Engineers must draw a line on sustainability


Here’s a link to my article “Engineers must draw a line on sustainability” in this week’s Engineering News Record.

Communicating to change the world (reading list)


If I hadn’t read these 10 books about communication, you wouldn’t be reading this now. Whether or not that is a good thing is up to you. Regardless, I can assure you that each of these books is more entertaining and informative than anything I have written. Chip and Dan Heath’s Made to Stick: Why some ideas survive and others die is tops on this list. They get Read More →

100 meetings in two weeks to help you succeed in academia

Me pretending to give advice

I meet individually with every student in my classes at the beginning of the semester. In these short meetings, I try to learn what each student is hoping to do with their life and at least one other unique story about them (they worked at an orphanage over the summer, they started the University polo club, they are a bouncer at the most popular bar Read More →

Influential videos


Here are some of the videos that have had the biggest influence on me. While I don’t agree with everything in each of them, I do think watching them is time well-spent.   Randy Pausch on time management (80 minutes) If you only have time to watch one video, watch this one. It will free up time for you to watch the rest. It’s by Read More →

Free course in Sustainable Energy Innovation – Snowil’s energy audits

Here is your chance to create the future! In my free eight-week Sustainable Energy Innovation course, you will begin developing profitable social and technological innovations to tackle our pressing energy and climate obligations. Course content includes videos and short readings carefully selected and organized to be accessible to a wide audience regardless of nationality, educational background, professional interests, or academic focus. All of the work in Read More →

Sustainability in the built environment (reading list)

carbon zero

Academics talk about having areas of “expertise,” which sounds like bragging until you get used to it. I’m trying to stick with “specialty” instead because if there’s one thing I learn the more I learn, it’s that I’m far from an expert in anything. Anyway, the closest thing I have to expertise a specialty is sustainability in the built environment. Here is my top 10 list Read More →

We’re all teachers (reading list)


As Kid President says, “we’re all teachers.” So, here is my top 10 list of books that I think have made me a better teacher. I know they have made teaching even more fun for me. On the strength of its content, 147 Practical Tips for Teaching Sustainability takes the top spot on this list, ahead of books that are more well-known and entertaining. Reading anything Read More →

Dirty elegance


One of my favorite elementary school memories was when mysterious dirt clods appeared all over my playground. At recess that day, my friends and I used the natural ammunition to play a cross between capture-the-flag and team dodgeball. The next day our teacher announced we couldn’t touch (or throw) the dirt clods. That was obviously impossible, so we weren’t allowed on the grass part of Read More →

Way more fun than academic journal articles (reading list)


I just compiled my top 10 list of books that can help you digest and use academic research.  Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi’s Flow takes the top spot on this list, in fact this is my favorite book of any type. For researchers, reading anything on this list will help you explore beyond your own field. For everyone else, I promise you’ll be better off than if you spend Read More →

Don’t stifle ambitious energy saving goals

Just changing the anchor changed the goals these professionals set.

When a group of students and I learned about the anchoring bias, which refers to our tendency to gravitate towards a pre-defined standard regardless of its relevance, we thought it may influence how people set goals to reduce energy use.  So, we decided to see if the bias was present among professionals who design and operate buildings, which use lots of energy, about 40% of Read More →