Efficient sustainability projects require input, feedback

He has a bachelor’s degree in engineering, an MBA and both a bachelor’s and master’s degree in architecture.

Rich Michal also has been a college professor, worked in construction management and worked within the utilities industry.

In February, he left his adjunct faculty position at the University of Arizona and moved to Indiana to become Butler University’s facilities engineer.

“This position is really something that marries my interests and my experience,” Michal said.
Interim vice president of operations Gerald Carlson said that the facilities engineer position seemed like a great fit for Michal because he’s a highly educated individual with a lot of great ideas.

As facilities engineer, Michal is responsible for assisting operations staff with construction projects. His individual duties include tracking and analyzing utilities and energy usage.

Carlson said utility usage has always been tracked, but for more than two years, there was no one to analyze it.

“His job is to make recommendations, and if we can do them in-house, our staff will do those,” Carlson said. “If it takes dollars that are larger than my budget can handle, then we’ll go to the administration and ask for funding.”

One of Michal’s main goals is reducing Butler’s carbon footprint. He said he plans to do so by making individuals responsible for their own energy consumption.

In order to hold individuals accountable, Michal said operations considered shifting utility responsibilities down to Butler’s individual units and departments.

“I know the last thing any department wants to hear is that they’re going to be responsible for an additional expense,” Michal said, “but until I give departments actual responsibility for paying their own utilities, it’s not necessarily going to be the highest priority.”

For a new residence hall proposed in the Master Plan, Michal said the operations staff is looking into having residents track their energy usage on their smartphones.

He said that he thinks the most effective way to affect behavioral change is to give people responsibility and make them aware of how much energy they’re using.

“I’m passionate about where we can go,” Michal said. “It excites me to think that we could be the first university that can track our energy consumption and carbon footprint on an individual basis. To me, that’s unprecedented, a perfect opportunity.”

Michal said he’s looking forward to future opportunities.

“My position is important, but in my opinion, it has to be a larger effort,” Michal said. “We need input and feedback from all the stakeholders.”

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