Energy & Sustainability Office, Energy Corps, and You: An Interview with Ashley Kossakowski

Ashley shares: her experiences and knowledge from her involvement in sustainability, how students and faculty alike can get involved in becoming more sustainable on campus, as well as a few sneak peeks to some exciting upcoming initiatives...


Via the Energy Corps Website, 11/5/13

Ashley is a Cornell University junior majoring in Science of Natural & Environmental Systems. She is also an intern in the Energy & Sustainability Office (ESO), as well as the Project Manager & Chair on Energy Corps here at Cornell University. In this interview, Ashley shares: her experiences and knowledge from her involvement in sustainability, how students and faculty alike can get involved in becoming more sustainable on campus, as well as a few sneak peeks to some exciting upcoming initiatives that will really make a difference on the Cornell Campus!

Tell us a little bit more about yourself!

Ashley: Sure! On Energy Corps I am the Project Management Chair. Each Project Manager takes on their own project, which they are trying to complete by the end of the semester. I have a team of 11 people and we will meet with the facility managers and find out what the energy efficient alternatives are for each of the projects so we can come up with solutions.

How long have you been interning with the Energy & Sustainability Office?

Ashley: I have been interning with the ESO since October 2012.

What does the Energy & Sustainability Office do on the Cornell Campus?

Ashley: Well, the Energy & Sustainability Offices are two separate entities. The Energy Office takes care of all of the things on campus dealing with providing the campus energy and finding the sources for that energy. The Sustainability Office really deals with all of the sustainability initiatives that take place on campus. So, we have some people who work on the branding for sustainable energy on campus and people who work on social media, etc. For example, one of my responsibilities is running the Facebook and Twitter pages. So I post everything on the Sustainable Cornell Facebook and Twitter pages. My direct supervisor is Erin Moore in the Energy Office and she is the Energy Outreach Coordinator.

How did the ESO and Energy Corps become so connected?

Ashley: Energy Corps does similar initiatives to that of the ESO. One of the programs that the ESO has is the Energy Conservation Initiative, which is a $46 million fund, which is designated for large-scale energy conservation projects. For example, they would renovate an entire HVAC (heating, ventilation, and air conditioning) system in a building or replace all of the energy inefficient lights. These projects that the ESO oversees are similar to the projects Energy Corps runs but the ESO does it on a much larger scale. So Energy Corps works on some of the smaller projects from the ESO.

How did this relationship between the ESO and Energy Corps start?

Ashley: The relationship between the ESO and Energy Corps has existed for a while. Energy Corps communicated with ESO to get funding for their first project in Mann Library. The relationship was strengthened when I became the Energy Conservation Intern and began communicating with the Energy & Sustainability Offices. Energy Corps was able to begin to identify the projects they wanted to work on. As time went on, the ESO became more and more involved with approving Energy Corp projects and the ESO also helps with a lot of the funding for Energy Corps to carry out those projects. They have also been very involved in terms of checking the investment analysis for projects and analyzing the surveys.

I’ve heard a bit about the Think Big Live Green campaign, could you share more about that?

Ashley: Sure! The Think Big Live Green campaign is in the College of Engineering and it is to help the College of Engineering become much more sustainable, especially in labs and offices. We have a Green Labs and Offices program that allows these spaces to get certified as green. There are different levels of green within this certification. With this program we have Green Ambassadors, comprised of faculty and staff in the college who are really interested in sustainability and have signed up to help with the campaign. On the 24th of October, labs and offices had the opportunity to let us know how many Eco Strips and Cozy Toes they would need, and then, the ESO provided them to those offices and labs for free, to help with the initiative. Eco Strips are basically an energy efficient alternative to power strips. Cozy Toes are heated mats that are an alternative to space heaters. The Cozy Toes use 75 Watts of energy as opposed to space heaters, which use about 1200 watts. So we are really trying to get faculty and staff involved in these projects.

How can students get more involved with these initiatives on campus?

Ashley: Later this semester, within the Think Big Live Green Campaign, we are starting an Energy Smackdown Competition, which will run from November 11 – January 2. Each building in the College of Engineering will be competing to see which can reduce its energy use the most, and the building that wins gets a complete energy upgrade, which is a pretty great deal! So while there is a big faculty and staff component there is also a student involvement from the College of Engineering since they are also using those facilities.

Are there any other upcoming projects?

Ashley: Every year, in the spring, we participate in a competition called Campus Conservation Nationals. That is a competition between the residence halls to see which one can reduce their energy the most. That also gets the students involved since they are the ones using the energy in those spaces. Our goal is to really get people excited and come out to the events the ESO hosts to really reduce the energy use on campus as much as possible.

Are there any projects you are excited about that are happening now?

Ashley: One major project that Energy Corps is doing in collaboration with ESO this semester is in Sage Hall. Sage Hall contacted the ESO for an energy upgrade of the building so the Energy Conservation Initiative Fund is taking care of a lot of the larger projects within that and Energy Corps is taking on some of the smaller projects like upgrading the light bulbs in elevators, stairways, hallways, and one of the classrooms. So that is one of the biggest collaboration projects that I am excited about.

Is there any project you would like to see in the future?

Ashley: One thing I would really like to see is the Energy & Sustainability Office and Energy Corps foster their relationship even more. Energy Corps is beginning to work on some bigger projects that may actually go through. One is renovating the Willard Straight Hall Memorial Room, which is a pretty big project. As well as projects in Malott Hall and Statler Hall. Strengthening the relationship with ESO would be very helpful to Energy Corps as they begin to take on these larger scale projects.

Is there anything else you would like to share?

The people who work in the ESO really work their hardest to help students do the things they want to do. Both of these groups, ESO and Energy Corps, help Cornell as a whole and give the students great hands-on experiences. I wouldn’t have had the career experience that I have now without Energy Corps and the ESO. The connection between these groups really helps to create this larger impact. There are a lot of people on campus interested in sustainability but don’t necessarily have the means or connections to do. Through the ESO and Energy Corps, we are able to give students that connection and give them the ability to do a lot of the things they want to do on campus.

Big thanks to Ashley for sharing her experience with the Energy & Sustainability Office and Energy Corps. Keep posted for a new blog post next week!

For more information on the Energy & Sustainability Office check out their website at:

Like the ESO on Facebook and follow on Twitter @SustainCornell to stay up to date on all of their sustainability initiatives on the Cornell campus!

For further information, you can reach Ashley at or the Energy Sustainability Office at or by phone at 607-255-6375

Views expressed in News posts may not be those of Cornell University. No endorsement is implied.