'These services usually help companies save $70,000 a year'

'These services usually help companies save $70,000 a year'
Two Oregon State University students do a field inspection on a dust collection fan as part of the work of the Energy Efficiency Center at OSU. (Photo courtesy of Oregon State University)

CORVALLIS, Ore. - The Energy Efficiency Center at Oregon State University, a program that has saved $88 million for Oregon industry in the past 24 years, will soon double the number of its industrial assessments and integrate more students and faculty into the program with a new five-year, $1.5 million grant from the U.S. Department of Energy.

This program helps train students in the latest energy-efficient technologies while providing a valuable service to Oregon companies, and the new support will allow it to do about 24 industrial assessments a year. It is also receiving an additional $35,000 from the Oregon Built Environment and Sustainable Technologies Center.

“We’re now planning to serve a wider range of companies, not just manufacturers,” said Joe Junker, director of the program, which is based in the Department of Mechanical, Industrial and Manufacturing Engineering at OSU. “This will open some exciting new opportunities.

“These services usually help companies save $70,000 or more a year, and the cost of any needed changes is usually paid off within a year,” Junker said. “It’s also a valuable and practical experience for students, helping them gain a real understanding of field situations for industry and building their presentation and leadership skills.”

About four more OSU faculty from the OSU College of Engineering will become involved in the program through the new funding, online assessment tools improved, more mentoring opportunities created for students, and additional workshops and training sessions conducted.

The program also helps faculty stay more closely in touch with the latest problems and challenges facing Oregon business and industry, officials say. The broad range of this program in the past 25 years has assisted industrial, agricultural, commercial, institutional and residential energy users.

In a typical industrial assessment, a team of faculty and students will tour a facility and identify possible new efficiencies and energy savings, such as improved lighting, reduced leaks, or more efficient use of fuel. Comprehensive reports help companies make the needed investments that pay for themselves quickly and then save money on a continual basis.

In the first year of operation under the new funding support, officials estimate they will save Oregon industries about $4.5 million in energy, waste, and other costs, including missed opportunities for increased profitability.