What’s a typical day like in your job?
The beauty is that no two days are identical in a week. I identify energy-saving opportunities in campus buildings and quantify savings amounts. I also review operations of large mechanical systems for inefficiencies and work with technicians to correct issues, reprogram systems for optimization, manage projects and raise students’ awareness of energy conservation.
How does your work support Carolina’s mission?
Carolina has adopted a Three Zeros mission, an effort to achieve zero greenhouse gas emissions, water neutrality and zero waste to landfills. My role is to target projects that will impact the amount of energy resources (steam, chilled water, electric) required to operate buildings. A project I’m working on in various buildings will not only reduce the amount of steam that autoclaves or sterilizers use but will also impact the amount of city water the machines use.
What do you like most about your work?
I have the opportunity to work with people across campus, including HVAC technicians, building managers, environment health and safety personnel, sustainability representatives and students. It’s a great mesh with the technical side I enjoy so much.
What advice do you have for students, faculty and staff about things such as saving water and thermostat settings?
Everyone can do their part. No effort is too small. Don’t run your sink water longer than necessary, both at work and home. Take shorter showers. Set your home thermostat higher in the summer and lower in the winter to reduce the times your system starts and stops. Students can do the same in dorm rooms. Remember, you are bettering the environment and saving money in the process.
What sparked your interest in energy conservation?
When I was a kid, my mother reminded me to “cut that light off” when I left a room because “money doesn’t grow on trees” and my grandfather would say “close that Kelvinator door” when I left the refrigerator open for two seconds after getting orange juice. Professionally, I spent two years at Carolina doing HVAC redesigns for renovated buildings and seven more programming those HVAC systems with the latest controls strategies. Now I focus on optimizing those systems. When steam, chilled water or electric use is greater than normal, I troubleshoot, figure out “the why” and implement a solution. It’s the job of a lifetime for me—the opportunity to impact the environment from a behavioral and technical approach.
Carolina People is a regular feature in each issue of the Gazette that asks one of your fascinating colleagues five questions about the work they do for the University.