ATLANTA - Because energy use in college dormitories can run rampant due to an overload of appliances, the American Society of Heating, Refrigerating and Air-Conditioning Engineers (ASHRAE) is helping students gain a better understanding of how being plugged in impacts building energy use through funding of a teaching project for students at the University of Oregon.

The students will be challenged to develop a better understanding of personal and broad-scale energy consumption and how appliance selection and behavior modification can impact energy use through a hands-on experience, called Plugged In! The project was one of 13 grants funded by ASHRAE through its senior undergraduate project grant program.

The grants, totaling some $65,000, are awarded by ASHRAE to colleges and universities worldwide to promote the study and teaching of HVACR, encouraging undergraduate students to pursue related careers. The grants are used to design and construct projects. For more information, visit

As part of Plugged In!, students will “shop” for electrical appliances, determine the plug loads of each appliance, and calculate their short-term and long-term energy implications. They also will develop a real-time monitoring and feedback loop of a dormitory, as part of their goal of modifying occupant behavior. The students will develop a Web interface using energy use animations to reflect the amount of actual energy use of the dorm.

“Students living in dorms across campus will see first-hand how their behavior impacts building energy use and how energy use impacts the environment,” said professor Alison Kwok. “Estimates show that plug loads can range from 10 to 25 percent of total building energy use. We want to show our students how energy use can influence decisions about building design and how their use of appliances can impact power use for the entire campus.”

Other ASHRAE grant recipients are:

• University of Colorado at Boulder, Developing a Low-Cost Modular Building Integrated Photovoltaic-Thermal Collector for Electricity, Hot Water and Pre-heated Ventilation Air

• Purdue University (team 1), Heat Recovery Demonstrators

• University of Central Florida, Design Optimization of a Solar Thermal System with Integrated Storage

• Lawrence Technological University, Monitor and Simulate Two Existing, High Performance Buildings to Achieve and Maintain Sustainable Operation

• Boise State University, Solar Collector Panel Test Stand Senior Design Team

• The University of Kansas, Working Model of a Tall Building’s HVACR Systems

• Florida International University, GSHP-Solar

• University of Alabama at Birmingham, Variable Speed Pumping System

• Cairo University, Solar Hydrogen Fuel Cell Water Heater Educational Stand – Design and Fabrication

• University of Washington – Seattle, Assessing the Natural Ventilation in Classrooms and Laboratories-Implementing Class Projects

• San Francisco State University (SFSU), Air Conditioning Laboratory Unit for Undergraduate Engineering Education

• University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, Design and Construction of a Solar PV Demonstration System for Laboratory Use and Public Education

Publication date:03/30/2009