2010 PFIG Recipient Emma Dupont

Career Administrator

Emma Dupont
College of Arts and Sciences
Foreign Affairs and Environmental Thought & Practice Major
2012 Graduation Year

Internship: Albemarle County Public Schools, Building Services Department

Notes on the first week

My first week at my internship has absolutely fulfilled my expectations of exposing me to many different areas of environmental work. Working alongside the environmental compliance manager of the Albemarle School District has so far given me a glimpse of the responsibilities of someone in an environmental managing position and what such a job would entail. I feel that because I am just working with one person and because I am the only intern, I am getting a lot more experience than if I was working at a larger office with more interns.

So far, my main focus at the office has been to work on a LEED For Existing Buildings Project that has just recently been started for Henley Middle School. It is overwhelming to see how many steps and prerequisites there are to get such a certification (the whole process will most likely take about a year), however I have been given the responsibility to dig through and see what needs to be done for our specific case so that I can start working on getting some of the steps completed. After looking through some of the requirements, we decided that I should write an Efficient Environmental Purchasing Policy for the school district because this is one of the prerequisites for applying for the certification. Yesterday, I attended a Greener Office Summit which was held at a conference center in Washington DC, where I represented the Albemarle School District as the "Assistant Environmental Manager" (sounds so legitimate!) The discussions centered on environmental purchasing policies and what types of requirements one should try to include, so today I will be finishing up the first draft of the policy. We will then bring this to the School Board to be voted on and hopefully passed, which will mean not only that we have successfully completed a step for the LEED certification, but also that the school district will have a guideline for buying greener and less environmentally harmful products.

The next step of my work is going to be to start working on water efficiency in Henley Middle School. We are hoping to buy dual flush retrofits for the toilets, as well as aerators for the sinks to minimize the amount of water that is used in the school daily. So far, we have made one trip to the middle school, but I believe I will be making a few more to perform numerous energy audits, which I have now learned how to do! I cannot express my appreciation enough for the grant that I received. I will keep you posted on the rest of my time as the "Assistant Environmental Manager"!

Midway

I have experience and learned an incredible amount in the last few weeks at my internship. My supervisor has had me working on a few different projects, which has definitely kept me busy.

My main project right now is to start putting together a LEED for Existing Buildings application for Henley Middle School, which is in the Albemarle school district. I have been working on making sure we fulfill the prerequisites for even applying, which amongst other things requires us to have an Environmental Purchasing Policy for the district. I have been working on this for the past few weeks and we will be bringing this to the next School Board meeting. If it is passed (fingers crossed!) then that brings us one step closer to the ultimate goal of finishing the extensive application for LEED for Existing Buildings.

Another thing that I have been working on which is also related to the LEED application is a grant proposal to build a windmill at this same middle school mentioned above. The windmill would not only give us a credit for renewable energy on the application, but it would also be a great source for schools around the area to educate their students on the importance of renewable energy. It would be more interesting and hands-on if the children had a windmill right in their school district to take field trips and receive accurate wind data from. I attended the Wind Energy Symposium earlier this month at James Madison University, and there we were able to speak directly with people who are involved in a program called "Wind for Schools". As long as we are able to come up with some more money through either fundraising or donations (or maybe this grant that we applied for), it looks like this windmill may be a reality starting this fall.

Lastly, my supervisor and I have done a total of 10 ENERGY STAR school audits, and together have worked on putting together the applications for the eligible schools to get certified. This has been a time-consuming task, but I feel that carrying out the process from start to finish has been a great learning experience. We heard back from the Environmental Protection Agency today, and so far four of these schools have been approved. We are waiting to hear on the other schools, and there will most likely be a press release to the local news once we know the final count!

All in all, I am very grateful to the Parents Committee for making this whole internship possible for me this summer. I am learning an incredible amount from being here every day, and am excited to see what the last few weeks have in store for me!

Final Reflections

Throughout the last month of my internship, I mainly spent time putting the final touches on both the efficient waste management policy and environmental purchasing policy that I was putting together. It was interesting and eye-opening to see just how hard it is to put together such a statute, because of the major change that a few words can have on the meaning of a sentence. My internship advisor, Lindsay, made it clear that one of these minor changes can be the difference between a policy getting passed or not, and therefore every single section and phrase had to be well thought out and discussed between her and I. This was actually something that I found very frustrating and challenging, as you often want to feel that you are writing a policy that will make a big difference in the end, and often times this is not possible because of the bureaucracy that is present in the local government (and I am sure many other larger organizations). Despite the fact that it was frustrating, it really introduced me to the challenges that come along with environmental policy and legislation, and gave me a better understanding of why it takes so much time to see significant changes in legislation both in the environmental, as well as other fields.

On a more positive note, during my last week of the internship we received five of the Energy Star certification plaques that we had applied for towards the beginning of my time there. It was a great feeling to actually be able to physically hold the plaques considering the amount of time it took, not only perform energy audits in all the buildings, but to enter all the data into their respective excel spreadsheets. Along with the plaques, we received letters of recognition from the Environmental Protection Agency, which was a large accomplishment for the Albemarle School District.

Lastly, I spent a few days putting together some educational outreach material that could be used in the schools. These were in the form of recycling and energy posters that had various facts and suggestions about energy and what one can do to reduce their carbon footprint. If all goes well, Lindsay said that she would be printing out approximately 200 of these to distribute throughout the schools.

This internship has been a great introduction to some real life experience in the environmental sector of the local government. I feel that the challenges I have faced throughout my 8 weeks on the job have shown me some aspects of the work that absolutely go beyond what you could learn in a classroom about similar work. There are so many added hardships involved in the real world, and I feel that this internship has made me a step closer to being prepared to take these on when I graduate. Thanks again to the Parents Fund for making this experience possible.