Friday, February 19, 2010

Energy and energy efficiency lab activities

As I mentioned earlier, we are teaching the new Energy and Energy Efficiency course for the first time, a key course in our Sustainability Design and Technology degree program. The course comes with a two-hour laboratory, for which we have the facilities of our primary computer-linked laboratory, the Physics lab, and the entire campus and State of Maine, wherever we have a research, service, or implementation project to go work on or go visit.

These are some recent lab activities.

Yesterday we took an in-depth building tour with Facilities Director Roger Duval, Sustainability Coordinator Jesse Pyles, and our new Rocky Mountain Institute Sustainability Fellow, Anne Stephenson.

We studied three important campus buildings: the Activities Building, the Library, and a residence hall. We looked at their heat systems and controls, the general state of their building envelope and insulation, and their windows and doors.

Two of these buildings, the Library and Activities, comprise about 39,000 square feet, and use about 15,000 gallons of heat oil per year, about 20-30% of our overall emissions (off the top of my head).

We have proposals in hand to insulate the Activities Building and fix the leaky building envelope and to put a pellet boiler system in the Library. How much of this we do depends on campus planning and grant proposals. Part of Anne's job is to sort out which of these and other projects to prioritize and perhaps bundle in one financial package.

Anne's infra-red camera also came on the trip. I hope to post some pictures from that soon.

There's also the photo of Mary climbing on the table during the previous lab to get a better turn on her screwdriver. We were assembling solar modules from solar cells. I had her get down off the table, for safety's sake, after I took this picture!


Jesse said...

Sadly, we didn't get the boiler grant for the library. We may yet see some of those funds in the next round.

Mick said...

That sucks. We'll have to put a new boiler in the library eventually, of course, but it wouldn't have happened right away without the stimulus. And now it won't happen unless there's another similar scheme.

That, by the way, is the proper Keynesian approach -- if you're going to use public money to fund private, public good projects, like switching the boiler in a public library that is also the library of a non-profit college, you have to employ due diligence to be sure that the project would not have happened anyway, without the stimulus.

I'm not sure how much of the stimulus is really passing this test, or if the test is indeed in place in many programs. But the fact that we were turned down indicates that Maine has some test in place.

So I find this a silver lining.

Of course, if you're a Tea-Partier or similar, you don't believe (or don't understand) this theory.

Jesse said...

The grant Request for Applications didn't stress this "additionality" but pretty heavily emphasized job creation. $11.4 million in federal Recovery funds was identified for this program and only $3.2 million was allocated for 6 projects -- only one of which was a "standard" project application for $25,000 or less (our application category).
You can see the award announcement here: