Professor Marcela Oliva, Los Angeles Trade Technical College
For 10 years, Marcela Oliva was the Knowledge Architect for the Los Angeles Community College District Sustainable Building Program. She envisioned and implemented the largest Virtualization BIM/GIS System in the nation following National Intelligence Standards. She is a full time Professor in Architecture and Environmental Design at Los Angeles Trade Technical College and founder of UCLA World Peace One Extension Courses: Transforming Community, Virtualizing Neighborhoods and Environmental Design for Social Justice. Professor Oliva participated with NASA’s Knowledge Management Program, as a principal investigator for the Cyber-Physical Systems National Science Foundation Grant, and is a recipient of the California Governor’s Award in Geospatial Technologies.
LAW: What are some of the challenges that the LACCD faces in achieving energy efficiency goals?
MO: LACCD has made tremendous accomplishments building high end design green buildings across its nine colleges. But, as we know energy efficiency is not only about building, it is about operating maintaining and accessing. In addition buildings cannot be looked individually they need to be part of the campus network and comply with its baseline. LACCD challenge is to develop an energy efficiency system connected to its operation and maintenance platform using the appropriate tools with BIM/GIS (Building Information Modeling and Geographical Information Systems).
LAW: What are the keys to convincing your colleagues to support energy efficiency initiatives?
MO: In today’s time, it is no longer an option, the country; the nation, the state and the city have strict guidelines to comply with sustainable guidelines and energy efficiency. In a learning environment it is only a responsible approach to teach as we do.
LAW: The Trade-Tech campus has experienced a remarkable transformation. What do you attribute that to?
MO: Trade-Tech campus transformation is the outcome of the Bond, collaboration with City’s initiatives, workforce development grants and innovative thinking for learning. In addition, I have integrated OER (open educational resources) to accelerate learning, customized knowledge and create the new “knowledge worker”. HERE is a three minute video created for the Department of Labor and Education.
LAW: What role do you play as an on-campus/district architect and teacher in the transformation?
MO: As an unprecedented collaboration among all colleges, I was able to implement the e7 Architecture Intern Student Program. For 10 years, we developed and implemented the largest virtualization system to be used for visualization and life cycle of a building and campus. In addition, I was part of the team that implemented the first BIM (Building Information Model) Standards which included sustainable strategies for energy, water, recycle and air quality.
For the LACCD Sustainable Building Program, I designed a system following the Federal Enterprise Architecture and the Life Cycle of a Building or campus. This system and framework helped organized the complex relationship among all variables and look at the interconnections among all the parts. I called this system the “Biomodel Mechanisim” HERE is a link to a short movie which was presented at multiple forums and symposiums.
LAW: How does the on-campus work provide you with effective teaching opportunities?
MO: Access to drawings and models at multiple stages of the process provide us with an invaluable resource for the classroom. Architects, Engineers, Urban Planners and Government agencies are always available to come lecture, visit or provide resources for the campus. Currently the Architecture and Environmental Design Studios have state of the art technology with dual screens and all BIM/CAD/GIS software in each of the machine, exhibit areas, interactive large screens, 3d printers and laser cutting machines.
LAW: Are your students able to join in and get the hands-on experience? What types of projects are they assigned?
MO: Through the e7 Architecture studio all 9 colleges got hands on experience using high tech tools to document and virtualize the 9 campuses, as well as all sustainable strategies and equipment’s for all buildings and campus; water, recycle materials, energy and air. In collaboration with other trades, our architecture sustainable landscape class was able to do as built, design and construction for two landscape areas in our campus. We used sustainable landscape strategies for water irrigation and plant selection. HERE is a video of an Intern’s Day.
LAW: How does the Trade Tech model influence sustainability in the surrounding south Los Angeles community?
MO: Trade Tech is part of multiple sustainable initiatives and has partner with nonprofit organization to create green jobs. Recently, Trade Tech was award the Federal Promise Zone. The Architecture and Environmental Design Program has an advisory team made out of architects, engineers, urban planners, artist and activist in the community. It is called ENCOUNTER. ENCOUNTER is a new model that helps connect the classroom to the outside world and the outside world to the classroom. We transform the built environment through projects that are designed, built, maintained and exhibited by local talent. We use simulation and virtualization to look at complex ecosystems. We believe in healthy communities that thrive, sustain & resist. Go to www.encounterla.com for more information.
LAW: What are the some important goals our campuses need to face for our communities?
MO: It is time for our nation to have a smart system to manage the built environment, provide agile educational solutions for all, use our natural resources efficiently, use business enterprise solutions, and consider all these variables at the same time. Our neighborhoods can be empowered to document, design, build, and maintain their own places. We need to rethink our educational environments, as pointed out by Dian Senechal in “The Most Daring Education Reform of All,” by Nora S. Newcombe in “Improving Spatial Thinking,” and by Diane Ravitch in “In Need of a Renaissance—A Real Reform Will Renew, Not Abandon Our Neighborhood,” all of which appeared in the AFT (American Federation of Teachers) American Educator Magazine in summer 2010.
The “open door” is closed to many students in our communities. It is difficult to fund a class, a project, or an initiative when so many complex variables need to be taken into consideration, such as the population background, socio-economic forces, and new technologies. In addition to this complexity and budget crisis, current needs demand that educational facilities utilize the most efficient systems for energy, water, and land. It is important to understand that ensuring that buildings, campuses, and cities save energy, use recycled materials, operate renewable products, and harvest rainwater is only one step toward a sustainable living environment.
STAR Community Index™ (a pioneering strategic planning and performance management corporation) has pointed out that sustainable solutions address interconnected economic, environmental, and social concerns. Challenges of great magnitude encumber change in our communities and impair the ability to address issues in unified ways. Current solutions do not focus on multiple variables, do not transform, do not self-organize, and do not sustain. Duplication of information and fragmentation of services create cumbersome responses and solutions. For instance, zip codes with the largest number of faith organizations and nonprofit organizations do not necessarily transform the life of our communities.
Moving from centralized, decentralized to network strategies is essential for any organization that wants to grow “green and smart.” To grow “green” means to use all natural and human resources in the most efficient way, and to grow “smart” is to use all the new tools to connect through networks. The United Nations Public Administration Network and RedLich International (a leading company in network solutions and mind-mapping services) estimate that 85 percent of success for any organization is based on the efficiency of its networks.
Some of the outcomes from a network are knowledge management, agile information transfer, embedded skill and training services, and feedback loops for improvements. It is only through the use of networks that an organization can separate relevant from irrelevant information and develop real-time information for improvement. Knowledge consists of concepts available to process information and guide action. Knowledge now refers to the “smart use of know-how.” In a knowledge economy, more and more tasks involve thinking process, seeing cycles, getting feedback, and transforming.