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The Facilities Visionary

Campus Beautification Day 2014

By Mark Feist

Campus Beautification Day Volunteers

Did you know that Campus Beautification Day (CBD) planning starts in the middle of winter? As a matter of fact, the CBD Team begins to meet in early January with a work group comprising Mark Feist and Katherine Kirlin as co-chairs and representatives from American University staff, students, and faculty. Details such as barbeque menu, T-shirt design, activity sites, special guests and speakers, as well as green partners such as Casey Tree and The Cherry Blossom Festival are determined. The date also is set well in advance and always falls the Tuesday before Freshman Day (Wednesday, if it rains).

In the true spirit of CBD, we enhanced relationships between faculty, staff, and students through cooperation and team building, as once again the day was spent beautifying the campus. This year, more than 350 volunteers participated in spreading 240 cubic yards of mulch and planting 220 trees, shrubs, and ground covers, as well as 3,800 perennials and grasses.

So next winter, when snow is falling and temperatures fall below freezing take heart in knowing that there will be a group already planning for spring to arrive on campus... we call it Campus Beautification Day.

AU Addressing Parking Demands During East Campus Development

By Mike Mastrota

Nebraska Parking lot

Recently, American University bid farewell to its eight-acre, 900-space Nebraska Avenue Parking lot to make way for the new East Campus project. While the East Campus construction will displace 904 parking spaces, the SIS and Katzen parking garages will absorb the shortages, as commuting students may now park in the bottom levels of both garages. It is anticipated that even with the addition of these displaced vehicles, the Katzen and SIS parking garages will only reach 85 percent capacity. Additional parking also will be available on the upper level of the Sports Center garage.

The Office of Public Safety also has established a Parking Task Force whose goal is to make recommendations to help alleviate parking concerns during construction and peak hours while classes are in session. Recent parking demand studies identify peak parking demand to be between Tuesday and Thursday at 3 p.m., as this is when daily operations still are under way and commuters for evening classes begin to arrive on campus. Recommendations by the Task Force that are under consideration include the issuance by Public Safety of new window decals, and the capability for departments to reserve parking spaces for their guests on a first-come, first-serve basis through the online R-25 system, which currently reserves rooms throughout campus. Additionally, the Task Force supports the university’s longtime recommendations to encourage the use of public transportation, carpooling, and telecommuting, where possible.

As the fall semester approaches and students begin to move into campus, it is expected that there will be periods of high traffic and high parking demand. During these times, alternate forms of transportation will be encouraged to alleviate congestion and demand.

Employee Spotlight On Eddy Peng

By Celina Ryan

Eddy Peng

Since arriving at AU in 2003, Eddy Peng has been growing the Building Automation and Energy Management department steadily. When he started 11 years ago, the department consisted of just Eddy and one other staff member. Now a team of five (Yaming Ji, Dennis Smith, Toan Le, Thanh Bui and Eddy Peng), Eddy is proud to say that everyone is willing to learn and help each other out. “No matter the condition, we work well together,” Peng said.

The Building Automation and Energy Management staff is vital to Facilities Management's ability to provide constant monitoring and modifications of the University's energy using systems and equipment, which allows for quick diagnosis and response to customer heating, cooling, and ventilation needs. Peng has been able to grow the team by taking on more projects in-house. Previously building automation type of work was done primarily by contractors. However, Eddy and his group gradually became better equipped to handle the work and were able to monitor the contractors who were needed.

Eddy’s favorite part of the job is the ability to keep up with the cutting edge in energy technology. The latest technical integration at AU is BACNET- A Data Communication Protocol for Building Automation and Control Networks. “It’s an open application that enables us to communicate with multiple providers. We are no longer locked in to only using the Siemens’ system – that’s exciting,” Peng said.

Two projects currently in the works for the EMS team include achieving compliance with the DC Government’s Energy Star Portfolio Manager and LEED certification. The Energy Start Portfolio Manager regulations require AU to benchmark electrical, water and gas standards for buildings bigger than 50,000 sq. ft. In terms of LEED certification “at AU, that means 25 buildings are being analyzed to see if they meet the certification criteria,” Peng said.

