Currently, I am entering my fifth year at the Colorado School of Mines, pursuing a major in mechanical engineering with minors in energy and public affairs. Having been born in Edmonds, Wash., I was quite shaken by the move to Colorado. The air is so much thinner, the flora is so much drier, and the people are so much more…outdoorsy. Beer is a really big thing here. Oceans are not. Even the Coloradan flag is more cheerful than its Washingtonian peer. Regardless, I found my place in Colorado riding bikes, researching fuel cells, leading Mines Sustainability, and camping in the Rocky Mountains whenever possible.[Read more…]
Did you know that the average American spends 85 percent of their time within a building?
As a result, building industry professionals and owners have started to realize that the built environment has direct and indirect effects on human wellness and productivity—even if occupants are often unaware.
Specifically, industry health and building experts from leading institutions are making it a priority to investigate the link between indoor environmental quality, cognitive function and decision-making performance.
One particular study, known as COGfx, placed 24 participants over the course of six full work days in an environmentally-controlled office space of fluctuating ventilation conditions—ranging from conventional office buildings to green buildings and green buildings with enhanced ventilation. Subsequently, the study yielded noteworthy results demonstrating:
- 101 percent higher cognitive performance scores in green buildings with enhanced ventilation
- An eight percent increase in employee decision-making performance equates to approximately $6,500 improved productivity each year
- A productivity increase that was 150 times greater than the resulting energy costs
With higher employee satisfaction, a substantial increase in productivity and minimal cost to the employer, the COGfx study has provided peer-reviewed evidence for the connection between sustainable building and occupant health.
Further, in an Urban Land Institute survey, 92 percent of respondents agreed or strongly agreed that health and wellness features in a real estate property can impact its market success and economic value.
Connecting studies to real-world results[Read more…]
The University of Northern Colorado (UNC) turned to McKinstry to identify energy-saving measures spanning 1.3 million square feet of campus space and 18 buildings on campus. The effort also included powerED, McKinstry’s behavior-focused energy management program, to boost their sustainability goals.
UNC leveraged powerED to challenge students, staff and faculty to take action in eliminating waste and reducing energy use. A steering committee of more than 25 students and staff assembled to guide the program, and members of UNC’s Green Team volunteered to lead various activities such as a carbon cube demonstration and building energy use tours. Much of the effort focused on demonstrating how small changes – such as turning off lights, unplugging unnecessary electronics, system improvements and conserving energy – can make a big difference.
More than 800 students and staff signed up for a People.Power.Planet account at UNC, checking off over 1,800 routine and 150 key actions to save energy. Through this effort and close collaboration with the facilities team and other departments, UNC has since reduced energy use by 25 percent campus-wide and avoided $1,335,000 in associated energy costs.
“We use more than a third less energy than an average school,” said Mark Korinek, director of operations services for the Carson City School District. “As a district, we recently reduced our Energy Use Intensity (EUI) from 46 to 41. The 46 EUI number last year, down from 49 in 2014, was really remarkable to begin with, but to see a decrease even from there is truly a testament to our retrofit project and McKinstry’s energy-awareness and behavioral change program called powerED.”
The powerED program engages students and staff across the district in energy, water and waste conservation efforts. The program promotes energy efficiency and how to eliminate waste within facilities, ultimately helping the district save money. Much of this effort is focused on demonstrating to students and staff how small changes—such as turning off lights, biking to school, recycling and composting, shutting off unused electronics and buying locally produced items—can make a difference in their lives every day.
Two hundred students, parents, teachers and school administrators from Carson City School District (CCSD) gathered at the Nevada Governor’s Mansion on May 24 to celebrate students taking part in McKinstry’s powerED program and Project ReCharge, a STEM-focused energy and sustainability curriculum program led by Envirolution.
CCSD hired McKinstry in May 2016 to conduct a comprehensive facility audit in search of energy savings. Dozens of potential improvements were identified, kicking off a $6.1 million contract spanning LED lighting retrofits, water conservation measures, heat pump replacements, improved HVAC systems and more.
McKinstry introduced powerED to CCSD students in October 2017. The program augments the district’s sustainability and STEM education initiatives by engaging students, staff and faculty in energy, water and waste conservation efforts. Ten CCSD schools are participating.