Net Zero Emerging Leaders Intern: Introducing Madelaine (Pt 1)

By Madelaine Murray, Net Zero Emerging Leaders Intern

Net Zero Emerging Leaders Intern Madelaine Murray working at Hennebery Eddy Architects. The NZEL internship is funded from a grant from Energy Trust of Oregon.

In 2019, Hennebery Eddy received a Net Zero Emerging Leaders Internship grant from Energy Trust of Oregon to hire a sustainable design student intern to help us comply with our Architecture 2030 Commitment, integrate new sustainable design QC checks throughout our design process, and conduct post-occupancy evaluations focused on building performance. The internship demonstrates our dedication to the 2030 pledge and our broader net-positive philosophy and integrated sustainable design process. In the first of a series of blog posts, intern Madelaine Murray shares her initial reflections from the experience.

I’m Madelaine Murray, a graduate student in the College of Design at the University of Oregon – Portland. One of the advantages to studying in Portland is the ability to work at an architecture firm alongside classes, especially in a city acting as a hub for sustainable culture and mindful design. Hennebery Eddy is a very familiar name at the UO Portland, advocating for net-positive design, and several staff members have served as visiting reviewers for student projects. Hennebery Eddy is certainly a role model for successful projects rooted in context and for utilizing design principles relating to sustainability and thinking long term. University of Oregon encourages students to think beyond the buzzword of “sustainability,” allowing students to focus on many different avenues of design, such as adaptive reuse, resiliency, and energy efficiency. What was enticing about becoming a Net Zero Emerging Leader is advocating for these concepts beyond the academic realm. Reading about a building’s energy use in a textbook is not nearly as impactful as discussing it with a project team aiming reach a specific EUI goal. In a way, the NZEL program lets aspiring architects like me watch these sustainable design principles come to life.

One of my roles at Hennebery Eddy is the Design Data Exchange (DDx) Ambassador. In other words, I’m the primary person entering data into the online DDx. The AIA Design Data Exchange tool is a unique way to both promote and archive information regarding building performance. Firms can compare their portfolio to the entire global database, granting the ability to track their performance over time and incentivizing them to add data and contribute to the overall AIA 2030 Challenge.

A benefit of working with the DDx is that I’m quickly becoming familiar with many of Hennebery Eddy’s projects. Entering a project into the database requires a significant amount of information regarding the building’s construction and performance, which leads me to connect with project teams. Exposure to the work flow of a project through the lens of a net-positive design approach is certainly advantageous to my education. Hennebery Eddy integrates net-positive design thinking into the entire lifespan of a project, rather than as an afterthought, which I can relate to my own studio project. As a student, sometimes there is a disconnect between the material learned in class versus the studio project, and the Net Zero Emerging Leaders internship challenges me to think beyond the simple steps of “sustainable” architecture. For example, inputting figures such as R-values and determining air handling units is fine-grained detail for overall energy use, and it adds a new layer of thinking that I will use in the remainder of my studies and throughout my career.

I’ve just begun data entry, and I am working with a couple of project teams one-on-one to collect those fine-grain details of a single project. I am looking forward to the finished collection of 2018 project data; DDx generates graphs to depict performance over time, and using them to compare the current year’s projects to past years is incredibly helpful for understanding the firm’s performance.

The NZEL internship is successful in the fact that an external person, like me, can become fluent in the language of the DDx and sustainable design terminology to help enter data more efficiently and thoroughly. Coming into an architecture internship with a very specific position has been an incredibly useful and engaging experience in only a short amount of time. Throughout the past month or so, I have enjoyed taking charge of the tool and am starting to brainstorm ways to improve office protocol, as well as teach others how to use it. I have worked closely with the members of the sustainability committee at Hennebery Eddy, and they have been welcoming and encouraging. I look forward to helping them further establish net-positive thinking into the design process and complete the data entry for DDx before the March deadline.

I greatly value my hours in the office, plugging into work that I am passionate about; it’s a nice little escape from the bustle of studio work in school. My vocabulary in net-positive design has increased exponentially, and the crossover to my studio work is beginning to show. I look forward getting in touch with more project teams and to accumulating more data!

Read Madelaine’s second post here.