Highwoods Properties: Co-Op Education Program for Workforce Development
As part of their workforce development efforts, Highwoods Properties partnered with North Carolina State University (NC State) to provide a co-op program that provides professional experience to students. The program helps create a pipeline of graduates trained to control and reduce energy consumption in the built environment.
The co-op education program at NC State gives students the opportunity to work for a variety of career fields prior to graduation while earning class credit. The students gain practical skills and build up their resumes, making them more attractive to companies in their field. Highwoods Properties saw this as an opportunity to fill gaps in their workforce and a way to connect with the community.
In 2017, Highwoods started with one engineering student interested in energy efficiency in control systems. Since then, 10 engineering students have worked with Highwoods for 1-to-3 semester placements. Each student’s assignment is based on their area of study; their majors included mechanical engineering, environmental engineering, and building science. Highwoods involved students in several tasks and projects, including:
- Remote commissioning
- Weekly electric profile reviews
- Energy reporting
- ENERGY STAR® certifications and site surveys
- Energy savings calculations
- Electricity and water rate reviews
- Energy data maintenance
Before beginning the program, Highwoods had 44 properties that were ENERGY STAR® certified but quickly increased that number to 75 properties certified. Their help allowed the company to achieve quick analyses and upgrades. The co-op program has identified projects and provided ENERGY STAR® support, which helped save over $800,000 for projects since 2017.More Less