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Holiday Curtailment

By David Osborne

I am happy to report that Facilities Management wrapped up its 2013 calendar year with our third annual Holiday Curtailment exercise prior to the university's week-long holiday shutdown. Working with our campus partners, we performed room-by-room curtailment sweeps to ensure that all lighting was off and that thermostat temperature settings were at 55 degrees across campus. To help with this effort, departments throughout campus were given checklists as a reminder of the importance of the little steps each of us can take towards energy and environmental conservation. The exercise also gave FM an opportunity to familiarize ourselves with our customers' personal spaces and repair any maladjusted or malfunctioning devices.

As we reflected on those who helped us launch this annual effort, we also welcomed a number of new team members for their inaugural involvement. I am particularly happy that Tony Hollinger will have the chance this year to not only contribute personally, but also to see our combined teams in energy-saving action, as we start to find our curtailment stride.

The annual campus-wide curtailment sweeps have resulted  in savings of approximately $170,000 in energy expenses in just the past two years. The savings have not only added directly to American University's bottom line, but also contribute to our campus carbon neutrality goal. Careful planning, staff commitment, and quality assurance sweeps have led to improved participation and performance each year. I anticipate this trend to continue.

AU Dining Is Changing!

By David Courter

The transformation of American University's eatery options began last summer when a new dining services partner, ARAMARK Higher Education, was contracted.

In the fall, AU Dining introduced expanded seating in Terrace Dining Room; Argo Tea in Katzen Arts Center; and Bene Pizza and Pasta, Elevation Burger, Global Fresh, P.O.D. (Provisions on Demand ) Mini, and Freshii in Mary Graydon Center.

Spring semester will feature Starbucks (opening soon in the old McDonald's); a completely renovated Eagles Nest, featuring P.O.D. (Provisions on Demand) and Subway; and a Worry–Free Zone in TDR for patrons with dietary restrictions or preferences. 

These projects have been accomplished by a team of ARAMARK's architect (Gensler) and general contractor (rand* construction corporation), AU Planning & Project Management staff, and Facilities Management staff and contractors. Together, the team created the facilities for ARAMARK to bring improved dining options to the AU community.

Even bigger projects are coming soon. The Butler Pavilion "tunnel" will be transformed into a pedestrian-friendly Main Street, with new lighting, paving, and exterior finishes; and next summer will see the start of a multi-year renovation of the TDR kitchen. AU's capital projects at Tenley Campus and East Campus also will include food service and catering facilities.

AU Dining's goal is to provide quality dining services for all the AU community – students, faculty, staff, and guests.  AU Planning & Project Management and Facilities Management provide essential support to achieve that goal, but they also are important customers of AU Dining. Be sure to try the new dining options on campus, and if you have suggestions or new ideas, feel free to submit them to Auxiliary Services at auxiliary@american.edu.     

Three Eagles Bike Hundreds of Miles...

Posted on November 14, 2013 by Rachael Wolff in On the Quad

Emily Curley (far right) with two other Eagle bike riders.

Wake up at 6 a.m., bike dozens of miles up and down hills, and repeat for five days through four states.

That's what two CAS seniors and an employee in the Office of Sustainability did as they joined hundreds of cyclists who trekked 300-plus miles and raised more than $500,000 for environmental causes. Emily Curley, a Sustainability Coordinator, rode with Aliya Mejias and Becca Shapiro, a pair of Environmental Studies majors, September 21-25 for Climate Ride NY-DC 2013.

"We were just slap-happy the entire time," Shapiro said. "We spent half our energy laughing."

Commonly referred to as the "green conference on wheels," the event passed through the countryside of New Jersey, Pennsylvania, and Maryland before arriving on the front lawn of the U.S. Capitol. Proceeds benefitted more than 60 organizations advocating for sustainability, renewable energy, climate, public health, and bicycle riding.

Together, the trio raised nearly $10,000. Curley raised $3,025 for the Washington Area Bicyclist Association (WABA), League of American Bicyclists (LAB), and the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC-National Capitol Region). Mejias raised $3,225 for Grist, Environmental Working Group, Chesapeake Climate Action Network, and 350.org. Shapiro raised $3,073 for 350.org, Alliance for Climate Education, and National Parks Conservation Association.

