Facilities Management’s (FM) newly announced Director of Engineering and Energy, Susan Corry, is no stranger to the University of Maryland community. Susan has been a proud Terp employee for more than 13 years and has been with FM's Engineering & Energy (E&E) team since the unit formed in 2013. Her on-campus accomplishments include the development and implementation of renewable energy strategies that achieved the university’s goal of 100% purchased electricity from renewable sources in 2020, the facilitation of energy performance contracts and other externally funded energy conservation projects that have saved the university millions of dollars, and the development and construction of the campus solar canopy project - the first large-scale renewable energy project on campus.
We had the opportunity to sit down with Susan to learn more about E&E’s role on campus, her vision for the team, as well as how E&E will contribute to our campus sustainability goals, including the recently announced accelerated timeline for campus-wide carbon neutrality. It's all wrapped up in six questions for Susan Corry.
1) What is the role of Engineering and Energy at the university?
“E & E was created to provide energy-related support services to the campus. Its original focus was financial management of energy supply, and conservation, especially as it relates to carbon reduction. Engineering Services and Facilities Performance were folded in during 2013 to more holistically address energy consumption. Key goals were to address energy efficiency earlier in the design process for new buildings and major renovations, and improve energy efficiency of existing facilities through retro-commissioning and operational changes. Most recently, the NextGen Energy Program was created to guide the renewal of the Combined Heat and Power (CHP) and its distributed energy systems.”
2) How have approaches to energy conservation evolved during your career?
“Energy efficiency and conservation have become a priority rather than an afterthought. LEED, Energy Star and other certifications mean that conservation is now being addressed front and center.”
3) What do you see as immediate priorities or first steps toward meeting President Pines’ accelerated timetable for carbon neutrality for the university?
“I don’t think that anything has changed in terms of what we need to do. We will need to be more aggressive about changes we can make in current operations. We already partner with Operations, Maintenance and Utilities (OM&U). We will need to provide them with new tools and training so they can make informed decisions about operational efficiency for individual buildings.”
4) What is one thing the campus community may be surprised to learn about E&E?
“I think the campus community would be surprised at the breadth and scope of services that E&E provides with a very limited staff of less than 20 full time people. From the number of utility accounts we manage, to the coordination of electric, gas and renewable energy supply contracts for UMD, other USM institutions and MD state agencies, to the engineering and technical support services we provide to other FM units, campus wide energy data collection, analysis and reporting, development and implementation of energy efficiency improvement projects, oversight of the Combined Heat and Power plant and its distributed energy systems, it is an incredibly vast array of engineering and energy services that we provide to the campus community in support of its research and educational mission, largely behind the scenes.”
5) Do you have a project that you are most proud of in your time at UMD?
“That would be the Solar Canopy Project, a great visual reminder of our commitment to carbon neutrality and sustainability. It placed more than 9,000 solar panels on parking garages around campus.”
6) What do you enjoy most about being a Terp?
“I really enjoy the campus community. The commitment of the students is fun to see. They give me optimism for the future.”
In concluding, Susan pointed out that E&E is here to serve the students and the rest of the campus community. “Energy touches all aspects of our lives, but most of us don’t think about it until we don’t have it. Our goal is to deliver energy services in the most reliable and cost-effective way possible.”
Congratulations, Susan on your new position. We look forward to future efforts by E&E on behalf of UMD.