When Eddy leaves AU at the end of the day, his favorite pastime is to be with his wife, 12-year old daughter, and family friends. “There are seven families in our circle. We have a tradition where our families get together every other week and rotate hosting and cooking meals. You have the sense of running out of time, and these are the people who are really important in my life,” Peng said. His favorite dish? “More like any and all dishes,” he laughed.

Staff Appreciation 2014 - A Zero Waste Event

By Celina Ryan

Staff Appreciation Goes Green Than Ever - Orange Organic Waste Bins

Once again this year, American University celebrated the contributions of its staff during Staff Appreciation Week, May 19-22, featuring four days full of events, activities, and festivities. The week was capped off with the annual barbeque on the Quad. Thanks in great part to the hard work of Facilities Management, this year’s event was a nearly zero-waste event. Members of the FM staff placed containers marked for recyclable and compostable waste throughout the quad to ensure that everyone who attended the barbeque would separate the waste they generated – used spoons, forks, plates, leftover food, etc. – by category. The waste collection at the barbeque served as an example for how one of the largest annual, on-campus events could be managed in such a way that nearly all of the waste it generated could be kept out of landfills.

Zero Waste Coordinator Helen Lee said, “Putting together a zero waste event is a collaborative effort. An event as large as the staff barbeque with a shared goal of sustainability would not have been possible without the dedicated efforts of everyone involved – Facilities Management, the Office of the President, Special Events, local caterers, and everyone who attended.”

Thank you to all of the FM staff for their assistance throughout Staff Appreciation Week, as well as for their efforts towards helping American University achieve its goal to send zero waste to landfill and incineration by 2020.

What's Behind That Flick of a Switch?

By George Merchant

light switch

From turning the lights on in the office to recharging our cell phones, American University's electric power supply is a utility that's taken for granted as a routine and necessary part of our daily lives. Yet few of us are aware of where our electricity comes from or how it's managed. Here are some little-known facts about the university's power supply:

  • AU is powered by our own 13,200-volt distribution system. The system, which supplies electricity to the entire main campus, consists of three circuit feeders supplied by PEPCO.
  • The three circuit feeders allow the university to function without service interruption in the event of a power outage, as normal operations can be maintained with two feeders. Even in the unlikely event of an outage resulting in two feeders being down, most operations would still be able to continue on one feeder, although there may be usage limits.
  • On an average day, the entire campus only uses about 80 amps of power at 13,200 volts on each feeder - about 50% percent of the power available. Energy usage during winter time reaches a low of about 45 amps, and a summer high of about 140 amps.
  • The university maintains its own transformers and switches. Some of the switches actually weigh more than a car.
  • The 13,200 volt distribution system supplies power through switches, cables and transformers, and directs electricity to buildings throughout campus at the appropriate power levels for each.
  • Most switches, transformers and cabling are placed underground for reliability and safety, as well as, to keep it out of sight.

Great effort is made to keep the university's maintenance of its electric supply system seamless and mostly unseen. In large measure, its reliability is attributed to the Facilities Management staff whose job it is to keep a watchful eye on electricity usage as well as the conditions of the equipment. The sensitive equipment is inspected and cleaned routinely to prevent breakdowns that could result from merely high humidity and dust. Also largely unnoticed are the timely upgrades, modifications, and replacements of the electrical distribution system as equipment nears the end of its useful life. In fact, currently there are pending projects to replace transformers and switches in Mary Graydon Center, Ward Circle, Beeghly, and Anderson/Centennial buildings.

So the next time you turn on a light or even your computer, be sure to remember all that goes into making that simple convenience possible – from the massive electrical power supply equipment to the massive efforts of your Facilities co-workers.

AU Summer Shuttle Schedule

By Mark Feist

American University shuttle bus

Facility Operations has switched now to summer hours (see schedule below), and now you can get a "minute-by-minute" schedule for summer our website. The schedule is designed to help faculty, staff, students and visitors better determine when the AU shuttle will arrive and depart at the various stops. The shuttle web site also features streeteagletransit, AU’s real-time shuttle tracking system.

