Gaspar Pedro – Agricultural Engineering (Mechanical Systems)
John (Hudson) May – Agricultural Engineering (Natural Resources)
Gordon Stead – Environmental Engineering
School: University of Georgia
Challenge: Building Energy Audits for Residential or Commercial Buildings
Problem Definition: Develop technical solutions to expedite energy audits or develop a simplified, yet effective, energy audit methodology, by finding ways to reduce time and cost compared to current audit practices. In addition to proposing solutions, this challenge also asks teams to demonstrate the proposed energy audit solution on an existing building.
Project Title: Simplified and Front-loaded Residential Energy Audits
Solution: A diverse team of students (two undergraduates, one graduate, from the US and overseas), from the University of Georgia (UGA), worked together to produce a streamlined, low-cost energy audit process that is suitable for residential buildings. The audit process was optimized for smaller residences (more affordable housing) as, for those on lower incomes, energy bills consume a higher proportion of total income; even modest energy savings could therefore result in meaningful improvements in a householder’s financial situation. The project team partnered with a local affordable housing organization, Habitat for Humanity, to provide a no-cost energy audit for one of their clients. In the planned audit process, time and equipment costs were minimized through a variety of means, particularly through gathering the bulk of the required information before the visit (through online questionnaires, a virtual visit, and requesting energy bills), thereby reducing our required time visiting the client’s home. As well as saving time costs, this also reduced inconvenience for the resident. In the test case, the residential visit lasted only 24 minutes. Energy modeling was accomplished using the free eQuest software and energy savings recommendations were forwarded to Habitat for Humanity. In the concept-to-market plan, a strategy was formulated to propagate this model to other potential auditors that does not demand specialized background but should be accessible to anyone with basic internet access. A second-tier product allows for a more advanced audit with the use of generic, off-the-shelf technology (a tablet) if this is available.