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Students make energy-saving recommendations for Shively Hall

While maximizing the potential of energy is a never-ending quest, students at Ohio University have found ways to improve energy efficiency on OHIO’s main campus in Athens. The Building Energy Treasure Hunt is an experiential learning class that allows students to collaboratively conduct their own energy audit on a campus building and then suggest changes for improvement. The one credit class is divided into teams and the winning team’s suggestions are then implemented by OHIO’s Facilities Management staff. 

In the Fall 2022, the first Building Energy Treasure Hunt was launched and open to all students who had an interest in solving energy engineering problems. Students were taught how to complete energy use intensity (EUI) calculations paired with a building inspection in Shively Hall. Additionally, each team toured Shively Hall with facilities staff to both understand the intricacies of the building’s energy use and their client’s expectations.

Students check light bulbs in Shively Hall

Students launched the project by first pre-assessing Shively Hall's energy profile, investigating how the building’s unique uses influence energy-use, such as special heating and cooling for a lactation room. They also had to assess the building’s age, Ohio’s climate and the energy source used in the building. Lastly, they had to understand how energy was being used across other campus buildings to better understand what they should responsibly expect in terms of energy consumption in an OHIO building. 

One group, Nicholas Spangler, Muath Alhinai, Brian Johnson and Jordan Castelli, focused on the energy used in heating Shively Hall. During the inspection alongside OHIO's Facilities Management and Safety team, the students discovered a minor pipe leak, that although not harmful to students living in the building, was creating the increased potential for energy waste. The students worked with the Facilities Management and Safety team to develop a simple solution to the leak that is in the process of being fixed, in addition to the other recommendations the students made.

This opportunity gave the students who participated in the class a real-world experience in energy engineering. They were able to work in-person with Facilities Management staff who gave them a detailed understanding of the building’s energy use as they gathered data for an energy audit to identify needed improvements. 

This experiential learning opportunity allowed students to understand and practice a typical day in the life of an energy professional and gain valuable skills as they prepare to enter the workforce. 

Given the opportunity and need to continue improving energy efficiency across OHIO’s campus, this class will continue to be offered to students to give them real world experience in the energy industry. Students can register for ME 4930 for Spring 2023 to go on their own Building Energy Treasure Hunt. 

The Building Energy Treasure Hunt was made possible through an Experiential Learning grant awarded through the Center for Advising, Career, and Experiential Learning (ACEL). Additionally, this experience relied on the help of expert facilities staff members Kirby Bowling, Jeff Hamilton, Gary Carter and Karl Suchy. 

January 13, 2023
Chloe Musick