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Porsche White – Applied Mathematics & Environmental Sciences

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Porsche White – Applied Mathematics & Environmental Sciences

By Sustainability Interns | January 28, 2015


I am a recent graduate of the University of California Riverside and I hold a Bachelors of Science degree in Applied Mathematics with an emphasis in Environmental Sciences. During my extensive coursework in this field I have gained knowledge in areas such as mathematical modeling, statistical analysis, air and water quality, environmental policy, environmental health, environmental impact assessments and energy efficiency. I have a passion for energy conservation and creating healthier communities that thrive in sustainable, well-built and maintained environments. My time with the UCR Office of Sustainability began in January of 2014 as a Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) Existing Buildings Operations and Maintenance Intern, provided through the Green Campus Action Plan (GCAP). LEED is a set of third party rating systems developed by the U.S Green Building Council that was established to assist building owners, developers, personnel, and operators to be environmentally responsible and use resources efficiently. LEED includes rating systems for the design, construction, operation, and maintenance of green buildings, homes and the planning of neighborhoods.

I have had the opportunity to participate in internships involving several organizations including the U.S Green Building Council Inland Empire Chapter and the UCR R’Garden. Although all of my activities played a vital role in establishing my interests in sustainable development, the LEED internship allowed me the opportunity to directly apply what I learned in the classroom to real world situations.

Urban environments are filled with homes, schools, roads, and other infrastructure, infrastructure that has been designed to accommodate the needs of many. However, much of this infrastructure fails to accommodate the needs of the natural environment, which is steadily declining due to negative human interactions. With people spending around 90% of their time indoors and buildings in the United States accounting for 38% of all carbon emissions, buildings should be a place of security and not a major negative influence on the environment. Many materials for new construction are shipped internationally and homes developed just hours outside of highly developed cities increase urban sprawl, all of which lead to increases in air and water pollution. How are these new developments affecting biodiversity, water quality and air quality of surrounding areas? How can we build more sustainable infrastructure that fosters environmental stewardship and social responsibility, while still turning economic profits? The solutions to these questions are what pique my interests in sustainable development and environmental sciences and are the reasons that I became interested in LEED rating systems and the UCR Office of Sustainability.


What did I learn as an LEED Intern?

Ultimately I developed an understanding of what LEED is and its importance to resource conservation, accountability, and building sustainable communities. In order for a building to be LEED certified a certain amount of points must be accumulated and fall within the ranges of Certified (40-49), Silver (50-59), Gold (60-79), or Platinum (80+). Buildings achieve points through attempting LEED credits which vary in point and credit requirements when using different rating systems. There are also prerequisites and minimum program requirements that each building attempting certification must meet in order to qualify. Credits and prerequisites are arranged in categories including Sustainable Sites (SS), Water Efficiency (WE), Materials and Resources (MR), Energy and Atmosphere EA), and Indoor Environmental Quality (IEQ). Currently there are five rating systems that address various project types: Building Design and Construction (BD+C), Interior Design and Construction (ID+C), Neighborhood Development (ND), Homes, and Existing Building Operations and Maintenance (EBOM). My internship focused on EBOM.

I had the opportunity to work on LEED credits involving the integration of energy efficient and sustainable practices into building functionality. I assisted with various aspects of certification of both Glen Mor I campus apartments and the Materials Science and Engineering Building (MSE). With this internship came a learning curve and a great amount of support while learning the basis of the LEED v2009 rating system. I gained knowledge of relationships between energy consumption and renewable energy sources, building sustainable sites, indoor environmental quality, water efficiency and resource planning. I had the chance to prepare documentation, visuals, spreadsheets, and reports, for LEED Online templates to submit to the Green Building Certification Institute (GBCI), which provides oversight of project certification programs related to green building.

In addition, I assisted in an energy conservation management budget regarding the insulation and repair of various underground pipes assemblies. Learning more about the way buildings use energy and how simple repairs can save money and resources proved to be an invaluable experience. I learned how to interpret building plans and architectural drawings as well as using software like Bluebeam and develop a better understanding of Adobe and Microsoft Office products. Learning more about energy conservation and estimation, refrigerants, alternative transportation sources, and other mechanical systems in buildings allowed me to effectively carry out my assignments. I learned that in order to have and efficient and sustainable building, a team of individuals from a range of expertise must be included in every step of the process. Ultimately I learned that building healthier, sustainable communities through green building practices is priceless and this is the field that I would like to establish a career in.

The following are a few of the credits I had the opportunity to work on:

Sustainable Sites
SSc4 – Alternative Commuting Transportation
SSc4 – Light Pollution Reduction

Materials & Resources
MRc1: Sustainable Purchasing – Ongoing Consumables
MRc2: Sustainable Purchasing – Durable Goods
MRc2.1: Electric – Powered Equipment
MRc2.2: Furniture
MRc4: Sustainable Purchasing – Reduced Mercury in Lamps
MRc6: Solid Waste Management: Waste Stream Audit
MRc7: Solid Waste Management – Ongoing Consumables
MRc8: Solid Waste Management – Durable Goods

Indoor Environmental Quality
IEQc2.1 – Occupant Comfort – Occupant Survey
IEQc2.2: Controllability of Systems Lighting
IEQc3.2: Green Custodial Effectiveness Assessment



How did the LEED internship help me reach my goals?

This internship requires the ability to work in both team and independent environments and provide attention to details, all of which I have learned to do quite well because of this internship. I was responsible for relaying information across various entities and campus departments while monitoring and reporting individual progress to a project team and adhering to strict deadlines. I believe all of these attributes are important in any position involving project management. This internship has really helped me to solidify my careers interest and skill set. I am actively seeking even more opportunities to apply my skills in the environmental industry, including alternative energy, sustainability, green building, and/or consulting.

Two of my goals have already been achieved. I recently became a member of the USGBC-LA Chapter and accredited as a LEED Green Associate. I look forward to sharing my insight on green building with others in the future and because of this internship I am very confident in my newest LEED venture, becoming a LEED accredited professional in operations and maintenance of existing buildings. I would encourage anyone who is interested in sustainability, no matter what your major is, to take advantage of the opportunities the Office of Sustainability offers. There are opportunities available to accommodate your interests and background. I truly appreciate this office and I thank both John Cook (Director of Sustainability) and Ruby Gonzalez (LEED Analyst) for giving me the opportunity to really find what I believe to be my career calling in life.

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General Campus Information

University of California, Riverside
900 University Ave.
Riverside, CA 92521
Tel: (951) 827-1012

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Office of Sustainability
University Village
1223 University Avenue, Suite 200

Tel: (951) 827-1270
Fax: (951) 827-3890
E-mail: sustain@ucr.edu

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