Sustainability Champion

The Office for Sustainability celebrates our friends and colleagues who work tirelessly to advance sustainability on campus and in the community. We call such individuals Sustainability Champions, because they are champions helping us create a culture of sustainability while improving quality of life for all. 

DeVon Miller, building commissioning specialist, FACILITIES MANAGEMENT    

DeVon Miller works with incredible enthusiasm to make buildings on campus use less energy, now and into the future. He is Western Michigan University’s Building Commissioning Specialist and the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) Owner’s Representative. He also serves on the board of directors at the US Green Building Council’s (USGBC) West Michigan chapter as Treasurer. These roles provide numerous opportunities and experiences to help drive building, renovation, and maintenance projects toward sustainability. 

As building commissioning specialist, DeVon ensures that new building or renovation projects meet or exceed the University’s high standards in terms of use and construction. This role has considerable overlap with USGBC, the non profit that developed the green  building rating system known as LEED. This combination of roles has made him proficient in green building and smart maintenance principles. Throughout DeVon’s 20 year career he has continued to champion efforts to make buildings be more sustainable.

“People [are] being a little bit more innovative to be more sustainable. I know we are trying to get people to think outside the box and not do the same thing that we’ve always done. I’m starting to see that more and more. Heritage hall is a perfect example of that, it’s our first LEED-Platinum building on campus.”

LEED serves as a foundation to produce robust, highly efficient, and economical green buildings. DeVon hopes to see more buildings on campus certified in the near future. Since 2009, a push to get new and existing buildings certified has been in play and as a result WMU now has 16 LEED-certified facilities. He emphasizes the potential existing buildings have to become certified (and more energy efficient) if inhabitants and consumers of buildings maintain them using sustainable principles and practices. These include properly disposing of waste, turning off lights and computers when leaving rooms, purchasing Energy Star rated appliances and devices, and using green products to clean (a practice the WMU custodial staff currently embraces). 

Students are a key leverage for advancing DeVon’s certification ambitions. In the past, he worked with Chris Caprara to provide a Fundamentals of Sustainability Operation and Maintenance of Existing Facilities course for The College of Engineering. This gave students the opportunity to learn how the LEED O+M certification can be applied, as well as prepare them to sit for the LEED AP O+M exam. Courses like this are a win-win for students and the University. Students are given exceptional skills and experiences not offered in a typical classroom, while the University can reallocate resources to have the most impact. Students are encouraged to reach out to the registrar, directors, or heads of departments regarding courses they want offered. DeVon is optimistic that requests will be granted if students exude sincere vocalized interest. After all, Miller is just one of many who work tirelessly every day to ensure the students love their time attending WMU.

“I think a lot of students bring a lot of innovative things to the older generation, I’d just like to see them get more involved and more vocal on what they would like to see on campus from a sustainability standpoint.”

 

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