By Holly Sauer
Iowa State University took home first place at the 2020 Green Energy Challenge (GEC).
The GEC, sponsored by ELECTRI International and NECA, is an opportunity for NECA Student Chapters to design an energy upgrade for a facility that provides community services to others in their communities.
Each team is required to prepare a proposal showing how their chosen facility can decrease its energy consumption. Teams are advised to emphasize detailed technical solutions for their proposed systems, and how these changes will respond to the unique needs of the building and climate. Participants were also required to volunteer at their facilities and be involved with their local NECA Chapters.
Winner Iowa State University, Ames, Iowa, partnered with ChildServe, which is one of the largest child therapy centers in Ames. The team proposed to replace 300 of the existing 354 lighting features with LED equivalents, implement occupancy sensors and dimming switches and install 150.4 kW DC photovoltaic system. The 2020 GEC best presenter was Parker Lloyd from Iowa State University.
The University of Toronto won second place and opted to work with Orde Street Public School, which serves children from kindergarten through grade 8. The team recommended insulated blackout curtains to reduce solar gains when undesirable, new vinyl framed windows, a new electric boiler and heater and new AC units for the building to increase its energy efficiency.
Third-place Ball State University, Muncie, Ind., worked with the Ronald McDonald House of Indianapolis, which provides services for families with children receiving care at the nearby Riley Hospital for Children. The participants analyzed the building’s energy efficiency, lighting and the solar energy system.
Illinois Institute of Technology (IIT), Chicago, won fourth place and decided to look at Near South Health Center’s building. The organization provides a variety of health services to Cook County residents. The team proposed replacing old HVAC systems, replacing florescent bulbs to LEDs and installing a rooftop photovoltaic system and occupancy sensors.
There was also a GEC video competition where teams talked about their experiences for three minutes. Penn State University, Iowa State University and IIT were finalists, and IIT won, with Penn State coming in second place and Iowa State in third. The teams were encouraged to highlight how they creatively solved the problems of being unable to meet in person with NECA chapters, members and outreach services due to the COVID-19 pandemic.