Green Energy Team proposes sustainable improvements to Natural and Environmental Sciences Building

Christina Vessa

Solar panels, occupancy sensor lights and a micro grid are building additions that could keep rare ice samples frozen in case of an electrical outage if a proposal by the Green Energy Team at Colorado State University is passed.

This year’s 2015 Green Energy Challenge, sponsored by ELECTRI and the National Electrical Contractors Association, asks students to develop a back-up power system for a building in their community. This year’s Green Energy Team from the Construction Management Department is proposing to install sustainable improvements to the Natural and Environmental Sciences Building.


Team member Ellen McCurdy, a freshman construction management major, said the micro grid will provide backup power if the current generator breaks down.

“The whole building itself is (going to be) the micro grid,” McCurdy said. “The one on the inside runs on battery and fossil fuels. If that ever breaks down, this one on the outside would register that it broke down and kick on automatically, saving the temperatures of the freezers that hold the core samples.”

Team member Patrick Kemmesat, a junior construction management major, said the solar panels, installed on the south side of the building, would provide shade for the offices and power for the micro grid.

“We don’t want to waste our money and our natural resources at the same time — that is a lose-lose,” Kemmesat said. “That is why LEED is so important, and that is kind of why I decided to do this.”

CSU became the first institution in the world to receive a platinum STARS sustainability rating, and there are more than 15 LEED certified buildings on campusLEED is a national green building standard that promotes clean, renewable energy.

The proposed LED lighting and occupancy sensors would save energy and maintenance costs for the building as well, according to Team Leader James Dumanovsky, a sophomore construction management major.

“Because we use our buildings for a lot longer periods throughout the day than most would, the lights are on a lot longer, and also, students may not be as conscientious of turning off the lights when they leave rooms,” Dumanovsky said.

He said universities are an ideal place to implement green building technologies and awareness.

I see CSU getting pretty involved and probably initiating newer technologies and being more open to spending a little bit more at the beginning in order to have those energy savings,” Dumanovsky said.

The Green Energy Team will be submitting their proposal Monday, and, if selected, the top three teams in the nation will compete at the NECA Convention Oct. 3 – 6. Last year, CSU’s team won first place.


“People don’t really understand how much energy they are using, and how much recycling and using renewable energy helps for CSU and the community itself,” McCurdy said. “Instead of focusing of the building as a structure, you can focus on the things inside of it and making people more aware of that.”

Collegian Assistant News Editor Christina Vessa can be reached online at or on Twitter at @chrissyvessa.