Students work on energy-saving project

Student project helps save electricity in commercial buildings

energy-savings projectIn the photo, Wenatchee Valley College students Steve Brumback, Scott Burchett and Sara Harbury work on one of two HVAC (heating, ventilation and air conditioning) trainer/simulators funded by state money through a subcontract from Battelle. To the right is faculty member Greg Jourdan. The Associated Students of WVC Refrigeration Club received the project funds to demonstrate potential energy savings of new and existing HVAC equipment.

The first unit built by students will be a commercial packaged rooftop heat pump with slight modifications to be used for training and testing. The second unit, built from the ground level, will be fully automatic with electronic controls.

Battelle, with money from Washington state, funded the working models and an update of the college's HVAC curriculum. The funding is part of a larger project to make the state's commercial buildings more energy efficient.

"With the commercial sector using 36 percent of the state's electricity, making business buildings efficient is a top priority," said Srinivas Katipamula, manager of the Batelle project. "But we can't keep those buildings efficient without schools like Wenatchee Valley College teaching students how to maintain modern HVAC systems." 

The students are taught by Greg Jourdan, who applied for the funding.  

Jourdan is currently modifying the college refrigeration curriculum to focus more on modern HVAC and energy efficient and green friendly products.  He expects to qualify for several other federal grants during the next couple of years because of the need for trained technicians who understand energy-efficient HVAC equipment.

The first working model will be completed at the end of March, and the second unit will be completed at the end of May. In the fall of 2009, Jourdan will demonstrate the models to other Washington state community and technical college HVAC faculty members for integration into their programs.

Battle operates the Department of Energy's Pacific Northwest National Laboratory in Richland.