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December 19,2014

Harsha Holalu Ramakrishna facilitates fall LEED Labratory

University Resources from MAE’s Energy Solutions Spring into Action in Support of LEED Certification for Nelson Hall

In late November of this year, the energy engineers, Harsha Holalu Ramakrishna and Daniel Paprocki of Energy Solutions, facilitated a session of the fall LEED Laboratory (ARC 590-012), an interdisciplinary course through NC State University’s College of Design.

The 1 ½- hour course included information on conducting energy audits including a walk through at Nelson Hall to determine baseline energy use, focused on lighting. Energy Solutions, a Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering Department group, serves as the U.S. Department of Energy’s Industrial Assessment Center, providing free energy audits to small- to medium-sized manufacturers. The group also serves other sectors with general and targeted energy surveys of high-energy users.

Nelson Hall, home of the Poole School of Management, is considering the aspects of acquiring the LEED Certification, with the help of students, university resources other experts in the field. Students are playing a key role in this documentation process. The LEED laboratory course is central to this certification effort.

Energy Solutions also provided information on conducting an ASHRAE (American Society of Heating, Refrigeration, and Air-Conditioning Engineers) Level II audit, a necessary component in obtaining the information necessary to make efficiency recommendations and implementations for LEED Certification.

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October 26,2014

Governor Pat McCrory visits Catawba Valley Furniture Academy

Bill McBrayer and Governor Pat McCrory

By ALEX FRICK HICKORY, N.C. – Gov. Pat McCrory likes Monday Night Football, and he likes to watch it in comfort. During a tour of the Catawba Valley Furniture Academy at Catawba Valley Community College on Monday morning, he said he looked forward to kicking back on furniture donated to the Governor’s Mansion by Lee Industries and taking in the Seahawks-Redskins game scheduled for the evening

Lee, along with Century, Lexington Home Brands, Sherrill and Vanguard, came together to work with CVCC to design programs that will train people for the skilled positions they need filled.

McCrory strutted through the simulated furniture factory on CVCC’s East Campus followed by a gaggle of furniture company and college representatives, reporters and staffers. He marveled at the cutting and sewing machines, upholstery equipment and finished pieces of furniture he saw.

“This is what it’s all about,” McCrory said. “It’s connecting people with jobs and industries that are looking for talent. So we’re making talent with education, and this is our objective throughout the state. What they’re doing in Hickory could be a role model for the rest of the state. And it’s also showing that we’re not giving up on the furniture industry, and there’s a future for the furniture industry in North Carolina to grow.”

The furniture made in North Carolina is different than what’s manufactured in China and Central America, he said, and consumers demand a level of quality that is bringing some of that manufacturing back to the United States.

He said he hoped the reach of the Furniture Academy would extend to middle and high school students through their guidance counselors.

“In the past 20 years, we’ve been saying, ‘There’s only one way to success. You’ve got to be a lawyer or dentist or something.’ With all due respect, that’s just not the way it is,” he said.

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January 26, 2014

NC State engineering students help North Carolina company save energy, improve processes

The student chapter of the Society of Manufacturing Engineers (SME) at North Carolina State University broke new ground when three of its members traveled to a Burlington, NC, hosiery manufacturing facility this fall.While helping Kayser-Roth Corporation, the team became the first student chapter on the East Coast of the United States and just the third in the country to provide a company with free assessment of its manufacturing processes and recommend improvements.

Wendy Johnson and Stephen Taylor, both seniors in industrial engineering, conducted the assessment under the supervision of Dr. Rohan Shirwaiker, assistant professor in the Edward P. Fitts Department of Industrial and Systems Engineering at NC State. Shirwaiker is the faculty advisor for SME’s student chapter.

“This is a great educational program since it entails practical manufacturing experience for undergraduate students in addition to the local industry involvement,” Shirwaiker said.

The project was a partnership with the Industrial Assessment Center (IAC) at NC State, one of 26 centers across the country sponsored by the US Department of Energy. The IAC provides small- to medium-sized companies with free assessments of their energy uses and recommended improvements. The center at NC State conducts about 25 of its energy assessments a year, for companies in North Carolina, South Carolina and Virginia.

“Basically, we’re there to help them save money, mostly through energy,” said Dr. Stephen Terry, an extension assistant professor in the Department of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering and one of the directors of the IAC at NC State. “The other benefit of the program is that these students get trained.”

Laval Choiniere, director of operations engineering for Kayser-Roth, said the company, which makes socks at its Burlington facility, is constantly trying to improve its processes and conserve energy.

He is often contacted by consultants who want to offer help improving Kayser-Roth’s facilities. For Choiniere, having a team from NC State Engineering come to the Burlington plant was the best option. In 2012, the IAC at NC State conducted an energy assessment at Kayser-Roth’s facility in Lumberton.

“I thought it was helpful to get another set of eyes looking at it,” Choiniere said. He said the team from NC State was conscientious and easy to work with.

Taking learning outside the classroom

The exercise provided an opportunity for students like Johnson and Taylor to apply information learned in the classroom, from ergonomics to Six Sigma processes, in a working environment. “We basically pulled information from every undergraduate class that we’ve taken,” she said. “The assessment also gave us a chance to work hand-in-hand with mechanical engineers who conduct IAC assessments.”

Creating the activity brought a $2,000 grant to the student SME chapter, which the group will use to bring speakers to campus and to pay transportation costs when the group tours local manufacturing facilities. The SME student chapter at NC State has plans to conduct more process assessments in conjunction with IAC as part of a three-year partnership. “It was a win for everyone involved,” Taylor said.

