Ohio State Energy Partners grants fuel sustainable initiatives
2021-22 awardees to reduce lab energy usage, pollution
Ohio State Energy Partners (OSEP), The Ohio State University’s comprehensive energy management partnership, has announced 2021-22 grants that will support students, faculty and staff in research projects that promote sustainable energy and environmental initiatives.
OSEP contributes $810,000 each year to the university or affiliated philanthropic causes as part of its commitment to academic engagement.
Grants include $50,000 to Jordan Clark, assistant professor in the College of Engineering. The grant will fund Clark’s research related to reducing energy used by laboratory exhaust fans around Ohio State’s Columbus campus.
Running exhaust fans is often a necessary part of research, since the fans divert fumes from potentially noxious substances, Clark said.
“This is kind of an energy hog that not too many people think about,” he said. “Especially in the wet labs, you’ll have a bunch of the fume hoods that chemists, chemical engineers work in. They need to be held at a negative pressure to make sure that whatever they’re working on doesn’t escape into the general building. In order to do that, you have to run fans constantly.”
Clark said the OSEP grant will assist him and his team in verifying data they’ve collected on reducing energy usage when running laboratory exhaust fans.
“What that means for a typical situation,” he said, “if you can turn things down by half, which is often the case, if you can get a better prediction of where that plume of air is going to go, you’ll end up using about one-eighth of the energy.”
Another $50,000 OSEP grant has been awarded to Ryan Winston, assistant professor in the College of Food, Agricultural and Environmental Sciences. The grant will fund Winston’s proposal, “Using Campus as a Living Laboratory: Curbing Sediment in Stormwater to Improve Campus Sustainability.”
Winston said the grant will advance research that he and Halina Steiner, assistant professor in the Knowlton School of Architecture, have been working on since fall 2018.
“The long and the short of the idea is to essentially develop a new curb and gutter design along the side of standard streets that you would see in any urban area across the country, with the idea here of helping to control pollutants that are transported by stormwater runoff when it rains,” Winston said. “We are rethinking how that piece of infrastructure that’s been around for several centuries, at least, is constructed.”
Winston said the grant will enable his team to further the “Using Campus as a Living Laboratory” concept and develop curbs and gutters around campus to control pollution. Curbs and gutters that the team designed in the Knowlton School’s laboratory in 2019 and 2020 contain indentations that filter out pollutants.
“These indentations helped to slow the velocity of the stormwater,” Winston said. “The indentations in the curbs and gutters are also meant to collect things like sediment, cigarette butts, things of that nature. And then campus facilities, which comes through and street-sweeps frequently anyway, can hopefully remove all of that material using their street sweepers and essentially keep it out of the Olentangy River.”
Other OSEP grant award winners include:
$50,000 to Steve Volkmann, Planning, Architecture and Real Estate and Facilities Operations and Development; “Graves Hall Green Space.”
$50,000 to Ed McGowan, Administration and Planning and Facilities Operations and Development; “Quietly Mowing Campus with Zero Emission Mowers.”
$48,162 to Matilde D’Arpino, College of Engineering; “Planning Tool for Assessing Ohio State Options for a Sustainable and Responsible Energy Usage.”
$45,000 to Allison MacKay, College of Engineering; “Sustainable Cities, Equitable Societies – Case Studies to Develop Student Competencies in Sustainable and Just Infrastructure Design.”
$44,000 to Jennifer Heckscher, Fisher College of Business; “Evaluating a One-of-a-Kind Experiential Energy Innovation Hub: Human-Centered Innovation Spring for the Energy Advancement and Innovation Center (EAIC Spring).”
$40,000 to Gisell Jeter-Bennett, College of Engineering; “Engineering House Learning Community’s Service-Learning Program with South Side Family Farms.”
$35,000 to Ramteen Sioshansi, College of Engineering; “Convergent Graduate Training and EmPOWERment for a Sustainable Energy Future.”
$33,500 to Shawn Midlam-Mohler, College of Engineering; “EcoCar Competition.”
$28,000 to Qian Chen, College of Food, Agricultural and Environmental Sciences; “Post-Occupancy Evaluation of Building Energy and Water Use Intensities.”
$15,000 to Tom Reeves, Office of Student Life; “Student Video Production Project.”
$15,000 to Courtney Price, STEM Impact Collaborative; “WestFest Community Science Day.”
$13,000 to Parker Sutton, Knowlton School of Architecture; “Prairie Baroque.”
$11,410 to Liam Nigro, College of Food, Agricultural and Environmental Sciences; “The Green Renaissance Project: Sustainable Pathways to Community Wellness and Resilience Through Art.”
$10,307 to Andrew Leber, College of Arts and Sciences and Brain Sciences; “Climate and Cognitive Science Mini-Conference.”
$7,000 to Michelle Franco, College of Engineering; “The Diggers Studio: Cultivating an Ethic of Social and Ecological Sustainability in Landscape Labor.”
In addition, OSEP supported the following projects this year:
Ohio State Arts Initiative, $200,000.
WOSU Sustainability Programming, $25,000.
EmPOWERment Program Capstone Project, $20,000.
Hack OH/IO, $15,000.
In 2017, the university and OSEP entered into the comprehensive energy management partnership, which launched an unprecedented energy efficiency program and established Ohio State as an international leader in sustainability. OSEP is a joint venture between ENGIE North America and Axium Infrastructure. The university’s Energy Academic Collaboration Council provides support for the grant program.
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