Project Examples

Green building and solar designs for United Teen Equality Center (UTEC)

Course: 22.527 Solar Systems Engineering
Semester: Spring 2006
Instructor: John Duffy
Partner: United Teen Equality Center (UTEC), Lowell, MA

UML students worked with the local United Teen Equality Center (UTEC) to develop green building and solar designs for their recently acquired new center location. UTEC recently purchased the former St. Paul’s United Methodist Church on 34 Hurd Street to serve as their new permanent center. UTEC was and continues to actively seek volunteers with experience in designing and renovating a building to assess structural, electrical and general construction. UTEC continues its campaign to transform the former St. Paul’s United Methodist Church to provide a safe haven for local youth development and grass roots organizing.

The overall goal of this project was to provide students with an opportunity to help communities, local and remote. This represented a S-L project in which academic goals were met along with real community needs. Students investigated possibilities of alternative energy sources for UTEC’s recently purchased building and proposed additions. Students analyzed existing structures and proposed structure’s compositions and assessed overall heat loss coefficients. Given the positioning of the building and associated construction compositions, students developed detailed recommendations that included: super-insulation, energy efficient lighting, installation of shading during summer months, use of a Photovoltaic (PV) panel system to be installed on a south facing roof of the existing building, double glazed insulated window replacements, installation of ceiling fans to cool the building, and installation or air to air heat exchangers to be installed in both buildings to provide ample air circulation.

Vision of and mission of the Solar MiniProject for UTEC was described: As teens come to the UTEC community and become more self reliant, the UTEC building they gather in will also reflect self sufficiency in its usage of energy. The mission was described as a project developed "by teens, for teens" safe haven to promote science and technology for youth development. Students worked to suggest measures that improve the passive solar performance of the proposed UTEC design while improving the environment within the building. Students concluded that reducing the cost of energy is possible with the integration of passive solar systems.

Learning objectives met by the S-L project:

  • Developing skills in meeting technical objectives
  • Evaluating the potential sociological impact of solar technology on the community
  • Estimate monthly average irradiation and extrapolate estimates to the community location
  • Measurements of solar irradiation
  • Development of designs based on criteria gathered
  • Specify charge controllers and sketch wiring diagrams of the systems
  • Perform an hourly simulation of the systems with estimated hourly solar irradiation and ambient temperature for one year
  • Track loss of load
  • Suggest innovative energy systems
  • Final report that included methodology, results, conclusions and recommendations.

Community objectives met by the S-L project:

  • Potential plans and suggestions for community consideration regarding integration of solar designs during transformation of recently acquired building.