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Energy-management services to be offered

By Liz Crumbley

Spectrum Volume 19 Issue 12 - November 14, 1996

Substantial industrial and residential energy cost-savings can be realized through efficient management. With this goal in mind, the Virginia Tech College of Engineering, the Mechanical Engineering (ME) Department, and the Virginia Center for Innovative Technology (CIT) have established the Energy Management Institute (EMI) to provide energy surveys, technical services, research, and training for state industries and residential-service providers.

Alan Kornhauser, associate professor of ME at Virginia Tech and interim director of EMI, said the institute will serve existing industries and will offer energy-management services to state economic-development agencies for incoming industries.

The EMI will act as an umbrella organization, working in cooperation with two existing Virginia Tech entities, the Virginia Electric Energy Council (VEEC) and the Industrial Energy Center (IEC).

The VEEC, which resides in the Biological Systems Engineering (BSE) Department, was established 50 years ago by state electric utilities and cooperatives to promote safe and efficient residential energy use through research and education. Lori Marsh, associate professor of BSE and VEEC director, said that one service the council will offer through the EMI is a state-wide training program in energy efficiency. Currently, VEEC is teaching a course around the state on compliance with the Model Energy Code, which is the Virginia building code that designates energy-efficiency requirements for all new residential construction.

The IEC was established in 1993 with funding from Virginia Power to provide energy surveys and technical services for the utility and its industrial customers. During the past three years, the IEC has enabled its clients to accrue more than $3 million in energy savings. ME Professor William Thomas is director of the IEC. Thomas and retired IEC Director William Mashburn founded the EMI.

While the IEC will continue to work with Virginia Power and its customers exclusively, other state businesses and industries can work with EMI to obtain surveys of energy use and recommendations for the most advanced and industry-specific technology for increased energy efficiency.

Kornhauser said EMI will not compete with energy consultants and engineers in the private sector. "We'll work cooperatively with them, putting them in contact with industries in need of assistance."

EMI also offers short courses in industrial energy management. Kornhauser said a series of four short courses will be offered during the fall and winter and more are planned in the spring.

Marsh described EMI as "a one-stop center for energy-efficiency management in Virginia," referring to the fact that the institute's function is to help residential as well as industrial clients and to offer both technical and educational services.

EMI will be directed by Michael von Spakovsky, who will join the Virginia Tech ME faculty in January 1997. Von Spakovsky has more than 10 years of experience in the U.S. electric-utility industry. He comes to EMI from the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Lausanne, where he has been conducting research in thermodynamics and energy systems since 1989. His expertise includes both the economic and environmental effects of energy-system design and management.