The Illinois Tech chapter of the National Electrical Contractors Association (NECA) is a student organization that strives to benefit students in the electrical construction industry through local networking opportunities, training and apprenticeship opportunities, and the cultivation of a larger electrical contractor community among both its local and national members. This semester, the Illinois Tech chapter of NECA has taken the opportunity to participate in the ELECTRI International Foundation's 2018 Green Energy Challenge. In an interview with TechNews, Illinois Tech NECA Secretary Hannah Golden described the competition as well as what the local chapter has done thus far to participate in it.
In Golden’s words, “The competition this year challenges us to find a facility in our surrounding area that provides community service to others, perform an energy audit, and create a proposal on how the facility can achieve net zero energy consumption.” To that end, Illinois Tech’s NECA chapter has partnered with the nearby Institute of Cultural Affairs (ICA), located at 4750 N. Sheridan Road in Chicago. An organization with the mission to “build a just and equitable society in harmony with Planet Earth through empowering cultural dimensions of the social process,” ICA and NECA have been working together throughout the spring 2018 semester in several of the competition’s specific areas, including energy efficiency analysis (electrical systems based on existing lighting fixtures, lighting controls, heating, ventilation, and air conditioning), lighting retrofit, and solar energy systems.
After several site visits to ICA to gather information, NECA has proposed a number of other changes to the building, including the installation of daylight sensors for lighting, “meaning lights would only be on when they’re needed.” Other proposals concern the installed solar PV panels, including better optimization of their tilt angles and the adoption of other models for higher overall efficiency. Finally, the students have also proposed “that there be smaller ductwork for ventilation only in order to raise the height of the ceilings, there be shelves at windows used for shading as well as bouncing natural light, and radiant panels for conditioning people.”
One final noteworthy aspect of Illinois Tech NECA’s participation in the 2018 Green Energy Challenge is how the challenge calls for the participating students to volunteer with the partnered facility. Thus, Illinois Tech NECA students volunteered at ICA’s Peterson Garden Project at its Ninth Annual Seed Swap event on March 4.
As Illinois Tech organizations continue to foster greater partnership with our local communities, the professional development of our students and the overall development of our neighbors will continue to become more intertwined. The global nature of both the city of Chicago and our campus’s demographics lends itself to ample opportunities for partnerships such as that demonstrated by NECA.