I've taken a new job in the environmental field — my second at CU. I will be working as a student assistant for the Department of Mechanical Engineering, part of Facilities Management for Colorado University. Working for the university gives me insight into the immense effort involved in running a large institution.
The goal of the program is to reduce energy consumption in buildings, saving the university large sums of money by reducing heating and cooling needs. While one part of the program looks at optimizing air flow rates into laboratories, the area I will be focusing on is retrofitting building envelopes.
A building envelope is the physical separator between the interior and the exterior environments of a building. Some of the buildings on campus are over 100 years old. Many buildings suffer from serious leaks in the building envelope. By closing off the leaks and adding insulation where needed, the building envelope can be sealed off and the energy required for heating and cooling can be reduced. One fun part of the process involves using infrared thermography to detect where air is escaping or entering the envelope.
Retrofitting and optimizing buildings to reduce energy consumption can help relieve the impact of the looming energy crisis. I believe we must learn to use the resources we have more wisely, and making buildings more energy efficient is one way to do so.