URI engineering professors win grants to
make Kingston a Green Power, Campus
KINGSTON, R.I. -- April 6, 1999 -- Two University of Rhode Island engineering
professors have been awarded grants totaling more than $50,000 to establish
the Kingston Campus as a "Green Power site and a model for energy efficiency.
The Rhode Island Public Utilities Commission is contributing $50,000
to the project, while Narragansett Electric Co. is providing sensors and
Osama M. Ibrahim, associate professor of mechanical engineering, and
Stanley M. Barnett, professor of chemical engineering and director of the
URI Center for Pollution Prevention, have teamed with three engineering
students, Paul Radion, a sophomore from North Smithfield, Jove Farley, a
graduate student from North Kingstown and Josh Clements, a sophomore from
Dexter, Mich., to develop a five-year plan to achieve energy efficiency
"Right now, we are gathering data on such things as lighting patterns
and heat loss through windows, said Barnett, a South Kingstown resident.
But the team will also be looking at such obvious things as lights left
on in unoccupied buildings. "Our students will use sensors to keep
track of the on-off cycle of lights, Barnett said.
Barnett said the team is working closely with Paul DePace, director capital
projects, and staff in Facilities and Operations to coordinate the work.
Barnett said the team is finding that the University has already made uprgrades
in several areas to strive toward energy efficiency.
Ibrahim, of South Kingstown, said the University spends $7.6 million
annually on energy, and half of that is for electricity. "We,re confident
we can save 25 percent or $1.9 million annually by making energy-efficient
changes on campus, Ibrahim said.
"We believe URI should lead this movement, because it could be a
great big laboratory. We could then share our findings with industry, agencies
and government operations.
The federal government is promoting energy efficiency and renewable energy
in an effort to help the United States reduce its emissions and comply with
the international climate change treaty.
"Green Power is a name given to electricity that is generated using
resources that have minimum impact on health and the environment. Ocean,
wind and solar power generally have the least impact. State-of-the-art natural
gas and hydroelectric resources can have very little impact. Coal, oil and
nuclear-fired power plants have major impacts on the environment, as do
related fuel mining processes.
"The primary thrust is to look for alternative energy sources that
will dramatically reduce carbon dioxide emissions, Barnett said.
To move closer to the "Green Power ideal, Barnett said the University
will have to look at all forms of energy efficiency. "It makes no sense
to put solar panels on a building's roof if inefficient lighting systems
remain, Barnett said.
One potential "Green Power solution for URI would be solar-powered
lighting for Upper College and Flagg roads. "People are already using
solar-powered lighting for their driveways and garages, Ibrahim said. "And
Narragansett Electric is a providing a discount on the cost.
Barnett said state and federal governments are trying to build consumer
use of such devices, so that the cost will drop. In addition, the fuel cells
for solar lighting have been improved greatly.
The team wants to address energy efficiency in all buildings at URI,
but in the early stages, it wants to concentrate on Ballentine Hall, home
of URI's College of Business Administration, and historic Green Hall, where
major rehabilitation projects are slated. The students have just completed
a lighting analysis in Wales Hall, and are now proceeding to Ballentine
Hall. Barnett said it makes sense to address energy efficiency, and incorporate
new and better systems in any building that is scheduled for major rehabilitation
and expansion work.
"The information that we gather could be incorporated in these building
projects, Barnett said.
Barnett also re-emphasized the project,s value to industry. "This
can be a center where we learn, through our data collection and research,
about energy conservation and pollution control, and then distribute that
knowledge to businesses.
For Further Information: Dave Lavallee 874-2116