In all organizations, employees are the greatest asset. In fact, the Port of Portland recently launched a new careers website with the tag line – “We’re not what you’d expect,” to welcome the next group of innovators.
Port of Portland commits to yearly environmental objectives and targets, applying the newest operational practices to advance organization-wide sustainability. Our success is the product of the skills and passions of our professional workforce. In this occasional series, we profile the people who make the difference – changing trade for good.
Learn more in the interview below with Mia Yang, Port of Portland Project Engineer, who works in Energy Management.
Describe your educational and professional background.
I have a B.S. in Environmental Science from University of Washington and a M.S. in Renewable Energy Engineering from Oregon Institute of Technology. Interesting part-time positions I’ve had include being a park ranger at Mt. Rainier National Park and a forestry technician in South Dakota’s Black Hills for the U.S. Forest Service.
What drew your interest in a Science, Technology, Engineering, Math (STEM) career?
My family inspired an interest in nature in me. In my hometown of Xi’an in Shaanxi, China, I had early experiences with the natural world – discovering different plants and tiny creatures in the forest. As my educational career advanced, I switched from Forestry to Engineering. I want to implement the solutions. Working in the engineering field you can help solve the problems that could impact the big picture, like reduce our global dependency on fossil fuels – it’s a different way of approaching environmental change.
Describe some of your primary projects at the Port.
I coordinate the Port’s involvement with the Strategic Energy Management program through the Energy Trust of Oregon, ensuring that the Port meets its energy reduction goals. For example, I work on night audits to verify building and individual work stations power down nightly, and make adjustments or give feedback as needed. I also analyze building systems to look for operational level changes to reduce energy consumption.
In addition, I work both internally with the design team and externally with Energy Trust of Oregon to ensure Port’s new constructions – Rental Car Quick Turnaround facility and Concourse E extension – implement energy efficient measures and receive incentives for this effort. Overall, The Port’s investment and commitment to energy efficiency continually impresses me!
What innovative trends do you see in your field?
I recently learned about the solar road – instead of concrete, solar panels are installed as roadway. They are structurally built to allow for car passage, and collect solar energy and convert it to electricity. California is piloting them in the Los Angeles area. In addition, the overall industrial trend is moving towards sustainable design by incorporating not only passive design techniques but also renewable energy into applications.
What “Green Tips” would you give to fellow Oregonians?
Make sure your home is well-insulated; inspect the windows and doors as less air infiltration saves energy. Be sure to seal any cracks or openings you see. Change to energy-efficient CFL and LED light bulbs is another quick and effective way to cut down your monthly power bill. If you are upgrading appliances look for Energy Star certified options. The U.S. Department of Energy and Energy Trust of Oregon are great resources for homeowner tips and savings opportunities.