Lights, CAD, Action: Students Look to Make Boston Shelter More Energy Efficient

April 27, 2018

Members of Wentworth’s National Electrical Contractors Association (NECA) recently had an eye-opening visit to the 112 Southampton Street Shelter in Boston.

“I was taken aback when I saw the homeless shelter. It’s a sad reality that we live in, and it is so close to our community,” said Charlie Pigott, BSCM ‘19. “It is tough to see people struggling, and you want to help them as much you can.”

The group decided to pitch in by meeting with coordinators from the Boston Public Health Commission and noting several ways the shelter can become more energy efficient.

The visit to the shelter coincides with the Green Energy Challenge Competition, which gives NECA student chapters an opportunity to create complex solutions to electrical construction management problems.

The group of students — Pigott; Kyle Gillis, BSCM ’18; Anthony Visconti, BSCM ‘20; and Soriya Peng, BSCM ‘18 — is working with NECA contractors, such as JM Electrical, Sullivan & McLaughlin, McDonald Electric, and Mass. Electric. Each contractor is providing continuous feedback to the students creating the proposal.  

The goal is to create an energy efficiency plan for a client for a public building within the surrounding area. The proposal allows the students to identify changes needed for the building, while also addressing the specific wants of shelter personnel.

The students have taken a comprehensive approach, with each assigned to work on a different portion of the project. Gillis is focusing on an energy efficiency analysis; Pigott and Visconti are working on lighting retrofit; and Peng is targeting solar design. Through the project, Visconti and Peng both hope to learn valuable skills about creating a proposal. After the different portions are completed, each individual must work together to create a cost estimate, schedule, and financial plans. The students use different tools, such as revit, CAD (computer-aided design), and estimating software, to bring the project together.

“I absolutely think it’s important to be well-versed in software when you’re in electrical and engineering fields,” says Gillis. “That is where the whole industry is heading.”

The faculty advisor for Wentworth’s NECA, William Kearney, assistant professor in the Department of Construction Management, suggests specific approaches and holds the team to deadlines. He worked alongside his students to serve dinner at the women’s homeless shelter at the end of March.

“I hope the students are able to further their relationships with the local NECA chapter and contractors through this project,” says Kearney. “I want them to be exposed to the communication world of electrical efficiency contracting.”

Wentworth’s NECA group previously worked on the energy efficiency within Tobin Elementary School.

“I was excited about the community service aspect of working at the school, especially when I saw the excitement in the kids’ eyes when we talked to them about solar energy,” says Gillis of Tobin.

Gillis hopes to build on a relationship with the Boston Public Health Commission. The group next creates a proposal by May 1, and then waits to see if they place third or above in the Green Energy Challenge Competition so they can deliver an oral presentation in October.

Project Scope

  • Energy Efficiency Upgrades:
    • Lighting Retrofit: LED Fixture Replacement, Daylight Sensing Control, A/B Switching
    • Rooftop Solar System: Annual Production: 131.8 MWh, 81.4% System Efficiency, 316 Solar Panels, New Roofing System and Thermal Protection, Solar Energy Storage
    • Building Envelope Upgrades: Window Replacements and Roofing Replacement
    • HVAC Upgrades: Winter/Summer Fan Settings, Direct Digital HVAC Controls

Find photos of the group's recent visit to 112 Southampton Street Shelter below or at this link.

--Sumya Mohiuddin

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