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How American University’s Energy & Engineering Team Spent Its Summer

Members of the Energy and Engineering team, with Clawed

As summer begins to wrap up, American University’s Energy & Engineering team reflects on the recent opportunities it has had to engage with staff and students. Though this team spends much of its time tracking trends in energy usage, implementing energy efficiency programs, and analyzing utility data, it had the opportunity for face-to-face engagement with staff and students this summer.

In June, two team members participated in Staff Con, an annual full-day conference hosted by and for staff at AU. Juan Allen, Energy Conservation and Efficiency Manager, and Courtney Chinn, Utilities Outreach Program Leader, delivered a presentation on Lucid BuildingOS.

Lucid is a software platform that displays individual building electric, gas, and water use, including annual trends and building-to-building comparisons.

The presentation, entitled “Lucid BuildingOS: Partnerships between Facilities Management & Students,” included an overview of the winter curtailment that Facilities Management oversees each year, examples of undergraduate and graduate students utilizing the platform for academic research, and screenshots of water usage in residence halls.

Attendees were encouraged to look at examples of heat maps, which are graph depictions of energy use intensity, and guess – based on the hours of use – whether it was a residence hall or office. Residence halls were green during the morning, using the least energy, and orange-red in the later evening, when the most energy was used. These trends follow a typical student’s schedule of going to class during the day and being online late at night.

During Staff Appreciation Week, the staff award for Service to the AU Community was presented to David Osborne, Director of Energy and Engineering, and Gordon Shaeffer, Senior Electrician. Anthony Williams, Facilities Finance Director, also received the award. They were selected for their quick action in responding to a September 2018 fire and power outage that resulted from an unexpectant failure in a transformer. The team succeeded in restoring power to most of campus within only six hours and exceeded time estimates to fully restore the rest of campus. The quick response was due largely in part to good long-term planning in recent years, including upgrading the 13.2kV feeders, installing T-body cable splices, and the team’s unwavering commitment to the success of AU.

Throughout June and July, the Energy and Engineering team joined the 2FIX team at the multiple Community Showcases held during Eagle Summit to speak on energy efficiency and AU’s Temperature Policy. Hundreds of incoming students and their families visited the teams' table to learn more about the temperature policy, ask questions, and take home some free goodies.

Opportunities such as these to engage and interact with students and fellow staff are vital to Energy and Engineering. Based on the feedback the team receives at such events, they also can plan energy improvement projects that address the needs of other AU community members. The E&E team also can showcase some of the many behind-the-scenes projects that typically go on without notice that help conserve water, electricity, and gas, in conjunction with AU’s achievement of being carbon neutral.

To learn more about Lucid BuildingOS or to find out where the Energy team will be tabling next, email Courtney Chinn, Utilities Outreach Program Leader, at cchinn@american.edu.