I am a mechanical engineer, aka enginerd, who recently chose to redirect my career by joining Vibrantcy. My whole career (and I am getting old) has been designing parts or systems, performing finite element analysis to determine stresses or failure modes, managing the fabrication and testing of those systems, and delivering the end product to the customer. After my first week at Vibrantcy it truly set in; this is a reset. Now my focus will be enhancing building performance by conserving energy and managing building systems resources more wisely. I’m excited to brush off some cobwebs and do my best to make a difference.
The team at Vibrantcy decided to say ‘Welcome New Girl’ by signing me up to write the blog for March. Thanks Everyone – don’t worry I look forward to returning the favor!
Here it goes…..
I have always considered myself mindful of energy use and overall waste. I used to play a game with myself every fall to see how long I could go before turning on the heat, and then how low could I maintain the set point without being miserable (I live in the Southwest). Besides, sweaters are cheaper than gas. I developed small habits like turning the water off while brushing my teeth, turning lights off when I leave a room, using natural ventilation when the season permits, and so on.
In recent years my heart has grown very heavy on the topic of energy conservation. For example, there are times I walk into a grocery store and feel an overwhelming sense of sorrow; the abundance of food choices on the shelves, the massive amount of meats and seafood, beautiful produce that look like the super models of agriculture, not to mention the rows of open refrigeration for cheeses and juices.
Then I realize there are one or two more supermarkets within a 5-mile radius with the same abundance of choices and infrastructure. This is a massive amount of electricity, gas and water used everyday to process foods, transport foods, refrigerate, etc. Do I dare ponder how much is wasted?
All the wonderful conveniences of our society have removed us from the intensive processes and resources required to produce everything we consume. We live with a mindset of consume now (food, clothing, electronics, etc.) and whatever is excess is thrown away. The majority of us don’t even think twice when we throw things away.
However, I do believe there have been efforts to bring awareness to consumption, waste, and energy management. I want to further that effort and help be a part of the solution. I find myself thinking daily about how I can do better. Where can I be more efficient with the energy I’m using? I like to drive fast (don’t tell my husband). Did you know that the power required to overcome aerodynamic drag by a vehicle is proportional to velocity cubed (V3)? Translation: fuel economy drops significantly at higher speeds.
As I was saying, I find myself looking daily for ways I can better utilize resources around me. I openly admit I have a long way to go, some things are easier for me than others (zoom zoom), but the point is I’m aware and I make a conscious effort everyday to conserve energy. I want to help others become aware, even small changes can have a huge impact.
How about we build a bridge?
Yes, let’s build a bridge together and the first step is a site survey. Take a look around your home, how many refrigerators/freezers are currently in use? Do you have refrigerated A/C or a swamp cooler? How many computers are plugged in? Dishwasher? Washer/dryer? What type of vehicle do you drive? What types of light bulbs are installed? You get the idea.
Now start to take note of your daily/weekly habits. Do you wait until the dishwasher is completely full to run it? How many loads of laundry do you do a week? How long is your typical shower? Do you leave water running while you brush your teeth? How much food in your refrigerators/freezers will likely end up being tossed out? How often do you buy new clothes and what do you do with old clothes? Do you bring your own bags to the grocery store? What is your typical commute, etc?
Take some time to assess your surroundings and observe daily/weekly habits. We can then move on to the next phase of building our bridge (I’m already excited for the big crane, oh damn, this is a metaphorical bridge).
In case you need to be enticed to come back…. There is money to be saved, money that you spend on that sparkly full suspension 29er you’ve been wanting. Oh wait, that’s what I’ve been wanting.
Please, do come back – who doesn’t want free money?
Author: Kimberly Weaver
Mechanical Engineer + Energy Analyst