By August 1, our fall "minute-by-minute" schedule also will be published.

Blue Route

Hours of Operation
Monday - Friday

10-minute intervals from 6:30 a.m. to 10:30 a.m.

15-minute intervals from 10:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m.

10 –minute intervals from 3:30 p.m. to 6:30 p.m.

After 6:30 PM Service will resume on White route (Superloop)

First bus leaves Metro at 6:25 a.m.

First bus leaves South Campus at 6:15 a.m.

Red Route

Hours of Operation
Monday - Friday

30-minute intervals from 7:15 a.m. to 8:15 a.m.

15minute intervals from 8:15 a.m. to 10:00 a.m.

30-minute intervals from 10 a.m. to 3:45 p.m.

15-minute intervals from 3:45 p.m. to 6:30 p.m.

After 6:30 p.m. Service will resume on White route (Superloop)

First bus leaves Metro at 7:15 a.m.

First bus leaves WCL at 7:30 a.m.

SUPER loop

Hours of Operation
During spring/fall breaks and throughout summer session:

Monday-Friday, 7 AM- 6:30 PM. see Red and Blue Route schedules

Monday - Thursday, 6:30 PM – 12:00 AM

Friday, 6:30 PM - 3:30 AM

Saturday, 8 AM - 3:30 AM

Sunday, 8 AM – 12:30 AM

15-minute intervals during all White Route (Superloop) operating hours

Sunday - Thursday Last bus leaves WCL via main campus to Metro at 12 a.m.; last bus leaves Metro at 12:30 a.m.

Friday & Saturday Last bus from WCL via main campus to Metro leaves at 12: a.m.; last bus leaves Metro at 3 a.m.

Please Note there is NO services to WCL After 12:00AM

Student Move Out

By Helen Lee

Every year, students leave behind tons of usable materials including working refrigerators unopened food and toiletries, and bags of clothes during move-out. To reduce AU’s waste sent to landfills and save the university money, Facilities partners with ARAMARK Housekeeping, Housing & Dining Programs, RHA, and the Office of Sustainability to put together Project Move-Out. This year, during the move-out period at the end of the spring semester, containers were set out to collect left-behind items for donation. Containers were set up on each floor of the residence halls near the elevators to collect clothes, shoes, and other textiles including bedding, towels, linen, and tapestries. The items were sent to Community Recycling who donate, sell, reuse, or recycle the textiles, and rebate the campus a small percentage of the proceeds. Boxes also were organized in kitchen and lounge spaces to collect kitchen items such as pots, pans, dishes, cups, and utensils. These items were donated to A Wider Circle, a non-profit organization founded by an AU alum, that helps homeless people in transition homes. Unopened, non-perishable food and toiletry items also were collected and donated to Capital Area Food Bank. Books were collected on the first-floor lobbies of the residence halls to benefit the AU Study Abroad Program. The team also sent out tips to residents in the halls to pack up stuff in advance, store on campus if they planned to return, or sell/exchange items using online resources such as AU Free & For Sale Facebook Group, CraigsList, Ebay, and Amazon. Facilities would like to applaud AU’s Recycling Crew and ARAMARK Housekeeping for doing a wonderful job during move-out and helping the university get closer to its zero waste goals.

Students Find Simple Way to Save AU Water and Money

By Ravi Raman and Emily Curley

Student Water Savings

Recently, academic research, an on-campus service project, and Earth Month coincided to introduce an innovative new method for water conservation that promotes sustainability and financial savings for American University.

The innovation—to adjust the flow rate of water fixtures on campus—originated from Kiho Kim’s University College Sustainable Earth class and Vicky Kiechel’s Sustainable Design class, both of which were investigating opportunities for saving water on campus.

As part of their studies, students in the classes measured the flow rate of water fixtures on campus and realized that AU could be more efficient with its water use. They shared their findings with Office of Sustainability staff members who then calculated the amount of water and money that could be saved based on the current flow rate and the usage of each sink at the university.

