energy over the holiday period.  
I am willing to try anything to reduce energy and a cumulation of many projects and initiatives achieved some great results, reducing site energy consumption by 17% and making savings of over £1.7 million on energy bills and carbon payments. Meaning funds could be used on much more worthwhile lifesaving research work.

It was at this time I really started to specialize in energy efficiency and love the technology side of energy management. I developed my experience in renewables and implemented a Solar PV Project, spanning across the Institutes many roof spaces and generating 10% of onsite energy consumption. As well as making significant lifetime savings on utility bills of £2.5m, I also battled through and successfully obtained Feed in Tariff payments, which gave us an ongoing income of £70k per annum over the next 20 years. 

Tell us a little about your current job  About two years ago I became the Energy and Environment Manager at London Luton Airport. I wanted to move into a new sector and have the challenge of working at a larger site, and the airport has certainly provided that. I am responsible for energy management, renewable technologies and transition to electric fleet vehicles and supporting electric vehicle charging infrastructure; and I’m generally on a mission to reduce our energy consumption.

I’m currently carrying out a sitewide energy audit; taking in the Terminal and all our buildings and hangars, reviewing the existing plant, equipment and processes. The size of this task is vast, but I enjoy the challenge! It will give us opportunities for capex investment and help focus our priorities, to further improve energy management at the airport. It has been interesting, in particular working with our Technical Services Department. We’ve combined ideas for projects and initiatives to make improvements by delving into all the different areas across the airport, and I’m never happier than when I’m rooting around a plantroom! I used the work to demonstrate our compliance to an external auditor, and they said it was the gold standard of energy auditing! So I’m pleased the hard work has been worthwhile.

Alongside this I am reviewing the use of renewable technologies at the airport, so we can start generating our own electricity onsite. This is to meet key business targets, such as 25% onsite renewable generation and builds on our commitment to reducing carbon emissions. It’s been interesting to work through the different renewable technology scenarios to determine what will best fit our site. Working within the aviation environment, means things are not always straightforward, but that’s part of the challenge.

I am undertaking feasibility work to transition of our fleet vehicles to electric equivalents, working with our Motor Transport Team and looking at how to phase these in over the coming years. As you can imagine we have a great variety of bespoke vehicles so it’s interesting to see how the market is changing to meet these requirements, for instance, the Fire Station test drove a new hybrid fire engine being developed in America, putting it through its paces to see how it compared to more conventional vehicles.  

The most enjoyable aspect for me of working at the airport is learning more about the aviation sector and the different teams that help manage the operations; there are so many different areas and activities involved. As well as being part of our sustainability commitments; to making significant changes, reducing our impact on the environment, on our journey towards Net Zero.

What inspired you to pursue this career, and what path did you take to get there?  I think my inspiration to pursue this career, came from my travels. I’ve spent a total of six years travelling around the world, with no more possessions than I could fit in a daypack and have seen the most amazing sights. From swimming with turtles in thermal springs in Australia, drinking Caipirinha’s on Copacabana Beach in Brazil, discovering pink dolphins in the Amazon and trekking the Machu Picchu trail in Peru, to name but a few.

You see the impact we’re having on the environment, and the wasteful use of our resources, and I wanted to tackle this in my career. By helping businesses reduce their impact on the environment and save resources; so I could be described as a professional tree hugger! As such I prefer to get on and make positive change, rather than talk about it, so I like nothing more than developing projects and initiatives, and implementing them to start making an actual difference. 

I began my career in the environmental sector working as an Environment Manager within the waste management industry. I then started to move into the energy industry, to develop my expertise further. Working at the Carbon Trust, I helped businesses invest in energy efficient technologies. It was at this point that I became aware of the occupation of “Energy Manager” that brought together the various disciplines I was interested in… and I knew this was the job for me!

Regarding my greatest professional accomplishment to date, I would probably give this example as it provides a cumulation of many aspects of my career so far. Encouraged by my CEO at the time I had a foray into industry awards, entering three different awards and was really surprised to win them. The reason it was an achievement is as an energy manager you can at times be a lone role in an organization and so it was great to receive feedback from the wider energy sector, I guess confirmation that I was on the right track! I received the “Energy Manager of the Year” which was judged by the Energy Institute, and in the same year the “Public Sector Energy Manager of the Year”, for my work at the MHRA, as well as “Government Energy Champion of the Year”, for my Solar PV Project.  

How has being a Chartered Energy Manager benefitted you in your career? I previously obtained the professional status of Chartered Waste Manager with CIWM and Chartered Environmentalist with the Environment Society, and I wanted to cover all the key disciplines of my role, and so I have also gone on to achieve Chartered Energy Manager status with the Energy Institute.

I have developed an enjoyable and successful career within the energy industry, and I have always been keen to continually develop my knowledge, particularly in relation to energy and new emerging technologies. I think the chartered status and the Energy Institute provides a valuable source of knowledge and skills to draw on from the industry.

What one piece of advice would you give to an aspiring Chartered Energy Manager? Definitely join up you’ll find this invaluable, and a rewarding step to advancing your career.

When I decided to do the Energy Institutes Level 3 Advanced Energy Management Course, it proved to be a great stepping stone towards chartered status. It took place over a six-month period and involved twelve modules covering all aspects of the energy industry. Ending with an examination and presentation, of an energy project I had project managed. An additional benefit was mixing with like-minded peers, and it was great to hear other people’s experiences. Completing the course brought me closer to my chartered status goal.

I do understand becoming chartered is a commitment of time, but I took advantage of lockdown and just went for it intensely over several weeks! And I am so pleased I did. My professional interview was in the first two weeks of my new job and at the end, both interviewers said in unison, “we want your new job”, which was certainly encouraging to hear!

Away from work, what do you like to do in your spare time? A personal passion of mine, throughout my life, has always been travelling. I’ve spent six years in total roaming the world, with the last trip being for two years; starting by chilling on the beaches in Thailand, living in a van for a year driving around the whole of Australia, penniless in paradise on Boa Boa and trekking off the beaten track exploring all the countries of South America. And through these adventures I’ve experienced and seen the most amazing things; and it certainly makes you appreciate the diverse world we live in.

After seeing our amazing planet, and on my return to the UK, it inspired me to support a charity working in the UK and South America, that helps local people and the wildlife. Which I’ve done for over ten years now, and Wild Futures is such a lovely charity to be part of, they do amazing work to protect habitats and wildlife, and campaign for a better future.

When not travelling I have lived most of my life in London, which I enjoy exploring and still find new things to see and do. There’s nothing better than having an interesting walk through the city or along the river. I’ve recently rekindled my interest in street photography and enjoy capturing the eccentricities of London life. Often ending up in a cosy pub for a relaxing drink of cider, where I find I have some of my best ideas!

And finally… What does your Chartered Energy Manager accreditation truly mean to you? I developed my early career within the environment and waste sectors and became both a chartered waste manager and chartered environmentalist. My key focus is on energy management, and more recently I also gained my Chartered Energy Management Status, which I had been meaning to do for some time and am really pleased to have achieved that status now within the Energy Institute.

The Energy Institute has always been my energy “guru”, and the most prestigious organisation to me as an energy professional; so it made perfect sense for me to gain my chartered status with them.  

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