Why They Rode

Although the trio shares a commitment to sustainability, each individual approached the issue from unique backgrounds.

Mejias, a native New Yorker, began her journey to protect the environment around the same time she started school. When she was 5, she was puzzled after her family told her they could not drink Hudson River water.

"I was just blown away by this concept that humans ruined the water," she said. "It connects with the human interaction with nature and how we have this responsibility to protect it."

Mejias is active with Eco-Sense, Food and Water Watch, and the Alternative Breaks program and knew Shapiro from classes they took together. Shapiro knew Curley because she was a Green Eagle in the Office of Sustainability in 2011-12, a department Mejias also is familiar with.

Curley, who graduated from AU in May with a Masters in Global Environmental Policy, and Mejias both passed through their hometowns during the ride. Curley hails from Lancaster, Penn. and Mejias is from Suffern, N.Y.

"It kind of struck me that day [I rode through Lancaster], this beauty, this community, culture of this place, is something I really want to be around in a hundred years," Curley said. "That is kind of the place I think about, and seize on, and that brings it home for me – literally."

Shapiro  is from Highland Park, Ill., and works for the Audubon Natural Society, which provides environmental education and advocates on behalf of clean water, rural lands, and smart transportation in the D.C.-Metro area. Though she can't peg one specific moment as her favorite, Shapiro says she felt a sense of calmness during the ride.

"We were riding through these very beautiful places," she said. "The whole time, I was just like…'Oh my God, this is why I'm here.' That's why I rode, just because of nature."

A Test of Character

After a summer of biking down back roads and suburbia, Climate Ride proved to be a real test of the spirits. Each day the trio covered anywhere between 45 and 69 miles. Riding in a group provided much needed encouragement, but it wasn't a cure-all to the bumps that arise after spending eight or nine hours pedaling on the road.

The ladies admitted the struggle was both physical and emotional. Curley's biggest challenge was encountering flat tires on the hilliest days of the ride. Shapiro rode the whole course on a mountain bike. Mejias fell on some rusty barbed wire on day two and suffered a scar that started at her elbow and went up her arm.

Despite the obstacles, the trio was all smiles and giggles as they complained about the difficulty of the bike ride. They explained their motto, "nothing is permanent," got them up many hills.

That attitude gave them the peace of mind to enjoy the beauty of their surroundings, which included sunrises, horse and buggies in Amish towns, wooded areas, and sunsets.

Each evening, the girls would set up camp, shower, and relax. Indulging in lots of snacks, as well as vegetarian, gluten-free and meat options, the girls "ate like queens." They also enjoyed Climate Ride's speakers, who were leading advocates, conservationists, and scholars in the field.

By 9:30 p.m. every night the girls were in bed and ready to do everything all over again the next day.

Finishing Strong

The large pack of riders slowed down for the last three miles as they made their grand entrance into D.C. Honking, cheering, and police escorts welcomed the riders who ranged in age from 17 to 74 years old.

"You get a bike! Everyone, get a bike!" The group yelled, as it passed lines of traffic stopped on Constitution Avenue.

The following day, Curley subjected herself to "one more scary thing at the end of a longer scary thing" – lobbying Congress.

She joined other Climate Riders who voiced their opinions on environmental concerns. Facing her Pennsylvania senators was daunting, but it was one part of the entire endeavor that affected her most.

"It's really empowering for Congress to get my message, as well as all the things they probably hear on a daily basis," Curley said. "So, I also hope to carry forward the more civic activism, especially locally."

Shapiro also will carry the Climate Ride experience with her. One biker encouraged her to "push yourself as far as you can go, because you really just don't know what your body can do."

"I think that's what I'll take out of it the most," Shapiro said. "Just the physical challenge and getting through [it] and still being sane."

Mejias recommended bike riding as the ideal mode of transportation.

"It's the most efficient way to move yourself," she said. "I love it so much, because I hate walking!"

AU is Going to the Dogs!

By Stephanie DeStefano

Stephanie DeStefano's dog Bandit.

Boscoe Finds the Answer

When times get tough, it's time to call in the dogs! Facilities had the opportunity to do just this recently when American University faced a challenging bedbug issue in one of the resident halls. While there have not been any bedbug issues in the past few years, last month the university's luck ran out in two dorm rooms.  

