Directing change toward sustainability
Tim Wentz is originally from Lincoln and attended UNL before working for 19 years in the industry as a mechanical contractor. He has a passion for sustainability and conservation. With his background in contracting, his primary role at UNL is to teach construction management. Tim is also chair of several committees and advise students. However, for the next two years he will be fulfilling his obligations to ASHRAE (American Society of Heating, Refrigerating and Air-Conditioning Engineers) as the president-elect and president. ASHRAE works to guide the built environment to be more sustainable by writing energy codes, standards, and guidebooks used in more than 130 countries around the world. His current role is to oversee the Members Council and its 179 chapters.
How is your work (research and academics) related to sustainability?
All of my work is related to sustainability, especially through ASHRAE. ASHRAE’s mission is “to advance the arts and sciences of heating, ventilating, air conditioning and refrigerating to serve humanity and promote a sustainable world.” Their books, standards and guidelines are used by the design community as the gold standard for the design of the built environment.
What motivated you to be a professional in this field?
I am a fourth-generation mechanical contractor. I saw sustainability as an avenue to set our firm apart from others, so we focused on sustainability early on. It appeals to my logical side to be a good steward of the environment, and it appeals to my passion to solve problems.
What is one memory in your field/areas of interest that you would want others to know?
I learned early on that you can never stop learning and change happens rapidly. For example, my first year at UNL was 1971; one year before, the Hewlett-Packard’s first scientific hand calculator was available. Before hand calculators were available, slide rules were used to do calculations, and I still have the slide rule I was required to purchase in 1971.
How are you preparing students to be a professional in your field?
First, I aim to teach them to think critically and creatively because change is rapid. Secondly, I hope to inspire students to seek their passions.
How does your research/teaching solve some of our contemporary environmental problems?
I personally work on the management and leadership side of the equation instead of the research side. However, ASHRAE funds 60-80 projects at any given time, and funds of $4-5 million or research per year. The non-profit ASHRAE is focused on making the world a more sustainable place and funding research is one method of applying our mission. Through our fundraising efforts we are able to fund research which leads to our publications and education, resulting in a better industry.
What does sustainability mean to you?
To me sustainability is using our resources in such a way that our children and grandchildren have the same opportunities we had. We have to be strong about conserving our water and energy, making healthy buildings, and giving back to our future.
Why should UNL care about sustainability?
UNL is looked at as a leader, especially in our state. We have to guide the state toward a productive future. Most importantly, we need to walk the walk and make sure we are following the same standards we are teaching our students and advocating for the state.
How do you practice sustainability?
At home we take advantage of new technology. Our lights are now LED, we have a high-efficiency heat pump, and we take care of our water by installing a water sensor that turns off the sprinklers after rain. I will also ride my bike to campus instead of driving. These measures are simple but save water and energy.
What is your suggestion to the campus community on how to be sustainable?
Firstly, to care deeply about the environment. From this place of caring, you’ll find ways to be sustainable. Your pattern of behavior is fueled out of environmental concern. .