Solar Decathlon: Cementing Foundations in Decarbonization CareersFriday, March 24, 2023
By Deborah Cloutier, Chief Sustainability Officer, Legence
The Solar Decathlon empowers thousands of talented students to take up careers in the clean economy, producing tangible benefits for numerous companies, including Legence.
In 2009, the Solar Decathlon is where three soon-to-be Legence employees—Ben Hobbs, Drew Roberts, and Johnathan Stewart—got their impressive start in net-zero energy design, setting the foundation for their lifelong work at CMTA, a Legence company. Throughout the competition, they designed and built the mechanical, electrical, and plumbing systems of a net-zero energy-efficient house.
The Solar Decathlon Experience Pays Off
Using clean energy and advanced technologies to lower energy costs, minimize greenhouse gas emissions, and improve user experience in the built environment continues to be at the heart of the projects Ben, Drew, and Johnathan lead at CMTA.
Today, they oversee the design and construction of projects with immense social value—including K–8 schools, universities, and hospitals intended to reduce carbon emissions and improve their local communities.
The team often works alongside school administrations to determine the best path forward to achieve energy efficiency for certain facilities, benefiting students through cleaner air and water, improved health, ample natural light, and efficient HVAC systems. CMTA’s energy-efficient strategies are measured, perfected, and implemented into future design-and-build projects, helping scale the impact of each successive project while minimizing risk.
In addition to fostering healthy and sustainable spaces, CMTA instructs K–8 students about their school’s energy consumption and real-time data by creating digital learning components and guided tours. SPHERE—an interactive dashboard that makes conceptualizing difficult-to-grasp subject matter more accessible—is also often employed as a way of connecting students to the built environment in a meaningful manner.
The Power of Upgrading the Built Environment
Leveraging critical data from its modern building sites is an essential part of CMTA’s business model. Once a project is complete, CMTA’s team analyzes monthly energy-use data to identify continuous improvements and incorporate valuable information into other projects.
In collaboration with Baltimore City Public Schools, CMTA worked to replace two aging urban elementary/middle schools, driving down energy use in buildings by examining all energy sources. This drastic reduction resulted in Baltimore City Public Schools being awarded the Maryland Energy Authority Zero Energy Grant to purchase the renewable energy source for the project.
CMTA recently utilized data from this project to develop a third nearby, highly-efficient, and sustainable educational facility. By designing and building K-8 schools in underserved communities, CMTA’s team helps bring equitable buildings to children and families across the country. These improvements have led to greater teacher retention, fewer absences and suspensions, and more days of learning in thermal comfort.
Why Legence Sponsors the Solar Decathlon
Legence is a proud sponsor of the U.S. Department of Energy’s Solar Decathlon. The annual challenge inspires young generations to get involved with designing and building high-performance, low-carbon buildings that mitigate climate change and improve the quality of life for occupants and makes valuable contributions to the industry’s breadth of social capital.
Empowering students to design sustainable buildings is a clear demonstration of living Legence’s purpose. Having grown up with the imperative to address climate change, this generation understands that solving it is non-negotiable. Harnessing this conviction will drive innovation and progress toward sustainability in the built environment, and we look forward to putting into practice the creativity and new solutions that future students achieve through the Solar Decathlon.
To learn more about how you can channel your passion for sustainability in the built environment into a sustainable career, explore career opportunities at Legence.