AU always has implemented an integrated pest management (IPM) approach towards pest control. IPM involves a holistic approach to resolve the issue in a safe and effective manner. Pesticides are AU's last choice, so the university's pest control contractor treated the two affected rooms using the heat treatment method. This involved heating the rooms to about 125 degrees Fahrenheit, and maintaining that temperature for at least two hours. This treatment method generally has a high rate of control and typically kills all bedbugs and eggs in the space in just one treatment. Working very closely with Housing, the treatment went as planned and the problem was assumed to have been resolved. Just two days later, a student in one of the rooms experienced new bites.

How could this happen? The contractor assured Facilities that the heating process had been monitored closely throughout the treatment and that they had never had a failure. After a thorough inspection of the room and a lengthy meeting with the three occupants of the room, it was discovered that some clothing and personal items were removed from the room prior to treatment and brought back  after treatment. After much discussion, the pest control contractor recommended hiring a K-9 bed bug detection specialist.

That is when Boscoe, a four-year old beagle arrived at Stephanie Destefano's  office with his handler. Boscoe then went to work in the two affected rooms. The first room had not reported any further bites, but Bosco rechecked the room and confirmed that all was clear. However, within minutes of arriving at the second room, Boscoe identified bugs in a backpack and pile of clothes right next to one of the beds by pawing at them repeatedly. He found no other issues in the room.  The items then were placed in a large plastic bag and sealed tightly. The students were instructed to take them straight to the dryer and run it on high heat for 30 minutes, then wash and dry them again. The pest control contractor did a localized spot treatment of just the bed and frame. No further issues have been reported since.

Destafano commented, "Leave it to a dog to do what no human or machine can do!  I was so  impressed with Boscoe. I could also tell that he truly enjoys his job, as his tail was wagging the entire time. He got quite a few treats for a job well done."

Bandit Meets the AU Community

As the owner of a well-mannered 90-pound boxer mix named Bandit, Stephanie Destafano decided that there must be something she and her dog could do together to help others. At the time, Destafano's mother was in an assisted-living facility so she decided to make her visits more enjoyable by taking Bandit along. Her mother always loved animals and was not able to have one herself anymore, so she was thrilled when Destefano showed up with her pup.

Destefano recalls, "It did take a little while to make my way to my mother's room, as the receptionist at the desk and other patients, staff, and visitors all greeted us with a smile and wanted to pat Bandit."

After several more successful visits, Destafano decided to look into getting Bandit a volunteer job in pet therapy. After some research, she came across a DC non-profit organization called PAL. She contacted them and registered for an interview and evaluation at the Soldiers and Airman's Home where the organization does most of its evaluation and training sessions. All went well and after a bit more training, Destefano and Bandit began attending regular group visits.

PAL has been active for the past 30 years and has countless opportunities for volunteers to bring smiles to the faces of people who could use the special love only a canine can provide. Visit sites include many nursing homes, hospitals, schools, and even libraries to assist with reading programs.

This past spring, the PAL dogs were invited to a de-stressing day during mid-term time at American University. Students gathered on the quad to visit with the PAL dogs for several hours and many commented that every day should be dog day at AU and told stories about how much they missed their dog at home and how it made their day to visit with the dogs.  Towards the end of the day, Bandit had a system down to deal with the large crowds. A group of 10 students sat in a circle around him and he went from person to person giving each one a lick on the face. A great time was had by all, and both Destafano and Bandit look forward to continuing this very rewarding service to the community.

Employee Spotlight On John Mayhan

By Mike Mastrota


John Mayhan, Space Management Analyst

With more than 3.7 million gross-square feet of space under roof, American University has made a significant investment in providing space for students, faculty, and staff to live, learn, teach, and work on campus. Keeping track of each square foot of building space and how that space is being used falls to John Mayhan.

When John saw AU’s employment ad for a Space Management Analyst in The Washington Post 12 years ago, it seemed like a job that would be a perfect fit where he could combine all of his various previous work experiences. John had an extensive background in computer programming where he designed automation and inventory systems for a hazardous waste management facility.  Later, as an MIS director for a Capitol Hill event management company, he developed a task and resource management system. Even today, John takes great pride in knowing that those systems are still up and running. 

