Robust Industry Partnerships

To effectively address today’s energy and related environmental issues, partnerships are essential. In addition to collaboration among the university’s many energy and related research laboratories, Ohio State facilitates a myriad of external relationships (formal and informal, collaborative and consultative, sponsor and client) with other academic institutions, government agencies, nonprofit organizations and Ohio-based businesses as well as national and multinational corporations. These partnerships advance our goal of positioning Ohio State as the land-grant institution leader in energy issues.

University, Community Partnership to Support Green Building Technologies

An Ohio State faculty member has received a university grant to help educate people about how green technologies can reduce home energy consumption and improve indoor environmental quality.

Lingying Zhao, associate professor of food, agriculture and biological engineering and faculty director of the university’s solar house, received a two-year, $45,000 Engagement Impact Grant from the Office of Outreach and Engagement for her proposal on green homes.

Zhao will establish an online “Green Home Technology Center” and educational elements for students and the community. Her hopes are for a transformational change in residential energy consumption and environmental impact by educating the community on green homes.

In 2014, residential homes in the U.S. consumed 22 percent of the total energy and contributed to 25 percent of total carbon dioxide emissions, according to the U.S. Department of Energy.

The DOE’s Building Technology Office aims to cut down on the amount of energy used by homes by encouraging builders to construct market-ready, net-zero houses and develop technologies to make existing and new houses more efficient.

The basis of Zhao’s research stems from her experiences with Ohio State’s involvement in the DOE’s Solar Decathlon competitions, where university student teams design and build solar powered homes. Ohio State student teams participated in 2009 and 2011. The 2009 house is to be installed at New Albany High School for educational purposes and the 2011 house, enCORE, remains on campus and is used for education and research for students and the community. The enCORE house will serve as a base for many of the research and outreach facets of Zhao’s grant. Since the houses were built, the use of green home technologies has evolved and become more accessible to the public.

As part of the project, Zhao and an advisory board will create workshops to educate the community on green homes and technologies to help improve energy efficiency. She also plans to develop experiential learning or service learning opportunities for Ohio State students interested in green buildings. This will establish opportunities for students to engage with the community and with homebuilder partners. The Ohio State team will also work with New Albany High School to create learning curricula using the 2009 solar house.

The “Green Home Technology Center,” an online portal created as part of Zhao’s project, will serve as a clearinghouse of green home technologies and include elements such as new emerging green homes, Ohio State research findings, educational materials and outreach educational programs. This portal will provide audiences with information from green home community workshops; online survey and information collection; real-time performance of the Ohio State solar house; government policy and incentives for the adoption of green home technology; and research and Ohio State University Extension publications.

Zhao’s multidisciplinary project includes several Ohio State departments as well as community and business partners including Efficiency Smart, Buckeye Power Inc., Habitat for Humanity of MidOhio, the U.S. Green Building Council’s Central Ohio Chapter, New Albany High School and Ohio Energy Office.

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