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NEWS
Net Zero Energy Design Toolkit Under Development
April 21, 2011

A toolkit to help better understand the impacts of building construction related to net zero energy targets is being developed by undergraduate students in their senior year through an American Society of Heating, Refrigerating and Air-Conditioning Engineers (ASHRAE) Undergraduate Senior Project Grant.

The grants, totaling some $65,000, are awarded by ASHRAE to colleges and universities worldwide to promote the study and teaching of HVAC&R, encouraging undergraduate students to pursue related careers. The grants are used to design and construct projects.

This year, 14 schools from around the world were awarded grants, including the University of Oregon for its proposal to develop a net zero energy design toolkit. As the top grant award winner, two students from the university are invited to present their project as part of the Student Program at the 2012 ASHRAE Winter Conference in Chicago.

As the building industry looks toward more energy efficient design, with the eventual goal of net zero energy use, additional tools are needed. The toolkit being developed by students will help facilitate understanding of the impact of design decisions on the rising cost of energy and enhance dialogue between engineers, architects, contractors and building owners.

The toolkit will include a building air tightness testing system as well as an infrared camera to detect moisture, missing or defective insulation, structural shortcomings, HVAC problem areas, sources of heating and cooling loss, plumbing blocks, roof leaves and electric issues.

The kit will be used for pre- and post-occupant audits followed by a workshop, where students will discuss their real experiences with building performance analyses dealing with topics such as occupant comfort, system effectiveness and energy use.

ASHRAE will begin accepting applications for the 2012-13 program in August 2011, with a December 2011 final deadline.


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