Three Western students won first place in the Air and Waste Management Association’s 11th Annual International Environmental Challenge (ECi) Competition in Hartford, Connecticut, on June 28, 2018.
Representing Huxley College of the Environment as the fictitious consulting firm Kulshan Environmental, project manager Jeffery Pratt (’18), energy systems engineer Liam Moser (’19) and energy economist Jade Shallcrass (’19) developed their winning solution during the spring term under the advisement of Environmental Science professors Charles Barnhart, Imran Sheikh and Ruth Sofield.
The ECi competition charges teams of students with proposing effective solutions to a simulated environmental problem based on real-world needs, site conditions and events. Professionals in AWMA write a realistic environmental problem motivated by challenges they face in their careers. This year’s challenge, prepared by the Connecticut Department of Energy and Environmental Protection, focused on advancing inexpensive, reliable and clean energy for university campuses and their surrounding communities.
Students form consulting groups and submit a written proposal for how to optimally solve the problem. Student teams present a poster and the top five teams go on to give an oral presentation of their solution. They are judged based on the technical merits of their solution along with their consideration of the regulatory, economic, and social issues.
Huxley’s team competed against teams of undergraduates as well as master’s and Ph.D. students from schools that included Michigan State University, Wilkes University, Cal Poly and the University of British Columbia.
The teams were assigned with developing 3 MW of clean power for Connecticut’s growing university system and surrounding communities. Jeffery, Liam and Jade’s winning solution flipped the power supply and demand equation around by not adding 3 MW of renewable power capacity – as suggested by all other teams in the competition – but by implementing energy efficiency measures in existing buildings. Their plan ultimately avoids 13.6 MW of consumption, nearly seven times the competition’s requirement. Impressing the judges further, their efficiency scheme creates cost-savings over time that they proposed to redirect by enriching communities with green spaces, community gardens, employment centers and energy advances in electrification and abiotic biodigesters.
The students drew heavily from their environmental science classes at Huxley and especially from classes designed by faculty in Western’s burgeoning Institute for Energy Studies, a multi-college collaboration addressing the science, technology, policy, business and economic aspects of energy systems. The first-place prize of $2,500 was split among the three students.
Competition Details: https://www.awma.org/eci