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2006-2007 HIGHLIGHTS








Cover of the 2007 Annual Report
Annual Report
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Cover of the 2007 College Directory
College Directory
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Theresa Lehman and Joy Altwies

Engineering Professional Development

Growing “green” buildings

From parking spaces to prairie flowers, many decisions once thought outside the realm of engineering now must be considered in order to produce a “green” building. Assistant Faculty Associate Joy Altwies (pictured, right) offers a number of courses to give engineers and construction professionals real-world strategies and tools to meet green-building goals.

Altwies brings together experts, including Boldt Co. Technical Services Manager of Sustainable Services Theresa Lehman (pictured, left), to share lessons learned from sustainable building projects such as the design and construction of the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources (DNR) Northeast Regional Headquarters in Green Bay. It was the first Wisconsin state office building built under the LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) rating system, which offers a national standard for developing high-performance, sustainable, “green” buildings.

The construction team focused on five main areas to realize the sustainable structure: making the best use of the building site; incorporating natural light; minimizing, reusing or recycling construction waste; selecting appropriate materials to construct the building and outfit the interior; and using smart energy sources for efficient heating and cooling. The 34,560-square-foot building uses 50 percent less energy than a typical code-compliant structure.

Boldt completed a construction waste plan tailored to the site, the building, and local recycling opportunities. At the end of construction, the company diverted 85 percent of the waste (237 tons) from area landfills at a disposal cost savings of $3,555 (or, $15 per ton). By minimizing paved surfaces, designers reduced stormwater runoff. All runoff is absorbed or filtered by prairie plants in a rain garden. Excess water drains slowly toward a pond, solids settle, and eventually the naturally cleaned overflow water enters a brook north of the building.

A new course for wind power

As of June 30, 2007, the American Wind Energy Association reported a total of 12,634 megawatts of installed wind-energy capacity in the United States. With more than $65 billion in projected investment, that number could reach 49,000 megawatts by 2015. Utilities and developers are building new plants to meet increased demand, while wind turbine manufacturers are gearing up production.

Worldwide, 15,200 megawatts of new wind turbines powered up last year, generating enough clean electricity annually to offset the carbon dioxide emissions of 23 average-sized U.S. coal-fired power plants, according to the Worldwatch Institute. The 43 million tons of carbon dioxide displaced is equivalent to the emissions of 7,200 megawatts of coal-fired power plants, or nearly 8 million passenger cars.

Significant advances in wind turbine technology and wind power plant capabilities continue to emerge. Sites that energy producers overlooked for energy-capture just 10 years ago now are under development. Meanwhile, the standards for connecting wind power plants to the electric utility grid are evolving.

As the demand and incentives for clean energy continue to grow, so does the need for engineers who can make it happen.

Assistant Faculty Associate Mitch Bradt is offering a new course, Fundamentals of Wind Power Plant Design, to train wind-farm developers, electric utility design and planning engineers, project managers, technicians and others in wind-energy principles and power engineering basics. The course takes students through wind-site assessment, turbine basics and generation machinery, as well as electricity collector systems and interconnections with the electricity grid.

Engineering sustainability:
A new kind of understanding

With infrastructure and engineered products and processes becoming increasingly more complex, engineers must know how to integrate environmental concerns into the mainstream of their work. Climate-change issues, limited resources, bioaccumulation of materials, integration of social and economic issues, and systems thinking have begun to create a new dimension for innovation. Engineers are seeing the need to go beyond the traditional bounds of engineering practice to products and processes that are sustainable long-term. Such transitions will not occur merely by adding skills; a new kind of understanding of context and global systems is now imperative. Government bodies, companies and investors are looking to the university to help them meet sustainability challenges.

Professor Patrick Eagan has been at the sustainability forefront for more than 15 years. A pioneer of design for the environment, ecodesign tools, and the lifecycle approach to product development, Eagan has sparked the interest of other EPD program directors who have started integrating these topics into existing and new courses. The EPD Engineering Executives Forum 2006: Engineering Sustainability in the Global Enterprise showed that sustainability makes good business sense. Engineering Executives Forum 2008 will further consider sustainability issues.

Eagan has designed a new course, Developing Climate Change Strategies for Businesses and Public Institutions, which explores elements of evolving climate- change regulatory policy, associated challenges and opportunities, and effects of regulatory approaches on business strategy development.

The course teaches that a new understanding is vital to contemporary engineering practice: Business investment in climate change and sustainability strategies will have a profound impact on our climate and overall quality of life—not only during this century, but far beyond.

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