August 30, 2013

Linking Energy Efficiency to Economic Productivity

Observers of U.S. energy policy might think of energy efficiency as a useful investment strategy to smartly manage the growth of energy consumption. They might also see it as a cost-effective means to ease our transition into a post-carbon world. And yes, the evidence does support both of these notions. But there is also emerging evidence that demonstrates that energy and especially the more efficient use of that energy---plays a much more critical role within the economic process than is generally understood.

Building on the work of a number of noted economists and physicists, the new ACEEE report, Linking Energy Efficiency to Economic Productivity: Recommendations for Improving the Robustness of the U.S. Economy, explores the productive use of energy as it affects the robustness of the larger U.S. economy. It also explores the need for a more critical accounting of how work that is, the transformation of matter into available goods and services is enabled by the efficient conversion of high-quality energy called exergy. If exergy flows are neither properly measured nor adequately tracked, then business and policy leaders may be misreading the real dynamics of economic activity. That may lead to policy prescriptions that are suboptimal and dampen the economic well-being of the United States.

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July 20, 2013

N.C. State named top STEM university in US Journal and World Report

Chemist shows a molecular structure

This June, North Carolina State University was named amomg the Top STEM Universities in the nation in a special feature in US News and World Report. North Carolina State University was recognized for its high proportion (48%) of bachelor’s degrees earned in the fields of science, technology, engineering and math.

Notably, NCSU was ranked with some of the most prestigous STEM focused Universities in the nation, including: Massachusetts Institute of Technology and California Institute of Technology. Duke University was the only other North Carolina institution featured in the article with a 36% STEM degree ratio. You can read the special feature here.

April 2, 2013

Free Documentary Screening April 8, 2013

Switch logo

RALEIGH, NC--The North Carolina State University Energy Council and Arcos Films will hold a FREE screening of Switch, a new award-winning documentary that moves past the politics to deliver the straight answers on energy


Monday, 4/8 – 7:00pm
North Carolina State University
Witherspoon Student Cinema

Click here for more information.

September 26, 2012

Equipping North Carolina Industry with the Tools to Reduce Energy:
NC State University provides energy training to northeast region

Hertford, NC – As part of the Northeastern Workforce Development Board’s (NWDB) Sustainability Initiative, North Carolina State University began Commercial Energy Coordinator training at area hotels in Dare County.

Through a grant from the NWDB, NC State University’s Industrial Extension Service (IES) is partnering with Energy Solutions, a fellow program in the College of Engineering to facilitate the training, which is intended to reduce energy-related costs for participating businesses.

Energy Solutions is a part of the Department of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering that helps industry save energy and train the next generation of energy engineers exercising a ‘fuel-neutral’ position. Their team works in conjunction with IES to provide the technical component of the training,  which is a hands-on course designed to train small- and mid-sized business owners and operators how to identify, evaluate, and address their energy efficiency performance. Subsequent knowledge and implementation of recommendations lead to reductions in costs.

Rex Raiford, IES Regional Manager for the northeast is particularly excited about the opportunity to help the hospitality industry. “Pooling our resources within the university to help this industry, one that is so important to the region’s tourism economy is rewarding,” said Raiford.

In January of 2010, the NWDB received a Department of Labor State Energy Sector Partnership Grant to focus on training in renewables and energy efficiency. Both business employees and unemployed building professionals are trained for current and future positions in the energy industry. This funding is providing IES with the resources to provide the Commercial Energy Coordinator training to eligible hospitality businesses. Eleven facilities are currently scheduled for the training across the region.

Participants develop an Energy Action Plan, identifying solutions for reducing their energy consumption. Training also includes classroom and real-world assessment activities. Upon successful completion of the program, participants will receive a certificate demonstrating their accomplishment.

About IES

IES brings research and expertise from NC State University’s College of Engineering to the workplace, to help businesses and organizations thrive.  IES will work anywhere, with any industry, to solve problems and deliver results like lower costs, better products, and higher efficiencies.  Since 1996, IES has been the state agency for the federal Manufacturing Extension Partnership (MEP).  

About Energy Solutions

Energy Solutions, works with industrial, commercial, governmental, and institutional facilities to save energy and to train the next generation of energy engineers exercising a "fuel-neutral" position. Energy Solutions touches hundreds of clients, recommending efficiency/conservation initiatives of which typically 50 percent are implemented, resulting in an average of $7 million in energy savings annually. Energy Solutions also serves as one of 24 Industrial Assessment Centers in the country.

About the NWDB

NWDB is the northeast region’s WIA (Workforce Investment Act of 1998) federal grant training entity. The organization is tasked with identifying eligible candidates who are in need of additional training to find and keep meaningful employment.  They also work with business clients to find qualified employees.

August 30, 2012

White House Announces Executive Order on Industrial Energy Efficiency, including Combined Heat and Power

Today, President Obama signed an Executive Order to accelerate investments in industrial energy efficiency, including combined heat and power (CHP). Accelerating investment in industrial energy efficiency in a way that benefits manufacturers, utilities, and consumers can improve American manufacturing competitiveness and create jobs while improving our nation's energy system and reducing harmful emissions.

The Executive Order:

Investments in industrial energy efficiency and CHP offer significant benefits to manufacturers, utilities and communities across the country, including:

Read more.

Read about the IAC’s mention in a recent NC Sustainability Center article.