Growing up, John was a “navy brat” at Boling Air Force Base in Washington, DC. While he has fond memories of his childhood here, he was never in one place for too long, as soon it was time to move again. Among the many places John’s lived, the Philippines was the most memorable. Along with the beautiful blue skies, palm trees, and sunny beaches, John remembers his first experience in a typhoon and an earthquake. Recalling his mom’s recollection of the night of the earthquake, “She woke up, turned to my father and said ‘Why are you shaking the bed?’ He woke up and said ‘What?’ That’s when they both noticed all the furniture in the room was moving around, including the bed.” From the Phillipines, John’s family moved to Sacramento, CA, eventually breaking the tether to his father’s various military location assignments and settling in Pennsylvania.

In high school, John received training and gained experience in drafting and design. He went to college for Electronics Engineering in Harrisburg, PA, and registered as a transfer student to Penn State University. While in college, John held a part-time job as a dietary aid at a local hospital, and studied computer programming in his spare time. As a part-time employee and student, John just barely got by paying his rent and tuition. Just months away from his transfer to Penn State, he found an opportunity to join a small fast-growing rental company with future opportunities in technical services and corporate management that was too irresistible to pass up. John recalls after reading the ad, “I remember imagining all my debts floating away on a cloud and finally getting my car fixed.”

John eventually got the job.  During his 16-year tenure at the rental company, he received management training and valuable learning experiences.

It was a love interest that eventually brought John back to Maryland. Later, an opportunity to work at a university in DC brought him to AU. It was John’s specific skill sets that were made him an ideal fit for the Space Management Analyst position. Initially, John thought he might stay a few years and then move onto something else. However, he has grown to love working in a university setting and now he cannot imagine being anywhere else.

As the university “space man,” John provides services that are unique to AU. He considers the electronic Floor Plan Book, the development of the Space Inventory Management System (SIMS), along with several other space management systems that help administrators and planners make informed decisions about university space to be among his greatest accomplishments at AU. 

John also works with AU’s Office of Information Technology on a Business Intelligence initiative which is tasked to create a central information system for space utilization across campus. The data collected from this system helps assess current use and planning for future needs.

As a member of  Staff Council, John serves as a liaison for  Facilities Management. Through Staff Council, John has met a lot of people throughout AU and has participated on many issues that affect the staff. He encourages others to consider running for Staff Council and participating in its activities (more at American.edu/staffcouncil).

When away from AU, you can find John renovating his home in Capital Heights. He recently added solar panels to the roof and hopes to continue to make his home more "green." He is active in his church, where he is a trustee, and enjoys teaching young children during Sunday school each week. If he has any free time after all of that, he enjoys taking long walks; cooking – especially Italian, Spanish, Chinese, and occasionally Creole cuisine; playing chess; woodworking; and pottery.

Director's Corner - Facilities Operations

By Tony Hollinger

Tony Hollinger - Director, Facilities Operations

Having only been a member of the American University team as Director of Facilities Management/Operations for less than nine months, it is motivating for me to see the amount of collaboration that takes place during this period’s high level of campus activity. It already has shown me AU’s earnest desire to achieve and maintain an “A-rating” for campus-wide operations management.

Awareness of this “A” performance goal is made evident not only by the “cared for” condition of existing facilities, grounds and campus programs, but also by efforts to elevate AU to the operating mindset and capabilities that will fulfill the vision stated in the Strategic Plan 2009 and presented conceptually in Campus Plan 2011 - Leadership for a Changing World.

Both the vision document and concept level plan are accessible to us all, and they set goals that will require the best contributions from all current and future members of the campus community family. This article briefly shares my thoughts about a specific and critical type of contribution needed – the effective leveraging of technology to enhance campus operations management.

My daily campus activities of planning and directing have shown me that AU has invested in providing the assets and opportunities to deliver on this critical contribution, and I know that Facilities Operations works to deliver a return on this investment every day.

During the past decade, AU has invested in designing and building a Facilities Operations Integrated Work Management System (IWMS) with a core objective of enabling computerized facilities maintenance management. The foundation of AU’s integrated work management system is the AiM technology platform from the Assetworks company.

