Student in Focus: Peggy Sutherland

Peggy is a second year masters student in the Department of Technology and Society’s Energy, Technology and Policy Program.

She has as an MBA (Long Island University)  and a BS (Long Island University, biology) and worked previously for the American Institute of Physics, the American Physical Society, and Brookhaven National Laboratory.

In Fall 2016, Peggy worked in an internship for the Suffolk County, Energy Office,

“I had a supervisor, who has since become a dear friend, who understood how people evolve and outgrow their positions. That is how I started my graduate work: by feeling a bit ‘root bound’ in my professional situation.”

Prior to September 2016, Suffolk County Energy Director Lisa Broughton and Chief Engineer Michael Monaghan had identified New York State and Federal programs that would offer recognition for and technical support to expand the County’s ongoing energy initiatives. An internship in the Energy Office offered Peggy an opportunity to analyze the requirements of the programs and develop submission materials for programs that were within reach. One New York State program, Clean Energy Communities, quickly brought focus to the work in late September by offering a $250,000 grant to the first two municipalities with an approved submission. To get the grant,  Suffolk County needed to complete two additional High Impact Action Items: Benchmarking and Clean Energy Upgrades.  Over several weeks, Peggy identified the appropriate data sources from within the County, and collected/scrubbed/loaded operational energy data into the required web application, Portfolio Manager. Data from forty-nine diverse projects (from lighting upgrades  to installation of combined heat and power) were compiled and a 10% reduction in greenhouse gas emissions from the baseline was demonstrated.  Peggy’s analysis also identified opportunities for new cost savings and additional sustainable energy initiatives.  On December 14, the Suffolk County Legislature approved the resolution  authorizing the County to commit to benchmarking County Buildings. The report on energy use intensity, greenhouse gas emission, and energy performance scores is now publicly available on the County website and will be published annually.

“The experience at Suffolk County was exactly what I was looking for – an opportunity to learn about energy policies and programs at the local government level, and to get hands-on experience with operational energy data and systems. The internship also provided ongoing opportunities to make an impact locally. Because of the internship, I am participating in the Clean Energy Leadership Task Force, am involved in local C3E Women in Energy initiatives, and have a provisional position as Senior Energy Coordinator for Suffolk County.”

In Peggy’s new position with the Department of Public Works for Suffolk County, she is leading projects to develop an energy dashboard and a carbon footprint for the county, coordinating energy conservation projects between design and construction stages, and teaming with facility managers, financial managers, and engineers to identify improvements in energy use throughout the county.