A Savings of 77 Percent

Seeing the quick payback, Facilities Management (FM) jumped on the project to improve the university’s efficient and economical use of water. FM also consulted with Aaron Schreiber-Stainthorp, a graduate student in Kogod’s MSSM program studying sustainable purchasing to figure out how best to address the issue of excessive water flow rate.

Schreiber-Stainthorp noted the real-world learning taking place, saying, “It felt great to be able to translate academic learning into a project that made a difference to improve sustainability on campus that you can see every time you wash your hands.”The solution was to replace existing 2.2 gpm (gallons per minute) aerators in faucets throughout the university with low-flow 0.5 gpm aerators. Aerators, found on the tip of a faucet, add air to a faucet’s water stream. The switch would result in a 77 percent savings of water per faucet. Given the savings in water usage as well as its long-term financial savings implications, Facilities Management made the investment to buy new, more efficient aerators for the entire university.

Enough Water to Fill AU’s Swimming Pools

Once the aerators were purchased, two Facilities Management technicians, Walter Poist and Janelle Freeman, trained a group of student volunteers on how to replace the aerators. The students, armed with floor plans, wrenches, and new aerators, spent the morning of Friday, April 18 swapping out the aerators of nearly every faucet at the university.

Vin Harkins, assistant vice president of Facilities Management commented, "Appropriately occurring during Earth [Month], a unique and creative solution to conserve water on campus helped fortify American University's commitment to sustainability and efficiency. It was an impressive effort of collaboration between our students, faculty, and staff. The projected savings to the university was simply an added bonus."

It is estimated that once all the aerators are replaced, the university will save 570,000 gallons of water—enough to fill AU’s swimming pools—and almost $10,000 per year.

The replacement effort, a part of AU’s Earth Month initiatives, also addresses AU’s LEED initiatives, as water efficiency is a prerequisite for the LEED certification of the university’s buildings.

Summer Heat Safety Tips

By Leanne Wright


Work smarter this summer. Here's how:

Drink fluids

Drink water (5-7 oz.) every 15 minutes, even if you aren’t thirsty. In hazardous heat situations, the body loses water faster than the brain can induce thirst. Avoid caffeine and alcohol 24 hours before and during exposure to elevated heat.

Replace salts and minerals

Salt is excreted from the body when you sweat. For your body to continue important processes, small amounts of salts and minerals should be consumed. Mix a small amount of sports drink or juice into your water or eat a light snack. Undiluted sports drinks typically provide much more salt and/or sugar than your body needs.

Wear appropriate clothing and sunscreen

Wear a hat and light colored clothing. Clothing should cover as much skin as possible, including arms, legs, and neck. Sunscreen with an SPF of 30 or above should be applied throughout the day to uncovered skin, such as the hands and nose.

Pace and acclimate yourself

Until your body has had ample time to adjust to working in a hot environment, keep your work load light and take frequent breaks. Slowly increase the intensity of your work as you are able. Stop all activity and rest immediately if you start feeling lightheaded, weak, or faint. Acclimation can take up to 14 days, so be patient while your body adjusts to the new demands.

Take breaks in the shade

Shade provides shelter away from the excess heat that the sun radiates onto the skin. During work breaks, remove yourself from direct sun exposure to allow your skin an opportunity to cool.

Staff Recognition

GM Staff

Marcus Zito (left), new Irrigation Technician, with Grounds Maintenance colleague Adenbi Bouzhar (right).

Welcome Aboard

Eder Granados, CRDM Project Coordinator

Spencer James, Zone D Electrician

Revely Seaton, Operating Engineer First Class

Marcus Zito, Irrigation Technician 


Johnny Costantino, Central Plant Operations

Mike Griffin, CRDM



Emily Curley, Office of Sustainability 

On-The-Spot Award Winners

Leon Nixon, Grounds Maintenance

Jaime Mendoza, Building Maintenance Operations

Shaun Pressley, Building Maintenance Operations

Janelle Freeman, Building Maintenance Operations

Eyob Kassaye, Shuttle Services

Wendy Cunningham, Facilities Administration

Linay Foreman, Facilities Administration

Akisha Carter, Finance Resource Center

Robert Sam, Grounds Maintenance