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Preparing Energy Stars of Engineering and Design
Preparing Energy Stars of Engineering and Design


A new collaborative, interdisciplinary program at PSU is preparing a cohort of engineering and architecture students to answer the challenges of reducing energy consumption in the building sector. With the support of the National Science Foundation, the Interdisciplinary, Research-based Engineering and Design (IRED) Green Building Scholars project will help students acquire the skills and experience they’ll need to efficiently integrate building systems and minimize energy consumption in commercial and residential buildings. The project is led by Cory Griffin and Sergio Palleroni of the School of Architecture and Huafen Hu, Peter Dusicka and David Sailor of the Maseeh College of Engineering & Computer Science.

The building sector accounts for forty-one percent of energy consumed in the U.S., far outpacing transportation and industrial energy needsi. Over a third of that energy is produced by coal burning power plants, which when combined emitted nearly two billion tons of the greenhouse gas CO2  in 2011 according to the U.S. Energy Information Administrationii. As the data makes clear, the energy needs of the building sector are a major contributor to the introduction of the harmful gasses driving global climate change.

Cutting the ties between the building sector, energy consumption and the emission of greenhouse gasses will require rethinking how buildings are designed, built, retrofitted and remodeled. At the helm of that task will be architects, engineers, and building scientists who will need to understand the complexities of the problem and work together if building systems are to be integrated and energy use minimized. 

The goal of the IRED Green Building Scholars Project is to prepare participating students to meet the scientific and technical challenges to radically reduce the energy use and environmental impact of the building sector. The project aims to increase the number of engineering and architecture professionals capable of reducing the environmental footprint of the building sector, bring more women and underrepresented minorities into engineering and architecture fields, act as a pipeline into related graduate programs; provide opportunities for interdisciplinary research in the “green” building sector, improve services for students, and catalyze an interdisciplinary certificate or degree in building science to continue the program into the future.

Together, architecture and engineering students study methods to rapidly integrate green building strategies to achieve multiple objectives with a single solution, explore materials and systems in the Green Building Research Lab, and work with professionals in the field, all to gain the experience and skills they’ll need to tackle the crisis of energy consumption in the building sector and reduce our dependence on the fossil fuel most responsible for emitting dangerous CO2 into the atmosphere.

Authored by Shaun McGillis
Posted October 22, 2014