The AiM platform is the engine of FM’s customer service management system – 2Fix - which is vital to the planning and delivery of daily facilities operations and maintenance (OandM) services. The 2Fix system has served AU well, and has the capacity to drive even better service.  Achieving better 2Fix service depends in large part on the campus community’s (especially the FM Team’s) commitment to understand the technology platform’s usage requirements for highly successful facilities operations.

The FM Team is making a concerted effort to deepen our knowledge of AU’s AiM/2Fix system capabilities, so we can better articulate the requirements to leverage this system.  One example of this effort is our active project to implement “AiM Mobile.” This system capability enables mobile, electronic downloading of information related to daily corrective work assignments and time card management, preventive maintenance tasks, and inventory transactions. This also would enable the more efficient uploading of information for faster and better follow-on work and budget management. The AiM Mobile implementation will begin the end of January.

FM is works closely with the Office of Information Technology (OIT) to not only successfully execute this “AiM Mobile” project, but also to ensure that there is a shared commitment between our groups to better understand and leverage the multiple ways technology can be used sensibly to improve facilities operations management.

This last point is especially important as AU’s facilities assets and programming increase in volume and operating complexity, because the key to most effectively leveraging technology’s use in operations management campus-wide will remain effective communication between people within and between campus operating units.  

All the Things We Used to Throw Away

By Helen Lee and Maria Lopez

In 2013, the District Department of the Environment, Office of Recycling reported that 10 million tons of waste is produced in DC alone each year. To put this in perspective, 10 million tons of waste equates to almost $700 million dollars if we were to solely landfill this waste. In an attempt to reduce American University's footprint, President Kerwin adopted the Zero Waste Policy in 2010, committing AU to strive to send zero waste to landfills and incinerators by 2020.

This past semester, Facilities Management partnered closely with various departments across campus to implement organic waste collection to compost off site. The program has been successful so far, capturing almost 200 additional tons of organic waste diverted from landfills since its implementation. However, what else can be done to save the university more money and recover resources from materials that are thrown away?

As  Tenley, McKinley, as well as other smaller spaces on campus have been cleared out for construction and renovation, it has become even more apparent that there is a strong need to recover the value of furniture and other durable surplus goods from campus. During this time, university architects have requested assistance from Facilities for the donation and recycling of discarded materials. Facilities has partnered with different organizations including University of Maryland, College Park and IRN to donate, salvage, reuse, or recycle surplus furniture. Steel and metal pieces like bookcases and filing cabinets were sent to a local scrap metal recycling company for salvage and rebates.

Across our nation, there are many universities that have surplus stores or online auction platforms to recover money back from surplus items like furniture. Unfortunately, space is incredibly limited on the AU campus, restricting the ability to store these pieces until there is a need to fill them. Space is a needed key in expanding the surplus programs on campus because of the short window of time for when furniture/surplus must be removed and relocated. Without these programs, there often is more cost in disposing furniture – labor, transportation, haul and return, and landfill fees.

What about other surplus products from campus? Many departments now toss out hanging file folders, outdated printer toners, Rolodex pins, and other office supplies made obsolete by new technologies. What can be done to limit these materials from going to landfill and yet bring the university savings back? As the university works to finalize the campus-wide container replacement efforts, new methods will be considered to improve the surplus program. Despite the challenges, it is expected that new, efficient ways will be discovered to capture the durable goods stream (which also is an effort that supports sustainability commitments like LEED Volume) and importantly, save the university money. 

Smoke-Free Campus Update

By Mark Feist

AU Tobacco and Smoke Free

Prior to the holiday break on December 23, 2013, American University fully implemented the tobacco- and smoke-free policy by removing the three smoking transition areas. Campus is now a tobacco- and smoke-free zone. AU's tobacco- and smoke-free policy prohibits the use of tobacco products and medical marijuana on property owned, leased, or otherwise controlled or operated by the university including campus owned, leased, or rented vehicles. The policy applies to faculty, staff, students, vendors, guests, and contractors. 

Fall Staff Council Luncheon Recap

By Celina Ryan

President Kerwin speaking at the Staff Council Fall Luncheon.

