Office of Sustainability  >  Spotlights  >  Staff Spotlight  

Staff Spotlight

Staff members at Mason have a very unique and interesting perspective at Mason. They are typically responsible for keeping the wheels turning smoothly to ensure that the rest of the community (faculty and students) can accomplish all they set out to do. Due to their supportive roles, staff members typically share a particular degree of investment and stake in bringing Mason to its highest potential. The staff members below have initiated holistic, lasting change for a greener Mason.

Pat Buchanan, University Energy Manager

January 2011


Pat Buchanan is no stranger to large scale advancements in energy-related technology. Over the course of his extensive career, he has seen the energy sector make the switch from mechanical and pneumatic controls to direct digital controls. His career has been focused around mechanical and building control systems for over forty years. As the University Energy Manager at Mason, Pat is responsible for all aspects of energy at each of Mason's campuses.

At the early age of sixteen Pat clearly knew that his interests were centered in the areas of energy and technology. He began his career with American Refrigeration Inc. making seventy-five cents per hour. After graduating from Oakton High School in Vienna, Virginia, he completed a four year apprenticeship through the Commonwealth of Virginia. He later completed the apprenticeship program he went on to acquire a Master's Certificate in HVAC, Plumbing, Gas fitting, and got a Backflow Prevention Device License. He is also a member of the Association of Energy Engineers and the American Society of Heating Refrigeration and Air-conditioning Engineers, Inc. He also is a Certified Energy Engineer.

As he continued on his career path, Pat could see the upcoming shift from mechanical and pneumatic controls to computerized energy systems. He had a sense that this shift would cause the field to grow exponentially and would revolutionize the outdated and less-efficient energy systems of the past. Another new development in this field was Energy Performance Contracting. Outside contractors were hired to do energy and efficiency audits for institutions. Over the past seventeen years, Pat has been involved with over $40 million worth of energy-related projects.

He worked within the Fairfax County Government for 34 years and then, in 2005 he made the switch over to Mason. After joining Mason he became a member of both the Association of Facilities Engineering and International Facilities Management Association. Last year, he completed a Professional Certificate in Sustainability for Existing Buildings and a Professional Certificate in Facilities Management through Mason's Office of Continuing and Professional Education. Pat explained that, "In 2002, we had 3.5 million square feet of building space up at Mason. Now we have 8.5 million square feet (and growing) and we've managed to keep our energy costs at the previous 2002 levels." This is just one of the many examples of the important work Pat and his staff does for Mason.

Mason has installed and utilizes a comprehensive Building Automation System linking every facility by Fiber Optics and Ethernet to the Facilities Management Energy Management Office. Energy savings are achieved through improved monitoring and control capability for key systems: Heating, cooling, ventilation and lighting. Verification for proper temperatures, set points, setback or shutdown of systems, monitoring of energy usage in real-time and detection of degraded energy efficiency contributes to more efficient operation and expected energy savings. He points out that, "Energy use in buildings accounts for approximately 75% of overall energy use on campus. About 40% of energy use is from HVAC." In an effort to lessen the HVAC demand, Mason partnered with Siemens on two Energy Performance Contracts at a value of $18,590,302. As a result of those efforts Mason has realized annual energy savings of $1,650,000.

As part of these contracts, summer and winter temperature set points were implemented for all campus buildings. All buildings are set to 70 degrees (daytime) in the winter, 65 (nighttime) in the winter, 76 (daytime) in the summer and 80 (nighttime) in the summer. Occupancy sensors for lighting control were installed, building lighting was retrofitted with T-8 lamps and electronic ballasts, new energy saving HVAC equipment was installed, water saving devices such as shower heads, low flow toilets, .5 gpm faucet aerators were also installed. Additionally, a well was dug by the CHCP to provide water for make-up to the chillers and boilers, 1,800 parking and pathway lights were retrofitted to LED lights saving over 3 million KWH of electric energy. A vegetated roof was also installed on the lower level of Research I.

By utilizing the monies received from the demand curtailment program with Energy Connect, installation of custom thermal blankets over the expansion joints and large valves on the high temperature hot water lines in the underground tunnels were installed. These blankets are specially designed to save energy, retain radiant heat, minimize insulation maintenance, and improve the surrounding work environment. Now that the thermal blankets are installed, they are expected to provide approximately $1.4 million in savings over the next 12 years.

When asked about future projects for Mason's campus, Pat had a lot to share. There are long range plans for converting the rest of the campus outdoor lighting (metal halide, high pressure sodium and incandescent wall packs) to LED (Light-Emitting Diode). LED lights last about 50 times longer than their incandescent counterparts. Also, incandescent bulbs can cause up to 196 pounds of CO2 emission each year (assuming it is left on for ten hours each day). An LED equivalent will only cause 63 pounds of CO2 over the same time-span. This last point is an especially important one to Mason as it is committed to eventually reaching a state of carbon neutrality through various carbon emission-reducing efforts.

He also indicated that he'd like to work on the campus' 'building envelope'. The building envelope consists of the areas that lead to and from the building. According to Pat, a large amount of energy is lost through inefficient insulation on windows and doors and certain types of windows themselves. Measures like revolving doors, insulation retrofits, using Low-E glass in new window installations, and reducing the use of handicapped doors to only the individuals that need to use them would help to recover a substantial amount of energy lost to the outdoors. A complete thermal imaging map for each of Mason's campuses was done as a part of the 1st Energy Performance Contract. An intern working in the sustainability office is working on identifying areas that show the most heat loss from each building.

