EnergyWhiz to Showcase Students’ Solar Cars, Cookers and Inventions, Hydrogen Cars and Contraptions

March 21st, 2016

By Sherri Shields
March 21, 2016

COCOA, FL–Elementary, middle and high school students—from Jamaica to Virginia—will show off their energy conscious inventions during the EnergyWhiz competition on Saturday, May 14th.

EnergyWhiz is a daylong event where students showcase their hands-on renewable energy products, which reflect their knowledge of alternative energy fuel sources and use scientific know-how, creative thinking, experimentation and teamwork. The students have built everything from solar-powered vehicles and cooking ovens to remote controlled hydrogen-powered mini-vehicles.

The Junior Solar Sprint competition is judged on technology, craftsmanship, appearance and performance.

The Junior Solar Sprint competition is judged on technology, craftsmanship, appearance and performance.

The annual event is held from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. on the Cocoa campus of the University of Central Florida (UCF) and Eastern Florida State College, at UCF’s Florida Solar Energy Center, 1679 Clearlake Road. The event is free and open to the public.

Activities will include: Junior Solar Sprint, Energy Innovations, Energy Transfer Machine, Bright House Solar Energy Cookoff, the Electrathon, and the Hydrogen Horizon Automotive Challenge. Read the rest of this entry »

Gainesville Middle School Science Bowl Team Overtakes Miami in Double-Elimination, Melbourne Team Places Third

March 16th, 2016

By Sherri Shields
March 16, 2015

Florida is one of 50 regional science bowl competitions nationwide that yields the winning team that advances to the National Middle School Science Bowl. This year, 17 middle school teams came to the Florida Solar Energy Center (FSEC), a research institute of the University of Central Florida, in Cocoa on March 5 to flex their intellect muscle in a fast-paced question-and-answer competition.

Four-member teams sit at a six-foot table, waiting for their question to be delivered.

Seventeen Florida teams competed in the double-elimination regional science bowl challenge.

Sponsored by the U.S. Department of Energy’s Office of Science, the science bowl encourages middle school students to excel in mathematics, science and engineering. It provides an avenue of enrichment and reward for academic science achievement

Eight Florida finalist teams worked through the double elimination rounds over the course of several hours. Those teams were: Abraham Lincoln Middle from Gainesville, Archimedean Middle Conservatory from Miami, Edgewood Jr/Sr. High from Merritt Island, Falcon Cove Middle from Weston, Forest Grove Middle from Ft. Pierce, Westglades Middle from Coral Springs, West Shore Jr./Sr. from Melbourne, and Westwood Middle from Gainesville.

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New Home Energy Rating Software, EnergyGauge® USA 5.0 Released; Free Trial Available for Limited Time

August 24th, 2015

24 August 2015

EnergyGauge USA logo with eagle head on top of red, white, and blue-starred background.

EnergyGauge USA Version 5.0 is now available

Newly accredited by RESNET as a Home Energy Rating Software (HERS), IECC and Tax Credit tool, EnergyGauge USA 5.0, will be available as a free trial product for 90-days (or until November 30, 2015, whichever comes first). Any interested party may download Version 5.0 to examine the impacts of the ANSI/RESNET 301-2014 Standard on their most popular home designs.

Version 5.0 fully implements the new ANSI/RESNET 301-2014 Addendum A, hot water system calculations. These new hot water calculations allow HERS ratings to gain HERS credits for improved plumbing design, hot water piping insulation, low-flow fixtures, drain water heat recovery systems (DWHR), hot water recirculation systems and low water-use clothes washers and dishwashers. It also supports the national EPA ENERGY STAR new home program qualification and the U.S. DOE Zero Energy Ready Homes (ZERH) new home program qualification.

The trial offer of EnergyGauge USA 5.0 will not allow RESNET registration of HERS Ratings. To be able to register ratings with the RESNET Registry using EnergyGauge USA 5.0, certified raters will need to purchase a license for the software.

To download the free 90-day trial offer, simply go to http://energygauge.com/usares/trial50.htm and click on the download button.

EnergyGauge software is a product of FSEC, a research institute of the University of Central Florida.

Dr. Lixing Gu Receives ASHRAE Distinguished Service Award

August 11th, 2015

By Kelsey Dwyer
August 11, 2015

Dr. Lixing Gu, principal research engineer in the Buildings Research department at FSEC, has received the American Society of Heating, Refrigeration, and Air-Conditioning Engineers (ASHRAE) Distinguished Service Award at ASHRAE’s 2015 Annual Conference in Atlanta, Georgia. He received this award by exceeding 15 service points, exhibiting his abundance of service to the society.  Dr. Gu has dedicated much of his time and talent to ASHRAE, from completing research projects to publishing papers and reports in ASHRAE journals. Robin Vieira, director of the Buildings Research at FSEC, spoke highly of Dr. Gu’s accomplishments, saying, “This was a well-deserved award for Dr. Gu, who has contributed greatly to the knowledge base of heat transfers and buildings for the past 27 years.”