On November 6, more than 425 American University staff packed Mary Graydon Center Rooms 3-5 for the Staff Council Fall Luncheon. The event was filled with excellent food, fun, and great campus updates. Due to the enormous turnout, the Staff Council is searching for a bigger space to host the event next year! Results from the 2013-2014 Staff Council Survey also were unveiled to the attendees.

A brief recap of the results:

  • Of the more than 500 staffers who participated in the survey, 61 percent said that they would like to see the Council perform more staff community building activities and events; 35 percent of respondents noted that they wanted the Council to take on new staff welcomes and community introductions; and 35 percent noted that they wanted the Council to create open forums for staff members.
  • 54 percent of respondents would like to see Staff Council offer more information sessions on issues concerning staff; and 44 percent noted that they would like the Council to offer more educational opportunities.
  • 39 percent of respondents cited the Staff Council's Fall Luncheon as their favorite university-related activity; while 37.4 percent cited its service activities.
  • Breakout groups at the luncheon determined that the Council's biggest priorities should be to arrange for days of service (Christmas gift-wrapping, Campus Beautification Day), and also provide more information about major life events and how they relate to staff (emergency childcare, tuition remission alternatives).

Staff Council will continue taking a closer look at the results from the survey and the suggestions offered during the World Café-style discussion at the luncheon. Staff Council's goal is to work on creating an action plan. The Council also looks forward to continuing the conversation at a Staff Council Town Hall session in spring 2014. More information will come soon.

Arboretum Luncheon and All-American Weekend Round-Up

By Mike Mastrota

View of amphitheater.

Arboretum Annual Luncheon

American University's arboretum and gardens hosted a capacity crowd for its sixth annual luncheon for the Friends of the Arboretum group. This year's celebration took place on November 13 and was held in the Founder's Room of the School of International Service. AU Facilities staff worked with the Office of Development and Special Events to provide a memorable occasion for the attendees.

This year marks the 10-year anniversary of the arboretum, and a presentation was made that focused on before and after images of the campus. The reaction from the audience was proof that the campus appearance has improved vastly during this time. Treasurer and CFO, Don Myers, was presented with a gift for his leadership and vision to make these changes happen.

The event ended with a presentation by keynote speaker Cynthia Brown from the Smithsonian Gardens. Cindy shared her passion for including edible plants in the garden. She cited many unique examples and ways edible plants can be attractive and delicious additions to a landscape.

All-American Weekend Tours are a Success

This year marked the fourth consecutive year that Facilities staff provided arboretum tours during All-American Weekend.  This year, more than 100 parents, alumni, and visitors toured the campus arboretum as a part of the weekend activities. Three tours were held throughout the day on Friday and each was well attended by engaged guests who had traveled from all areas of the United States and Puerto Rico.  Here is a sample of the interesting facts that were shared with each group:

  • The Arboretum features edible plants in the gardens that are available for students, faculty, and staff to harvest.
  • The McKinley Building will add another green roof to the AU campus, bringing the total to nine, which is the most of any university in the city.
  • AU's arboretum has more than 2,500 trees and in excess of 130 different plant species.

From the responses of those who attended the tours, it is evident that the appearance of the campus plays a significant role in parents and students selecting AU as the place to further their education. Repeatedly, we heard that the beauty and open campus feel of AU, combined with all of the benefits of being in the nation's capital, sets AU apart from the competition.

Staff Recognition

Josh Kaplan was promoted to Sustainability Coordinator.

Welcome Aboard

Leopoldo Tejada, Zone A HVAC Technician

Jose Obando, Zone A Plumber


Jerry Gager, OUA

Pietro Bruno, Building Maintenance Operations

Ki Deuk Kim, Central Plant Operations


Emily Curley, Sustainability Manager

Joshua Kaplan, Sustainability Coordinator

Ransom Schutt, Sports Turf Supervisor

Honorable Mentions

Andrew Ortega, Master Automobile Technician

LEED Certification – Green Associate

Onyel Bhola

Sean Cullinane

Joshua Kaplan

Helen Lee

Jessica Lubell

CJ Lucas

Claude Perera

Mike Wozney

LEED Certification – Accredited Professional

Tom Argasinski (BD+C)

Tam Bui (O+M)

Emily Curley (O+M)

Yaming Ji (ID+C)

Michael Purcell (BD+C)

Josey Schwartz (BD+C)

Roxanne Wallace