URI engineering professors win grants to make Kingston a ‘Green Power’ Campu

s 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 technical data. 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 goals. “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: Osama M. Ibrahim 874-2535 Stanley M. Barnett 874-2443 Dave Lavallee 874-2116