Energy Engineer – Colorado State University
Please tell us your job responsibilities and day-to-day activities.
As an engineer in a Facilities Department at a large public university, we have new challenges almost daily. We can be working to obtain more renewable electricity of the university one day, to implementing energy efficiency projects on another day, to trying to mitigate the effects of a broken water main the next.
I also co-chair the President’s Sustainability Committee at Colorado State. In that role I help facilitate efforts in all aspects of sustainability from reducing our GHG footprint to helping bring a specialist in social justice to campus for a presentation.
Tell us your biggest energy challenge in 2017 and how you are addressing it.
New building growth. We are working to reduce our carbon footprint to zero by 2050, with the interim goal of 100% carbon free electricity by 2030. In order to achieve those goals we have to keep improving our current fleet of buildings and try to ensure that new ones are built to the highest standards. When a lot of new buildings are coming online at once it is hard to keep up with it all.
Is their a specific recent project or implementation you worked on at your company that you can share? Any tips you can share that would help colleagues at other companies who are contemplating similar projects? Please don’t hesitate to point out people in your organization who helped make it a success and who also deserve recognition.
While the effects of this project are not big in magnitude, the percentage savings is very impressive. As a large research university, we have ___ ultra low freezer in the labs across our campus. These freezers (operating at -80C) are notorious energy hogs. A coworker, Stacey Baumgarn, helped create a program where Facilities provided a financial incentive to Departments who chose a more efficient model. The new (larger) freezers use 8 kWh/day as opposed to the 25 kWh/day of the older models. We have replaced dozens and are on track to replace dozens more next year. Paying attention to these unique, hard to tackle problems can help us chip away at the energy problem kW at a time.
Please tell us what you see in the market in the next few years. What will be the biggest challenges the industry will face?
Lots of new, more complicated buildings coming online. From traditional HVAC controls to newer lighting controls, we need to train our people to run them. If we expect the systems to operate and continue to save energy flawlessly, then we had better train a new generation of Trades people to work with them. Too often I see a sophisticated design sequence overwritten because it was problematic or perhaps the tech just couldn’t figure out how to solve one small problem and “threw the baby out with the bathwater” and just resorted to a sequence he could understand. Currently I see codes pushing these advanced systems, but little to no good, cost effective training to keep them working going forward.
Tell us about a favorite hobby, passion. or book you’ve read recently that has an impact on you.
I have a lot of “hobbies”. I have been a volunteer firefighter for over 30 years- currently serving as chief of our Department. I enjoy helping in our community and being active. I have been a volunteer rehabilitator at a local Raptor Program for nearly 20 years – I enjoy working to help injured birds get back in the wild. I have studied martial arts for over 20 years – I like the discipline in traditional martial arts and keeping in shape. Last, but definitely not least, I am a wife, mother, and grandmother & I love celebrating life with my family.