An Energy Audit

In the spring of 2009, as a part of a directed study overseen by Instructor Nicholas Griewahn, HVACR students William Banks, Christopher Ranta, Glenda Ross and Dennis Sabo conducted an energy audit for the hospitality management program in an effort to reduce water usage and save money and energy. 

When hospitality management faculty voiced concerns regarding water usage and maintenance required to operate their walk-in refrigeration systems, HVACR students answered the call. 

According to student researchers Banks, Ranta, Ross and Sabo, “The mechanical systems that provide HM’s cooling are open-loop water-cooled systems.” In such systems, “all of the water consumed to remove heat from the conditioned space and equipment is drained to waste and not recovered in any form.”

In their ten-page proposal—complete with graphs, charts, methods, estimates and timelines—HVACR students reported on the extensive research they conducted over the course of the spring semester, providing hospitality management with the most current and efficient solutions. 

Each of the three options within the proposal show significant reductions in electrical service costs, water utility costs and maintenance costs. 

“The plan that they’ve proposed virtually cuts out all water usage,” said Griewahn.

HVACR students have also recommended the use of student labor as the most economical and educational solution for replacing the existing equipment. In upcoming semesters, students would combine their efforts with campus electricians in order to install the new machinery, and in the end, none of the old equipment would go to waste. 

The students’ report states that the old systems “will be re-installed in the HVACR laboratory to be used as experimental equipment for research.” 

If HVACR students are able to proceed with the work as proposed, this will be another of Northern’s many Academic Service Learning Projects in which students are able to benefit from experience while helping the campus and community as a whole.