F&S Vital to Building Energy Efficiency Study

Nidia Bucarelli

Properly and efficiently heating buildings is an instant way to reduce cost, and electrical and thermal energy use. Measuring those savings versus the impact it makes on building occupant satisfaction is an important balance, one that a civil and environmental engineering research team hopes to make easier for building managers now and in the future.

Thanks to F&S, the team, including Dr. Nora El-Gohary, associate professor in civil and environmental engineering, and Ph.D. candidate Nidia Bucarelli, was able to make important and informed decisions about conducting the experiments needed.

An Arduino used to read room lighting levels, temperature, humidity, and air quality.

The research team is leading the effort to install metering devices that collect data that will be used as a baseline for the project. These metering devices, or Arduino, have a printed circuit board (PCB) where sensors read lighting levels, temperature, humidity, and air quality. Each Arduino is essential to the project. So when Bucarelli found it difficult to keep each device on, she reached out.

“The first thing F&S helped me with was selecting the building. We wanted one on campus and I had certain requirements in regards to size, occupancy levels, and layout, so we spent about two months to find the right building,” said Bucarelli. Karl Helmink, associate director for Utilities & Energy Services, energy conservation & retrocommissioning, and Paul Foote, energy efficiency & conservation specialist, consulted with Bucarelli in selecting the Office of Admissions and Records Building as best for the needs of the research.

“Do you know Jerry Buchanan?
Well, he’s an extraordinary human being.”

Nidia Bucarelli

Bucarelli’s experience with electrician sub-foreperson Jerry Buchanan is one she appreciates. She asked for help, and he delivered results: “When I was going to start my device deployment, I had real big issues because I had a problem keeping each device on. But I didn’t know how to adjust them since I wasn’t an electrician, so I was like, ‘Hey Jerry, how do I keep my devices on?’ He provided me with a solution. He put together some equipment at his shop to build a power supply. He also gave me some rolls of wires to make my electrical connections and made himself available.”

Early in the process Buchanan consulted with the team. He reviewed PCB design before manufacturing, making sure it worked properly once received. Like many F&S employees, Buchanan went the extra mile to support the research team.

“I’m so happy I met him. He was really supportive for me. And now, everything is
working fine. I’m so thankful and grateful for him. Without him, I wouldn’t be able to deploy my sensors on time.”