A few of the things Pat would like to see changed at Mason are: the removal of office space heaters, litter-reduction across campus, and improvements on energy-wasting maintenance calls. Space heaters used to heat individual offices or rooms use extra energy and have adverse affects on the building HVAC System. Additionally, most heaters brought from home are not commercial code compliant and should not be used here at Mason. The space heater can throw off the room sensor which impacts other parts of a floor that can make it too cold or too hot.

Pat has a keen eye for beauty in nature- this is obvious through the exquisite nature photographs in his office. One of his main frustrations is to see Mason's beautiful landscape littered with cigarette butts (which do not break down) and trash. He would love to see Mason's Patriots take more pride in their campus and put cigarette butts, trash, and recycling in the appropriate receptacles. Lastly, Pat stressed that if a problem such as a leaky faucet, broken light, or any other maintenance-related issue that involves wasting energy should be reported. He reminded us that Work Control can be contacted by calling (703) 993-2525 for such issues. cutive Chef Peter Schoebel is honored as the Sustainability Hero for November of 2009 because of his belief in and efforts towards sustainable dining. We, at the Office of Sustainability have noted his dedication over the past year. We salute you, Chef Peter! Thank you and keep up the good work!

Dan Waxman

July 2011


It all began with water. Well, at least that was the case for Dan Waxman. This start is surprisingly fitting, when one learns about Dan's career. Raised near the Cape Fear River in North Carolina, it's hardly shocking that Dan Waxman's early years working with the environment were solidly devoted to water quality issues. Even at a young age, Dan was acutely aware of the importance of preserving the environment around him. As he put it, he recognized that that the natural environment was inescapable and needed to be maintained. It's comprised of "the air we breathe, the water we drink, it's all around us. It's where we live, work, and play. It impacts us every day."

In his high school days, as the president and vice-president of his school's environmental group, Dan organized cleanups and food drives for cats and dogs at his local animal shelter. However, what really caught Dan's interest was his work with water quality. In one of his first internships, Dan worked with Cape River Watch. With them, he developed a benthic macroinvertebrates monitoring program and designed signage work for a stormwater best management practices park. Experiences like these led Dan to continue with work relating to stormwater management in college. While at The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill (UNC) he was a water quality technician at the Department of Environment, Health, and Safety.

As Dan spent more time completing his Environmental Studies degree at UNC, his activities and interests expanded. He became involved with student affairs, where he was involved with student government where he served as the first Chair of Environmental Issues. After graduating from UNC armed with significant knowledge about the complexities of environmental science and policy, Dan received a Nonprofit Management Certificate from Duke University Continuing Studies.

He later applied and was accepted to graduate school in the Master of Public Administration program at Mason. Dan started working at Mason at the Arlington Campus in University Life. Dan later started working with Mark Kraner in University Services (now called Auxiliary Services) to develop and initiate sustainability projects. The projects began in the areas of Dining and Print Services. These initiatives began in 2008, eventually expanded to 10 areas in 2009, and hit 11 areas in 2010.

By 2010, Dan morphed these sustainability projects into a more cohesive program entitled Auxiliary Enterprises AE Green. Through this program, Dan was able to streamline Auxiliary Enterprises' sustainability efforts and communicate a consistent message. As of 2011, AE Green has expanded into areas of Auxiliary Enterprises, which comprises of entities such as Mason Banking, Patriot Center, Child Development Center, and Mason Vending. In just one year, AE Green tackled over 100 projects.

To help assist with projects in AE Green, support has been received from Green Works!, Coca-Cola, The Office of Diversity Programs and Services, and Water Management, Inc. Many university offices have also collaborated with AE Green on projects and efforts to help enable projects to be successful including the Office of Sustainability, University Life, Office of Student Involvement, Office of Diversity Programs and Services, Facilities Administration, Facilities Management, Alumni Affairs, and University Relations.

Unsurprisingly, Dan has no plans to slow down. He is currently finalizing the AE Green 2011 report which is scheduled for release in Jan/Feb 2012. He is also actively involved in leading AE sustainability initiatives and AE Green communications. He is also actively involved with many campus sustainability initiatives.

At Mason, Dan has spent his time finding creative ways to turn his passion for the environment into a message that has gotten the Mason community to share his passion. When asked "what actions the community at Mason could take to have a positive impact on the environment?", Dan commented, "It's all about daily impact. While recycling is important, is taking thinking beyond recycling. If you are printing, think about printing double-sided or printing 2 to 4 pages on each sheet of paper. You can even print nine PowerPoint slides to a page. One can use reusable beverage containers, such as Nalgenes. Finally, one can take part in campus service projects. Small impacts can make a large impact. By doing these small efforts you can make a difference and reduce your environmental footprint. Furthermore, you're leading by example, bettering our planet, and saving money."

When asked about where he saw himself in the future, Dan replied that while his interest in water still remains, he has become increasingly interested in higher education. In fact, Dan was recently accepted into the doctoral program for education at Mason, and intends to specialize in higher education. As such, Dan hopes to eventually work as a senior administrator at a university that embraces sustainability. As he noted, "College is a great time for identity development. Universities are training the future of many fields while students still are in college. Having an impact is very real; you're creating the next set of environmental leaders who will impact our nation. It's important to educate them about sustainability for our generation and future generations."