James Madison University

NEW COLLEGES FORMED A plan to reorganize the College of Integrated Science and Technology into two colleges took effect July 1, 2012. The new colleges are the College of Health and Behavioral Studies and the College of Integrated Science and Engineering.


Valley 25x'25 Fall Research Review Shows Accomplishments

By: Cait Patterson
Posted: November 1, 2011

PHOTO: JMU Students present resultsOn October 10, 2011, Valley 25x’25 held its Fall Research Review. Valley 25x’25, led by James Madison University, hopes to achieve 25 percent renewable energy in the Shenandoah Valley by the year 2025.

“"25x25 is our nation's energy goal, which states that America should strive to get 25% of the energy we consume from renewable resources by the year 2025.  This can be viewed as a first step towards a sustainable future, where abundant, affordable, clean, renewable energy is available to everyone.  Most Americans don't even know we have National renewable energy goal (established by President Bush in 2005), nor do they realize how difficult it will be to actually achieve it.  There is no easy solution, but if we can get to 25% renewable energy here in the Shenandoah Valley, we can do it all across the country,” explained Dr. Chris Bachmann, Associate Professor of Integrated Science and Technology.

Because Virginia has extensive geographic and resource diversity, the Valley is a great location to host the project. “We have coastal regions, rural and urban communities, mountains, and a strong agricultural tradition. We are one of the most diverse states in the country, centrally located on the East Coast and a short two hour drive from policymakers in Washington, DC,” said Benjamin Delp, Associate Director of Research Development.

Students took advantage of this resource diversity when they started their faculty-mentored projects, funded by Valley 25x’25.One of these projects, led by Jackson Adolph and Mike DePaola, investigated the possibility of using algae to produce fuel. The two senior ISAT majors used poultry litter to grow algae fat to make biofuel. The duo experimented with different methods and settled on using dialysis tubing to grow the algae in a controlled manner.

PHOTO: JMU Students present resultsOther projects included a wide range of ideas on how to improve energy efficiency. Projects included the use of biochar in a sustainable greenhouse heating system, while another student created a map of geothermal temperatures in different Valley locations. Two other projects explored the feasibility of solar energy in households and farms. Not all of the projects focused on agricultural applications, as students also started development of an on-campus GPS bike-sharing program and investigated the effective range of electric vehicles based on energy-usage modeling. Others worked on ways to produce biodiesel in more cost effective ways.

One of the most anticipated projects was the Green Impact Campaign.  Started by Daniel Hill and David Hussey, the Green Impact Campaign simplified the process of doing basic energy audits for businesses. The project created a mobile website, referred to as GEMS, allowing student volunteers to conduct an energy audit by simply walking through an office building and recording their observations on the mobile website. Using a catalog of energy conservation measures ECMS, GEMS calculates energy savings and compiles a report for the business.

Any business can sign up for a free energy audit by visiting www.greenimpact.com. Here, the business will sign a pledge that states they will publicly make an effort to reduce their carbon footprint, and in return, the business will receive a free energy audit.

This program offers some of the advantages of a more comprehensive energy audit, for only a fraction of the time and effort. Thorough energy audits for businesses take, on average, 73 hours to complete. The GEMS system enables a useful energy audit to be completed in about an hour. Besides the enormous amount of time saved, the program gives volunteers hands on green job experience and participating businesses receive free energy efficiency advice.

With all of this hard work, it is no surprise that Hill and Hussey have been selected to receive the 2011 Force for Change award for their work on the Green Impact Campaign at the end of this month. Net Impact, one of the program’s sponsors, will present the Force for Change award.

The Fall Research Review gave students the chance to share their findings, while also explaining how they hope to further their research; other students got the opportunity to learn about energy and generate new ideas. As stated by Ken Newbold, Director of Research Development, “The Valley 25x’25 Fall Research Review provides an environment for students to come together and meet people with a similar interest in solving the energy challenge, while also generating ideas and partnerships. It gives students the opportunity to see the entire research process, while providing students the chance to network in a professional environment.”

In the future, Valley 25x’25 hopes to expand further into the community. “I have no doubt that JMU could reach 25 percent renewable energy by the year 2025, but we have to get the community involved to make a larger impact in the Valley,” stated Dr. Jeff Tang, an Associate Professor of Integrated Science and Technology. “This is a reasonable goal with a reasonable timeline,” stated Delp, “We have broad support through a very inclusive program, where we receive input from regional stakeholders, including power producers and utilities. It’s not asking for one hundred percent renewable energy next week, as traditional energy resources are going to be necessary for years to come. We’re just asking to give a quarter as a push in a more sustainable direction.”
More information on each of these projects and about renewable energy can be found at the new and improved Valley 25x’25 website,www.valley25x25.org.