Outreach Center

Educating Rhode Islanders about Sustainable Energy

Since January 2014 I have been an Energy Fellow at the University of Rhode Island Outreach Center. This year I worked on the Sustainable Energy Outreach and Education Team, developing ways to teach the community outside of URI about energy topics such as efficiency, conservation, and renewables. We worked to serve as a teacher to the public and provide resources about energy to those who are not able to attend the university. We did this through a series of workshops available to Rhode Island residents where they could learn the “who, what, why, and how” of sustainable energy. These included a Home Energy School, a Renewable Energy School, and two residential efficiency workshops in South Kingstown and Warwick as part of the EPA Climate Showcase Communities grant.

We designed these educational programs by working backwards and first identifying outreach objectives. First, we wanted to provide people with research-based, factual knowledge about energy basics and what is happening on the federal, state, and individual levels. Most importantly, we hoped to facilitate a behavior change in Rhode Islanders to adopt sustainable energy habits, advocate for progressive energy policy, and be confident, informed energy decision makers. If successful, in the long run we will see a reduction in CO2 emissions and a diverse array of energy sources.

This fellowship has allowed me to grow professionally as well as personally. I have gained vast knowledge about the energy system and Rhode Island’s leadership in a sustainable energy future. I have also gained invaluable professional skills and a newfound confidence that has translated into my everyday life. Working in outreach and education has also inspired me to add a minor field of study to my major in Environmental Economics. In the spring I will begin my Public Relations minor in order to achieve the most effective means of communicating energy to the public.

I feel very strongly that the energy industry is where I would like to further my career. I enjoyed this internship so much that I reapplied to be a 2015 fellow, and was accepted as the Team Leader of Energy Education. This promotion will provide me with leadership skills, and more importantly allow my voice to be better heard in educating Rhode Islanders about sustainable energy behaviors.

By: Angela Tuoni

Environmental & Natural Resource Economics

Public Relations Minor

December 22nd, 2014

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RIPEP-er!

My internship as an Energy Fellow began in January 2014 and will continue through December 2014. What’s really interesting about my internship is that the other interns and I get to work on real projects that affect our state and get a real life experience in the workplace.

I am working at the URI Outreach Center on the Rhode Island Public Energy Partnership (RIPEP). RIPEP is a federal grant provided to the state to increase energy efficiency in the public sector by 20% by 2015. Of four major sectors – state, schools, municipalities, and water suppliers – I work with the state sector.

I use Microsoft Excel and Portfolio Manager to organize and analyze state energy data. First, I meet with state representatives to collect information about energy use in state buildings, including old bills, meter numbers, and account numbers. Then, I organize this data using Excel. Finally, I transfer all the data into Portfolio Manager, an online tool that tracks buildings’ energy consumptions and calculates an overall energy efficiency rating for each building.

Comparing energy efficiency ratings from various buildings show us which buildings are the least energy efficient. National Grid performs a “scoping study” on each of these low efficiency buildings. In a scoping study, National Grid goes to the building and finds problems in the building that are making it not energy efficient. After the scoping study is finished, the problems are addressed. Then the building owners can track the building’s energy efficiency on Portfolio Manager to make sure the building is attaining a high energy efficiency rating. Portfolio Manager is a tool that is not only useful for calculating energy efficiency but also for making sure that the building stays efficient after repairs and replacements have been made.

As this project goes into the summer, I will meet with state agencies like the Department of Administration, the Department of Transportation, University of Rhode Island, and many more. So far I have worked with my team here at the Outreach Center, the Office of Energy Resources in Providence, and National Grid. My internship provides plenty of opportunities to network with many people throughout the state and I’m sure there will be many more people for me to meet throughout the rest of my internship at the Outreach Center. I love working with energy efficiency and with this project. Before this internship I hardly knew anything about energy efficiency but this internship has taught me so much. I’m not even halfway through my internship year and I already love it.

 

by Marissa Pereira ’16

Environmental and Natural Resource Economics Major + Business Minor

May 9th, 2014

Some Very Energetic Fellows

For my internship experience I was fortunate enough to work under Kristina DiSanto as a member of the Energy Fellows program. I was assigned to a project called the Rhode Island Public Energy Partnership (RIPEP), which is a statewide initiative funded by the Department of Energy with the goal of reducing energy consumption by 20% in 100 government buildings in Rhode Island. Additionally the project entailed benchmarking the energy consumption of every government building in the state, and this was the aspect of the project that myself and several other fellows were given to complete. Benchmarking requires that we collect all utility data from the previous three years for each building, normalize the data, and compare each of the buildings to determine which ones are the least efficient. After determining the least efficient buildings, we target them for scoping studies and eventual energy efficiency retrofits to be performed by one our partners in the program, National Grid.

The benchmarking process requires that I use Microsoft Excel extensively, drastically improving my capabilities in using the program as well as analyzing the data itself. The data work however was only one aspect of the Energy Fellows program. Throughout the summer we attended weekly energy events that expanded my understanding of a multitude of aspects of the energy sector. We met with industry professionals and entrepreneurs in the renewable energy field and toured their facilities.

We also attended workshops on resume building, job search techniques, and participated in team building exercises. Over the course of my fellowship I developed meaningful relationships with all of my coworkers and I am proud to say that I can call each and every one of them my friend. The work environment was professional yet relaxed and very much based around student learning and development as well as the completion of project goals. I very much enjoyed my time as an Energy Fellow and would highly recommend the program to any students with an interest in the field of renewable energy technologies or energy efficiency programs. My professional development and the people I met by participating in the program all made for a wonderful experience. So what are you waiting for? Send in your application today!

 

by Eric Munzert ’14

May 14th, 2014