Intern Perspective – Terri Connolly

 

Terri Connolly

I graduated 2 years ago from West Valley with an AS degree and certificate in Interior Design.  I joined the WVC LEED internship team as a way to continue my education in sustainability.  I have always been very interested in recycling, waste reduction and energy efficiency, and after taking West Valley’s Green Design class taught by Anna Harrison a couple of years ago I really became motivated to incorporate sustainability into my design projects.

As a member of the Energy Management Master Plan, our goal is to help West Valley College develop an Energy Strategy for the future. A energy strategy is a methodology to reduce energy usage by upgrading and retrofitting building systems that use electricity, managing and modifying building usage to prevent energy waste due to under-utilized building, and educating and changing the behaviors of the users of campus buildings. It has been very educational researching and learning about energy management and how to go about creating an energy strategy.  I have learned that there are many resources to help guide us through the process. Many colleges and universities have created guidelines for creating strategic energy plans for their campuses. After reading through some of these guidelines, including a very detailed plan created by EnergyStar.gov and a draft of one created for the California Community College System, I have realized that it is a very big job to create a Strategic Energy Master Plan. It is not simply a matter of writing a to do list. Instead it involves collecting data to determine baselines and benchmarks, and establishes reduction goals and timelines. It educates and rewards all users of the campus / buildings to create awareness and support from them as to the the value of the changing of long ingrained habits, schedules and methodologies, in order to achieve energy reductions campus-wide.

 

 It will take multiple semesters to complete and may even require West Valley to hire a energy management consultant to lead and manage the process and it may require a full time employee to develop, implement and monitor. Despite this, it is a really worthwhile project which will ultimate save West Valley College significant amount of money that could then be used to fund academic programs and student services. 

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