What is Sustainability?
Sustainability, as defined by the 1987 United Nations’ Bruntland Commission, means “meeting the needs of the present without sacrificing the ability of future generations to meet their needs.” There are three pillars of sustainability; society, economy and environment. If any one of these pillars is weak, the system as a whole is not sustainable. The pillars are inter-connected and optimal sustainability is achieved when all three work together.
Sustainability at Wake Tech
“Upon becoming a Signatory of the American College and University Presidents’ Climate Commitment (ACUPCC) [in 2010], Wake Technical Community College formally recognized the threat of global climate change and accepted responsibility for addressing green house gas (GHG) emissions related to college operations.”
Read the full Climate Action Plan
Wake Tech’s Sustainability Mission:
At Wake Technical Community College, we understand that a healthy, sustainable society requires citizens who understand consequences and the balances among economic success, social equity and environmental conservation. Wake Tech is therefore committed to promoting a culture of sustainability across its campuses and throughout our community. We will accomplish this by:
- Preparing students to be engaged and responsible citizens by integrating sustainability topics, issues and application into academics, career development and student life
- Promoting innovation, stewardship and leadership to transform sustainability principles and policies into effective practices
- Creating partnerships within the larger community that support sustainability principles, goals and practices
- Understanding and employing best practices in campus operations and services
- Acting as a clearinghouse for public education, outreach and resources
Check out our initiatives list to see all of the great things Wake Tech is doing to support the sustainability mission.
Please join us in welcoming John Majernik, Wake Tech's new Energy Engineer. Sustainability Coordinator, Jenna Craddock, had the opportunity to ask John a few questions about his work and his plans for the college. Enjoy the brief interview below!
Q: John, please tell us a little bit about yourself and how you became interested in this field of work.
A: I am a graduate Mechanical Engineer and a registered Professional Energy Manager. Before coming to Wake Tech, I served for over five years as Energy Manager for the NC Department of Public Safety. Ever since I was young, I would always take apart broken toys, bikes, lawnmowers, appliances, etc. to figure out how they worked. Many times I would have that item “fixed” and working better than before, without having to buy a new one. Becoming an Energy Engineer was a natural opportunity for me to channel that passion into figuring out how buildings work and making them operate more efficiently, resulting in lower energy usage and increased cost savings!
Q: What does an Energy Engineer do?
A: Energy Engineers wear many hats as they work with fellow team members to accomplish common goals, such as: track and monitor utility cost & usage; manage energy saving projects; capture utility rebates & incentives; interface with designers & builders to ensure energy efficient components are integrated into construction projects; trend energy usage inside buildings to maximize building efficiencies; and help to raise the awareness of the importance of energy conservation.
Q: Do you have any special energy projects in mind for Wake Tech?
A: Our main campus has some older buildings that use either propane or fuel oil for heating and hot water, so we are working with the gas company to supply natural gas to the campus and convert these buildings to a cleaner burning and less expensive energy source. We will be identifying and converting older lighting system technologies to more energy efficient LED lighting systems. We will also be looking to see where we can increase the performance of our older buildings. There will be several more energy projects identified as our campuses continue to age and expand.
Q: What is your best piece of advice for folks looking to conserve energy at home?
A: Other than the standard advice to always turn off unneeded lights and to set back the thermostat when we are not home, a commonly overlooked energy loss occurs in “phantom” loads. A phantom load is any device that consumes electricity when turned off but still plugged into an outlet. Let’s look at our cell phones as an example… Did you know that two pronged block shaped device, a.k.a. transformer, we plug into a wall outlet to charge our phone is consuming electricity, even when the phone is not plugged into it? How many times have we left it plugged into the wall while our phones were not being charged? Many electronic devices (tablets, computers, printers, gaming systems, TVs, DVD players, Rokus, electric toothbrushes & razors, etc.) have either external or internal power transformers that are using electricity, even when the devices are not turned on, or not being charged. When you look collectively at the number of these transformer devices in your house using power every day, all day, all year, a significant savings can be gained by simply unplugging all of those devices that are not being used at that moment. Just remember, “if it’s unplugged, it’s saving energy and money!”
Submit suggestions or questions about sustainability to [email protected]