Project: Developing Museum-Specific Environmental Management Systems
School: Ferris State University
Major: Dual Majoring in Architecture & Sustainability and Facility Management
The primary focus of my summer internship with the Office of Facilities Management and Reliability (OFMR) is the development of a draft Environmental Management Systems (EMS) manual. An EMS manual is essentially an outline that helps standardize environmental practices across the organization. Currently, each Smithsonian facility has its own way of doing things and its own guiding documents. The EMS manual will serve as a standard, central document all facilities can use when dealing with environmental compliance, operations and maintenance (O&M) tasks, record keeping, permit and regulation requirements and standards. Its ultimate goal is improve overall efficiency within OFMR.
The drafting process is a lengthy one, since it involves four phases: Planning, Doing, Checking, and Acting. The planning phase is the longest and most enduring. It requires gathering as much information as possible about current O&M practices and procedures, gathering specific mechanical system data about each facility, and then analyzing this information to complete an environmental profile for each Smithsonian building. During this process, I ensure constant coordination and compliance with the International Organization for Standardization (ISO) 14001 framework, which contains a generic EMS action plan any organization can use to achieve or improve environmental compliance.
I have spent much of my time researching and studying several Smithsonian Institution mechanical systems– boilers, emergency generators, fuel storage tanks, and paint booths—as well as various environmental regulations. Since most of the Smithsonian Institution’s facilities are in the District of Columbia, Virginia, and Maryland, I have reviewed permitting and compliance regulations in these states and at the federal level. To further aid in the entire EMS process, I have also organized several vendor meetings and product demonstrations to gauge the feasibility and cost analysis of implementing an EMS software.
Upon my arrival to the Smithsonian Institution a month ago, I did not really know what to expect from my internship, other than I wanted to gain hands on real world experience. Thus far, my internship has far surpassed my expectations. I have been able to be a part of numerous project meetings that included various contractors, supervisors, and several internal teams too. Although the vast majority of the experience that I am receiving is in the realm of O&M, I have also had the opportunity to delve into project management and even some engineering services. I have no doubts that the remainder of my time interning with the Smithsonian Institution will be equally as exciting and beneficial. Once I return to Ferris State University this fall, I will certainly encourage others within my facility management program to consider an internship with the Smithsonian Institution in the future.