Staff Profile: John Hannum

Feb. 12, 2020

John Hannum plays a prominent role in implementing integrative design process in new construction and renovations to meet University sustainability performance targets.

What is your role and how long have you been at the University?

I started in February of 2017 as the Office of Capital Projects MEP Project Engineer and In-House Commissioning Agent. I am both a Professional Engineer and a Registered Architect. I have been at the University for 3 years now. My role has expanded from a focus on quality control for Mechanical, Electrical, and Plumbing systems to include a prominent role in cultivating energy efficient design strategies leveraging integrative analysis throughout the University’s Capital Projects. My background is in equal parts mechanical systems design and building façade consulting. For this reason, I have been able to bridge the gaps between individuals’ knowledge of a building’s facade and its internal systems to help develop integrated sustainability solutions with economically viable outcomes. Additionally, as a Commissioning Agent for the Office of Capital projects, I get involved in the earliest stages of the design process and stay involved through construction to functional testing culminating with post occupancy evaluation and lessons learned. This involvement through all phases of design, construction, and post occupancy aids the University in maintaining a positive feedback loop for continuous improvement as we progress through this Capital Plan.

How do you define sustainability?

I believe Sustainability is the ability to sustain life in a way that is both environmentally responsible and resource efficient. I believe for something to be truly sustainable, it must function within its ecosystem in a holistic way to consume only as much or less than it contributes. When applied to the building and construction industry, I believe sustainable design cannot be achieved with only incremental improvements to our current process. We need a different way of thinking. Sustainable design by this definition must incorporate all that is necessary for the outcome to have a net neutral or positive impact on resources and the surrounding ecosystem.

In what ways have you integrated sustainability practices into your work environment?

Given my day to day role in the Office of Capital Projects, I am actively involved in bridging design disciplines to develop integrative sustainable design strategies into all capital projects both large and small. I am regularly involved in each project’s design reviews and advocate for sustainable solutions where ever feasible. I am the Process Manager for the Facilities Sustainability Advocacy Committee who’s charge is to advocate for implementation of sustainability opportunities throughout all Capital Plan projects. One concrete example of this is my involvement in review and optimization of façade and envelope detailing to maximize thermal performance and minimize thermal bridging. When integrated with the use of low energy interior thermal comfort systems, the result is lower overall energy consumption AND improved indoor environmental comfort.

In what ways have you integrated sustainability practices at home?

I am a strong believer in capitalizing on passive strategies for heating and cooling, and have incorporated a number of strategies into my own home to avoid the use of air conditioning and minimize heating loads. I’ve replaced all of my lighting with LED fixtures or bulbs to minimize electrical consumption, and I reusing as much as possible around the house and community, often refurbishing and restoring furniture in my free time. I am also an avid gardener and practice sustainable gardening principles including composting and incorporating natural landscaping where feasible.

What is one recommendation you have for someone who wants to take action?

Ask questions. So much of what we do on a day to day basis is grounded in preconceived notions and tradition which is generally not sustainable. There is always a better way of doing something. Don’t be comfortable with the status quo.