MiraCosta College Energy Conservation Program Manager
It’s more than just turning off the lights when you leave the room. That’s the message from Madeleine Falco, who began working at MiraCosta College on Dec. 14 as its energy conservation program manager.
“I go out and observe and do everything from looking at water systems to checking mechanical rooms in buildings to see if there are ways to optimize equipment and systems,” Falco said. “I’m trying to get the college to conserve energy and save money while making sure people are comfortable.”
That means getting people to do the little things, such as turning off computers when they leave, and the big things, such as shutting down chillers during breaks when no one is on campus. “Basically, we’re trying to get people to change their habits,” she said.
In the short time that she’s been here, Falco has been meeting with engineers and systems operators and inspecting the inner workings of every building.
The results can be impressive. During a 10-day, winter break shutdown of the district’s campuses in Encinitas and Oceanside, MiraCosta College saved $17,000 on its electric bill – or 25 percent more than it saved during a winter shutdown the previous year.
“What a lot of campuses will do is leave things running even if there is no one there,” Falco said. “But if you go on a 10-day holiday break, there’s no reason to have the heating and air conditioning systems on unless you want to waste a lot of energy.”
Falco is from the Inland Empire and grew up on her grandfather’s farm in Ontario. After earning an associate degree in journalism from Chafee College, a community college in Rancho Cucamonga, she transferred to St. Mary’s College in the Northern California town of Moraga, earning a bachelor’s degree in communications. Falco then built a successful marketing career that included positions with the San Francisco Giants, the Anaheim Angels and the Walt Disney Co. She has always been a conservationist at heart though (“My utility bills are like $13 a month), and she jumped at the opportunity to work for the Southern California Tribal Chairmen’s Association as an energy conservation outreach and education coordinator.
She is working at MiraCosta College through a district contract with Cenergistic, an energy conservation consulting firm whose clients include K-12 systems and community colleges across the country.
“We teach people how to use energy more efficiently,” said Falco, who will be writing a monthly column in the MiraCostan, a weekly online newsletter that highlights the people and programs at MiraCosta College.
Hiring Falco as part of a contract with Cenergistic falls into the MiraCosta Community College District’s 2014-2017 Strategic Plan. Among the institutional objectives listed in the document: “Integrate sustainability into the college environment, culture, and experience, and extend outreach to the communities we serve.”
Falco has already won over more than her share of fans.
“Madeleine has been doing a great job meeting with everybody and looking for ways to run our campuses more efficiently,” said Director of Facilities Tom Macias.
Falco said she couldn’t be happier. “I enjoy what I do and I love the campuses here,” she said. “Everybody I’ve met has been so friendly and welcoming. It’s a great place to be.”