Lab Journal

Smartluck #4: Jim Cavallo

July 21, 2010 by Nelida

Our fourth Smartluck consisted of Jim Cavallo as our guest speaker. Jim studies energy efficiency, which involves projecting how well buildings perform. He also does energy audits, which are studies conducted to a building to see how energy-efficient it is. Apart from giving us a brief description of what he does, Jim also gave us some very interesting facts. In fact, he gave us so many facts, that I think it would be appropriate to list them for you now:

1. The U. S. is about 6% of the world’s population and uses 26% percent of world’s energy.
2.There are 3 levels of pollution: local (i.e. mercury), regional (i.e. SO2), and global (i.e. CO2).
3. A British thermal unit (Btu) is the amount of energy required to raise one pound of water by one degree Fahrenheit.
4. The U. S. uses 25 quadrillion Btus each year.
5. In the Midwest, residential homes use up to 52% of their energy through space heating (2005). Ways to decrease this is by tightening up a building and insulating it.
6. Phantom energy is energy used by appliances while they are supposedly turned off. They are usually 7 to 10% of the household’s energy use.
7.Black surfaces absorb more heat than lighter surfaces.
8. Residential and commercial buildings consume about 20 quadrillion Btus of energy.
9. As the width of a building expands, the volume will grow quicker than the surface area.
10. You can save energy by getting more efficient refrigerators, replacing incandescent light bulbs with fluorescent, and disconnecting appliances when not in use.

After his presentation, we all went to the back of the office, where Jim conducted his blower door test to see where air is coming in and out of a building. This is how it works: he first puts a frame the size of the building’s door. The frame is covered with a red sheet that has a hole for a fan. The fan then sucks the air out of the building creating a vacuum. Using his infrared camera he can see the cold or warmer spots of the building. He then takes pictures and analyzes them. Overall, Jim’s presentation was an extremely informative one.

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