November – February
The project will need one to two months for research and data collecting. The best months to collect significant data are either winter or summer months. An additional month is needed to visualize the outcomes for educational purposes around the campus. Depending on the outcomes of the research, the solutions can be implemented within short time.
Have you ever felt freezing cold in an UIC-classroom on a hot summer day? I did so numerous times. The REC, for example, is so cold during the hottest summer days that you actually need to warm up before doing any sports. This is caused by excessive use of the air conditioning systems (AC) at UIC. But the AC affects us and our environment much more than we might think on first sight. According to National Geographic, all AC’s in the US combined produce an average of 100 million tons of CO2 every year, which is 1.84% of the CO2 emission of the entire US. How much energy an AC consumes is, of course, connected to the temperature it is set to. For every degree you turn it up, the AC will use 1% to 3% more energy, according to various popular sources. Let’s say on a warm summer day at around 85 degrees, a classroom’s AC is set to 70 degrees. You will definitely feel cold in this room. If we now turn it down to 75 degrees, the AC will use up to 15% less energy. We would still experience this room as cool, yet we do not have to wear any sweaters or jackets. So turning the AC down would save a lot of energy and make us feel more comfortable at the same time.
More information on energy use of AC’s can be found here: http://physics.ucsd.edu/do-the-math/2012/09/rocking-the-ac/
The project suggests to do research and collecting data on the general usage of AC’s at UIC, the average temperature in classrooms at UIC in relation to the outside temperature (temperature difference) and the subjective experience of students in the classrooms. After collecting this data, the outcomes can be presented to the UIC stakeholders involved (such as the facility management, the various boards and offices) and to the students for educational purposes. Eventually, the findings will lead to a better use of the AC’s at UIC.
This project is definitely a low-budget project. A rather small amount of money will be used to collect the described data. Most money would be spent on displays of the outcomes (which could be prints on wooden boards or something similar) around campus. Approximately $500 to $600 will be needed.