Student Energy Audits of Buildings Can be Done!

Contributing USMA Research Unit(s)

Center for Innovation and Engineering, Civil and Mechanical Engineering

Publication Date

Summer 6-2019

Publication Title

Proceedings of the American Society for Engineering Education

Document Type

Conference Proceeding


Energy conservation and sustainability are at the forefront of engineering today. It is imperative that engineering educators lead in this effort by showing the next generation of engineers that they can have a real impact by saving our energy and resources; this is especially effective when students are led on a journey of discovery, resulting in genuine learning (Adler, 1982). Luckily, it is easy to demonstrate energy conservation in real environments for hands on learning, even right on campus!

In the course Green Facilities Management, student groups performed energy audits of two separate buildings on campus, one constructed in 1948 and the other in 2014[KLCUU1] [SVACUU2] . Students first learned about energy sources and then analyzed an actual energy bill; the students then dug into the creation of green buildings, management of renewable energy sources, and life cycle costing. This was supplemented by a key hands-on portion, with building inspection, which included wall and roof material, insulation levels, window and door sizes, leaks, lighting and appliance loads. Occupant interviews were conducted to determine hours of operations and uses, and heating and cooling loads were calculated using real-world sources, like heat given off by people, solar radiation, conduction, and ancillary heat gain. Students then analyzed Energy Management Opportunities (EMOs), Green Energy Opportunities (GEOs) and life cycle costs and stated their prioritized recommendations, including an evaluation of installed and possible future green measures. Finally, during an oral presentation, the buildings, EMOs and GEOs were compared.

Results were assessed through both student feedback and project quality. Students appreciated the realistic project and being able to look at energy efficiency and the economics of sustainability. Projects were assessed by the instructor and 78% of the class had a B+ or higher on the project, exceeding expectations. The oral presentation had similarly positive results.

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