What is your role and how long have you been at the University?
I am a Senior Maintenance Mechanic in Special Facilities, Grounds and Building Maintenance for the multi-trade shop serving the Engineering neighborhood on campus. For the past 15 years, I worked in a similar role in the life sciences buildings but recently transferred as part of a departmental initiative to bring new innovative and sustainable practices to the E-Quad shop.
How do you define sustainability?
We are all poorly programmed to think long-term; sustainability is counter-intuitive. We need to consider the outcomes of our actions to assure the resources we require (water, land, biodiversity) are available for our descendants.
A sustainable future requires educating the populace on the importance and impact of their individual choices and cooperation across dozens of disciplines to build a smart, purposeful society.
In what ways have you integrated sustainability practices into your work environment?
Maintenance is, by definition, sustainability. With proper preventive and predictive practices, the equipment within our buildings will last years or decades beyond their expected lifetimes and operate at peak efficiency to minimize energy requirements. Effective inventory tracking and recycling of waste controls the flow of raw materials required by and generated from our work.
Filters and v-belts being changed timely saves energy; proper belt type and tensioning can improve fan efficiency by as much as 5%. Lights have been converted to LEDs and light sensors have been added to most areas. Heating and cooling systems are monitored closely and serviced frequently to maximize their performance. Disposable batteries, which we use in large quantities, have been phased out and replaced with rechargeable versions. Purchases of new materials are compared to find the item with the best life-cycle.
I almost exclusively walk or bike across campus. Recently, our shop has purchased a utility tricycle for traversing our campus and transferring parts and materials without the need for fossil fuels.
In what ways have you integrated sustainability practices at home?
My family has been making incremental changes in our behavior and habits for a few years to target waste and efficiency. We shifted to a plant-based diet, shop weekly at the Burlington County Farmer’s Market, and try to only buy local at the grocer. We compost our organic waste and use it in our community garden plot.
Our home is small and space is maximized. Appliances were updated to efficient models and most of our stuff is either heirloom or purchased with its life-cycle in mind. We limit travel and are in a prime location to walk or bike to a number of entertaining destinations in town. I regularly assist my extended family in making informed decisions regarding their personal sustainability.