EDF Climate Corps Intern Spends Summer with Swinerton

Contributor: Guest Blogger   |   August 19, 2015
EDF Climate Corps Intern Spends Summer with Swinerton

This summer, Swinerton welcomed MBA student and North Carolina resident Eileen Hurley as an intern at our various jobsites throughout the Bay Area. Swinerton teamed up with Environmental Defense Fund’s (EDF) Climate Corps  to bring Eileen aboard the Swinerton team where she spent the summer months gaining hands-on experience while studying the role energy efficiency and sustainability play within the construction industry. So what was it like working as an intern at Swinerton? Take a look at what Eileen had to say:

During my summer at various Swinerton jobsites I received a lot of great questions about my role as a Climate Corps Fellow. But the two questions I received the most were “How’d you end up all the way on this side of the country?” and “What are you doing in your project?”  And the answers to those perfectly sum up my role as an intern at Swinerton.

First, I am a North Carolina resident, a former mechanical engineer who worked in nuclear power plants, and am currently pursuing an MBA at the University of Virginia’s Darden School of Business. So how did I get all the way over to the west coast this summer? It’s a great question.

In my relatively short eight year career in nuclear power, I saw a huge focus shift from energy generation and building new power plants to the roll energy efficiency and conservation would need to fill in our country’s energy profile. So, when I got to Darden I intentionally sought out internship opportunities that would allow me to explore this other side of the energy coin. And the Environmental Defense Fund’s (EDF) Climate Corps Fellowship was the perfect fit. EDF partners with companies across the country, placing fellows who are focused on the roll energy efficiency and conservation play in the success of a business. These fellowships cover a multitude of roles in a variety of industries. My particular roll was comparable to an inside consultancy—I was tasked with evaluating ways that Swinerton could save energy and costs in the building process.

In other words, while we all know that Swinerton is a leader in the area of LEED® building, some of our processes and approaches to construction have not caught up to our finished products. Most of my days were spent at various sites throughout the Bay Area, gathering information on the current approach to temporary lighting and researching alternative approaches and equipment. By the end of the summer, I had identified a few small changes that Swinerton could implement at future jobsites to reduce their energy consumption and recognize tangible electricity bill savings. I cannot wait to hear how those changes will be implemented at 390 1st Street, the pilot site Swinerton’s Tony Williamson identified as a great place to “go green” in building.   

But that’s not all I did this summer. I got to see the future of business and residential lighting at an electrical distributor who focuses solely on energy efficient lighting solutions; one of the highlights of my summer was a tour of two of the Recology site. This is a free program that Recology opens to the public on a regular basis and I highly recommend the tour to all Bay Area residents—you’ll never look at your trash the same way again. The best part of my summer though, was how receptive Swinerton employees were to helping me gather information and the interest they showed in my developing project. While my project was more of a solitary venture and not necessarily focused on a finished building, every site I visited had multiple people who were willing to show me around, answer questions, and take me under their wing. I think that speaks volumes about the familial atmosphere Swinerton has created within a large company. I’m very thankful for the opportunity to experience that firsthand.