Climbing the Energy Mountain, One Step at a Time

While participating in this internship, I was challenged to open my brain to new, collaborative ideas, was able to connect with others on a new level, and was exposed to parts of the Twin Cities not everyone notices.

My name is Olivia Veloske and this summer I was an Energy Engagement Student Intern. During the internship we were asked to come up with an elevator pitch that sums up the internship in a sentence or two. I’m convinced that this task is impossible, because that’s how remarkable this opportunity was. Over the course of six days (not including our work at the State Fair), the eight interns were able to meet and personally engage with commerce staff from the State Energy Office engineers, business owners, operations directors, and non-profits whose task of effectively making a difference in our world is their daily job. Meeting and talking with these people was so fulfilling and inspiring for me because they have a purpose that is deeply meaningful to them. They aspire to make the world we live in a more sustainable and healthier atmosphere that will hopefully support future generations in a better way.

As a Bioproducts Engineering major, the venture that stuck out most to me was visiting the Science Museum of Minnesota in St. Paul. Three years ago, the Science Museum installed a Heat Recovery System. This heat recovery ventilation allows a cross flow between inbound and outbound air flow. The system provides improved climate control and saves energy by reducing heating and cooling requirements throughout the building. The museum has already had total payback in three years after they installed their Heat Recovery System, using 75% less generated heat than in years past. If most large buildings in the area utilized this type of system, the energy savings would be prodigious.

My two mentors during this internship were Jenna Totz with Climate Generation and Terry Webster with the Department of Commerce. Throughout the internship, I realized their goal was not only to educate me on energy efficiency and climate change but also to expose me to new ideas and environments. They also gave me important tools to continue being a loyal steward to my community and the environment that I will utilize for years to come.

While working at the Minnesota State Fair, I was amazed by the Eco Experience building. The fact that over 15 organizations/businesses come together to spread the word about energy efficiency and sustainable choices a person can make in their daily life is so enlivening. I learned throughout this internship that in order to make a difference everyone has to collaborate together. The workers in the Eco Experience building are reaching out to the 260,000 people that make their way through the exhibits. Although not everyone is going to go home and change their bulbs to LED or start riding their bike to work everyday, at least we encouraged them to think about it. And those who do choose to make a difference through changing their behavior will hopefully be a changemaker and a good example for others to follow.

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