Students on Short List of Participants in Green-Building Challenge

Published 09.17.2013

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Students from Pennsylvania College of Technology represent one of only five institutions internationally to compete in the Denver Superefficient Housing Challenge, which could result in construction of an energy-efficient demonstration home that they design and document during the current academic year.

The challenge, developed by the Rocky Mountain Institute in partnership with the Denver Housing Authority, parallels the U.S. Department of Energy’s biennial Challenge Home Student Design Competition. Teams are challenged to design a single-family home that meets (or exceeds) minimum energy-efficiency standards of DOE Challenge Home and building codes, while remaining affordable and neighborhood-appropriate.

“This is a great opportunity for our students to participate in interdisciplinary teams to provide in-depth study and documentation for a house to be built in Denver,” said Dorothy J. Gerring, associate professor of architectural technology. “We are really excited about the amount of community support we’ve had so far and how much interest there is in this project, which RMI and DOE are using to lead efforts to transform the housing marketplace.”

The house that is built will be tested and monitored for comparison to expected performance, added Gerring, who said all students will end up with a comprehensive project to include in their portfolios.

She and Robert A. Wozniak, associate professor of architectural technology, are lead faculty for the undertaking. They are supported by a wide range of advisers and mentors, including colleagues from the college’s schools of Construction & Design Technologies; Industrial, Computing & Engineering Technologies; and Sciences, Humanities & Visual Communications.

Among faculty resources are Geoffrey M. Campbell: assistant professor, architectural technology; Dennis R. Dorward: associate professor, building construction management; Jon W. Hart: instructor, building automation technologies/HVAC electrical; Keith N. Stefanowicz: instructor, electrical technology/building automation technologies/renewable energy technologies; Richard C. Taylor: associate professor, HVAC technology/plumbing, heating and design; and Joseph Loehr, associate professor of mass media communication/English composition.

Because of the phenomenal response from across a variety of Penn College curricula, faculty have divided students into Team Blue (57 members) and Team Gray (50 members). Accounting for breakout groups within those teams, Gerring said, there could be multiple solutions that will compete to become the eventual entry in the DOE’s Challenge.

Participants come from students in the college’s Architectural Technology; Heating, Ventilation and Air Conditioning; Electrical; and Construction Management departments. Detailed spreadsheets have been developed to delegate team members’ responsibilities leading up to the submission of their project documents in mid-December and potential presentation of their design in the spring.

To help them prepare, the students are required by faculty to complete a 12-hour online training module that covers a variety of topics – sustainability, marketing, materials, etc. – and will result in an Advanced Green Builder’s certificate from The Energy & Environmental Building Alliance.

They already have gotten expert advice tailored for them, including presentations by Jim Phelps, an energy-efficiency consultant with Performance Systems Development; and Carlene Keyte and Kristi Eberhart, mortgage specialists from Woodlands Bank.

The students were also schooled in building codes by representatives of the Pennsylvania Housing Research Center and will receive a beneficial overview in weatherization in a visit to the National Sustainable Structures Center, part of Workforce Development & Continuing Education at Penn College.

The other four institutions are Canada’s Ryerson University; the University of Colorado Denver; University of Nevada, Las Vegas; and the University of Utah.

For more about the college, email the Admissions Office or call toll-free 800-367-9222.