Behind the Climate Action Plan: 3Qs with Siobhan Carr, Facilities Engineering
MIT's operational staff and academic community are key partners to MITOS and in reaching MIT's climate goals. To highlight this, we feature the contributions of operational, academic, and administrative staff in the monthly newsletter, the MITOS Digest, and the Thought Leadership blog. Peek behind the curtain of the climate action plan into the day-to-day implementation of MIT's bold commitments and read Jessica Park's response to 3Qs below.
Working Facilities Engineering group in the Department of Facilities since 2014, Siobhan has an educational and work background in mechanical engineering. She serves as a co-lead on the Fast Forward: Plan for Climate Action workstream for Building Energy Efficiency.
What is a typical day like for you at MIT?
My main objective is to oversee and provide both strategic and project-based direction for the Department of Facilities’ greenhouse gas and energy reduction program. The program is a holistic view of our district energy system which both creates and uses energy streams throughout campus. Furthermore, the work and coordination is very important to the Fast Forward initiative and takes not only dedication, but also being nimble enough to manage multiple different tasks throughout the day while always keeping in mind the larger objective of Campus Decarbonization. Constant coordination and communication between the MITOS, EHS, Office of Campus Planning, and within DoF teams are required to understand the hows, whens, and whys to our energy systems and how it effects our community members.
A more granular look into a recent day of an energy program manager includes:
Reviewed the latest draft report from ISO-NE (electrical grid operator) and how it aligns with our overall carbon reduction strategy and potential impacts on the Central Utility Plant (CUP) operation
Reviewed the latest Building Energy Use Disclosure Ordinance (BEUDO) Amendments that Cambridge is proposing
Met with our energy project management team to discuss initial deliverables from our latest energy audit
Reviewed the results of a wind study and how it could potentially improve the energy savings and reduce costs on one of our energy projects
Connected with EHS regarding lab ventilation and design standards,
Coordinated with Capital Project managers regarding in progress construction projects on campus and how it will impact our campus growth
Reviewed our current energy projects progress to assess timelines and start planning the next round of energy audits.
While always thinking about how our district energy system can operate more efficiently and create the bridge to the future
What are some ways your work and your team support MIT’s climate action plan to reduce on-campus emissions and utilize the campus as a test bed for change?
The program addresses energy reduction opportunities within our campus buildings and within our centralized energy distribution systems and cogeneration plant. Understanding our current systems – both from a plant dispatch, campus distribution, and building operation level allows MIT to be ready and capable of adapting to and adopting the most energy efficient strategies possible to help achieve are climate action objectives as defined by our Fast Forward plan.
I have had the pleasure of working with multiple members of our academic community as they are trying to solve for carbon neutrality or a smaller offset of initiatives such as fume hood optimization. Being able to be part of research and pilot projects is very rewarding.
What’s one thing you wish people knew about your department and how it keeps MIT running?
We never stop working to support the Institute and the research being performed. DoF is a department of dedicated and outstanding individuals who understand the larger reasoning behind our day to day tasks. It takes an incredible amount of effort to keep the institute’s lights on and I am proud to be part of the team that will keep the lights on while reducing our carbon.
Facilities Engineering helps plan for sustainable building systems from engineering new complexes to pioneering waste treatment options for a single site. The group guides MIT clients to the best options in sustainable building design and recommends investments that support long-term benefits.
Achieve net-zero carbon emissions by 2026, with a goal of eliminating direct emissions by 2050.
MIT’s Central Utilities Plant (CUP) produces on-campus electricity and steam through a combined heat and power (CHP) process, also known as cogeneration – a highly efficient method of generating electrical and thermal power simultaneously. It was upgraded in 2021