How would you describe what you are doing at McKinstry in 50 words or less?
At McKinstry, I develop energy conservation measure (ECM) calculations to help inform whether specific ECMs are included in larger energy performance contracts (EPCs). To date, I have worked on three ECM calculations: energy savings from heat pump installation, demand savings from thermal energy storage installation, and cost savings from fleet vehicle fuel conversion.
What are your three biggest takeaways from this program?
My three biggest takeaways from McKinstry are:
- Companies are capable of valuing people over profit and there are demonstrable benefits to putting people first. McKinstry’s success is not an accident, and its success is most certainly derived from its people-first ethos.
- If you cannot find the right tool for the job, make it yourself. Throughout McKinstry’s history, it has overcome a plethora of inefficiencies in the construction sector by consolidating its own supply lines, streamlining its own workflow, adopting a “manufacturing mindset,” and encouraging its competitors to do the same. Don’t settle for inefficiency–innovate.
- If you want to go far, work as a team. McKinstry’s ability to ensure project sustainability through offerings like transition to sustainable operations (TSO), powerED, and asset management demonstrates how interdisciplinary and inclusive teamwork is by far the most important characteristic of a successful project. Engineering is not exempt from social and political constraints, and McKinstry does not subscribe to this common pitfall.
What has been the most valuable thing you have learned during this internship so far?
The most valuable lesson I’ve learned from this internship is how to communicate my technical findings effectively and in a way that encourages the constructive examination of my results. Through the many ECM calculations I’ve sent to my manager, I’ve learned the importance of keeping a well-organized spreadsheet, listing your assumptions clearly so that they can be changed quickly, and using graphic design techniques to make your spreadsheet approachable and understandable. Furthermore, I’ve learned that it is vital to explain the assumptions, process, and results of all calculations in a succinct narrative when sending spreadsheets via email. Spending a bit of extra time carefully crafting calculations makes communication so much easier and has saved me from a lot of post hoc explanations. Spreadsheets can be art! Make them approachable and thoughtful!
What has McKinstry been successful in with tackling the challenge of COVID-19 from a company and an intern perspective (i.e. measures taken company wide and measures taken within the BLUE Program)?
As an intern, I have been quite impressed by Bri Kastning’s (Employee Development Program Manager) ability to create a community within the B.L.U.E. Program. From our coffee chats to periodic Lunch and Learns to social hours with all the interns, Bri has done an incredible job bringing the entire B.L.U.E. cohort together from across the nation. Already, I have made friends with several of the other interns and had casual chats with them about politics, the state of the energy sector, and being a jazz pianist! If you had told me I’d be making friends from other states this summer, I would’ve likely called you crazy. Who makes interstate friends during a pandemic? But, thanks to Bri’s incredible efforts toward building a community of B.L.U.E. interns, I now have several new friends that I am convinced will change the world one day.
From a company perspective, I think McKinstry has done a fantastic job responding to client uncertainty with their Return with Confidence program. So much is still unknown when it comes to protecting people from COVID-19. Given this uncertainty, McKinstry has taken the initiative to thoughtfully advise clients on how changes to their outside air mixtures, AHU filter types, VAV settings, and so much more will impact the safety of their buildings during this new normal. Furthermore, McKinstry has been careful to follow the guidance of ASHRAE and encourage clients to only take steps that are proven to improve indoor safety. Where some companies might take advantage of this situation, McKinstry is doing its best to ensure its clients are as safe as possible – extending its culture of safety to those it serves. It makes me proud to work for a company that cares so deeply about supporting positive and safe change in the world.