Rhode Island Public Energy Partnership

Fostering Energy Management in RI’s Public Sector

Over the course of the past year, I have been working as a URI Energy Fellow on the Rhode Island Public Energy Partnership (RIPEP) Team, an initiative funded by the Rhode Island Department of Energy (DOE). As energy efficiency became a focal point for RI’s state and municipal heads, the RIPEP Team played a crucial role in determining if energy efficiency retrofits are a success, and if buildings are performing efficiently.

We accomplished this by establishing a baseline of energy consumption for over 80% of RI’s school facilities, using an online energy management tool called Portfolio Manager (PM). This baseline report allows decision makers to look at how much energy their district consumed, by building, from 2008 to 2014. The data was displayed as monthly values and grouped by energy type (electricity, natural gas, etc.). This accessible and comprehensive baseline was the first of its kind in RI, and is an invaluable accomplishment for energy efficiency in the state of Rhode Island. Now that energy efficiency has been measured in the state, it is possible for public decision makers to manage their own consumption.

Many school and municipal departments had very little knowledge of their own energy consumption. The process of evaluating energy bills is often overlooked, and the bills are simply paid for by the state without careful consideration. The RIPEP Team helped schools and municipalities make important energy decisions by:

  • Establishing a baseline for their buildings energy consumption,
  • Identifying poorly operating facilities, and
  • Providing measurable changes in energy consumption after retrofits.

After the baseline was established, the RIPEP Team also gave school districts and municipalities the means to continue their own energy management through the use of the same, user friendly and free online tool, Portfolio Manager.

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Having an experiential learning experience such as the one I received as an Energy Fellow at the URI Outreach Center was instrumental to developing a well-rounded repertoire of professional and social skills. Throughout my time on the RIPEP Team, I grew and developed in many ways I would not have within a classroom. When I first came in to the program I was disorganized, a poor communicator and unfamiliar with working in the professional office environment. Working on a supportive team encouraged me to take on new responsibilities, which led to improvement of my professional skills. Some of my many tasks included taking notes at seminars regarding current energy issues, leading small group meetings, and conducting community service. I also had opportunities to work with professionals in the field to accomplish common goals. Taking on diverse and challenging responsibilities developed my ability to synthesize ideas, bolstered my public speaking, and overall improved my professional demeanor.

Building upon my weaknesses has given me a sense of confidence I would not have found within a classroom. It has given me a clear head and reassurance to follow my passion to improve the environment. I hope to find a career in either the environmental or energy field where I can have a direct effect on environmental issues such as renewable energy or diminishing natural resources. I finally feel like I am ready to begin my career. I owe a great deal of my preparedness and confidence to my experiential learning as a URI Energy Fellow.

 

by: Connor Fiske ’15

Environmental & Natural Resource Economics Major

December 18th, 2015

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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

The Energy Fellows Experience

Helping to make Rhode Island more energy efficient

This semester I worked at the URI Outreach Center as an Energy Fellow with the Rhode Island Public Energy Partnership (RIPEP) to improve the overall energy efficiency in the state. RIPEP is a three-year project aimed at compiling an inventory of all state and municipal buildings’ energy and water usages. Through this process we hope to identify which buildings across the state are best suited for energy efficient retro fits.

Throughout the semester, I was in charge of creating Excel spreadsheets for various state and municipal buildings outlining their energy consumption over the past few years. After this data was compiled, it was uploaded into a program called Portfolio Manager, which analyzed and organized all of the energy consumption data by town. Once the data was organized, it was presented to each town so they could decide which buildings they wanted to spend money on in order to increase energy efficiency.

Although this job’s main focus was energy efficiency, this internship was not all about analyzing data. As an Energy Fellow I was also required to attend outside energy events, as well as running information tables at various energy expos. The most interesting energy event I was able to attend was the Quadrennial Energy Review where I got to listen to the Secretary of Energy Ernest Moniz, Senator Sheldon Whitehouse, Senator Jack Reed, and many other energy experts talk about some of the major issues in the alternative energy field.

Another great experience I had as an energy fellow was running an information table at The Home Show in Providence. At this event, I represented the URI Outreach Center and informed people about the various programs offered at the University, as well as answered energy efficiency questions from anyone who visited the table. I feel that these types of events really made the internship more interesting and allowed me to experience new things in the energy field. Although I have only experienced a semester of this year long internship, I have already acquired a bevy of new and extremely useful skills. I am looking forward to the rest of the trainings and experiences that summer and the fall semester will bring.

 

by Alex Blanchette ’15

Environmental and Natural Resource Economics + Applied Economics Double Major

May 9, 2014