FSEC's Dr. Lixing Gu receives ASHRAE Distinguished Service award.

FSEC’s Dr. Lixing Gu, right, receives ASHRAE’s Distinguished Service Award.

Energy Audits for Rural Small Businesses

June 5th, 2015

Revised June 10, 2015

The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Rural Energy for America Program (REAP) offers Renewable Energy Systems & Energy Efficiency Improvement Loans & Grants to rural small businesses. USDA chose the University of Central Florida’s FSEC to provide a limited number of subsidized building energy audits to small businesses in rural Florida communities who are eligible for the grants and loans. Audit candidates must also meet FSEC criteria, which will be determined by a phone interview.

Photo of small town businesses on a "main street."

A limited number of subsidized building energy audits will be available to small businesses in rural Florida communities. Photo: ThinkStock.com

What is a building energy audit? An energy audit is an assessment of the energy use and energy saving opportunities in a building. The business or building owners play a role in the audit by providing utility bills and getting quotes for the improvements to facilitate cost-benefit calculations. The audit report provides recommendations and calculations that help applicants complete the technical sections of the Renewable Energy Systems & Energy Efficiency Improvement Loan & Grant applications.

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New Florida Energy Code Effective June 30, 2015. Sign Up for the Training You Need; Limited Time Discount Available

June 4th, 2015

By Sherri Shields
June 4, 2015
Updated: July 01, 2015

Florida Building Code Fifth Edition (2014) Energy Conservation

FSEC training courses will address the changes in the Florida Building Code, Fifth Edition (2014) Energy Conservation.

New Florida Energy Conservation Code—5th Edition (2014)—is effective June 30, 2015*.

*Notice of Legislative Delay: SB 2502-A, Section 69, Chapter 2015-222 Laws of Florida 5th Edition (2014) Florida Building Code

Residential energy code changes include:

  • Building air leakage rate testing and limit requirements
  • New prescriptive compliance requirements
  • New performance compliance reference values

Commercial energy code changes include new methods for code compliance:

  • ASHRAE prescriptive method
  • ASHRAE energy cost budget method
  • ASHRAE envelope trade-off option method
  • IECC prescriptive method
  • IECC performance method.

Get the updates and training you need.  Sign up by July 31 for a $50 discount (use discount code “Newcode”) on the following courses:

A complete list of FSEC courses can be found at: http://ce.fsec.ucf.edu/.

 

EnergyWhiz Energizes Students in Hydrogen and Solar

May 28th, 2015

By Sherri Shields
May 28, 2015

It’s a growing phenomenon in Florida! From the Panhandle to the Keys, EnergyWhiz is drawing in students fascinated with renewable energy technology.

EnergyWhiz logo

EnergyWhiz – a venue for students to demonstrate their science, technology, engineering, art, and math capabilities through hands-on, energy-focused projects and activities.

EnergyWhiz, which includes six separate competitions, is a venue for students in grades fourth through 12th to demonstrate their science, technology, engineering, art and mathematics capabilities through hands-on, energy-focused competitions. At this year’s 13th annual event on May 2, more than 650 energized students from across Florida converged at the University of Central Florida’s FSEC in Cocoa to showcase their renewable energy projects and participate in the competitions. “We like making things run on the sun,” said Conner Dale, a student from Edgewood Junior Senior High. “It’s fun to interact with other students from across the state,” added Raydn Hall.

Tallahassee, Gainesville and Orlando hosted smaller EnergyWhiz Expos this year, leading up to the major EnergyWhiz event. “In an effort to reach more students, we’re encouraging teachers across Florida to host regional EnergyWhiz Expos, and then the winners of the expos will advance to the state level and compete at FSEC,” said Susan Schleith, K-12 education director at FSEC.

Students with red clown noses and neon colored wigs stand around contraption while judges look on.

Team Welcome to the Carnival from Milwee Middle School in Longwood earns the WOW! Award in the Hydrogen Challenge. Photo: Sherri Shields

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Energy Department Funds UCF Research in Housing Innovations

May 14th, 2015

By Barb Abney
May 14, 2015

Photo of Eric Martin in lab, leaning on test wall structure.

Eric Martin at FSEC’s Flexible Residential Testing Facility. Credit: Nicholas Waters

 

The University of Central Florida is the only university-led team in the nation to receive part of a $4 million investment by the Energy Department to develop and demonstrate energy efficient methods of keeping homes cool in the summer and warm in winter.

The Energy Department’s Building America program is working with industry partners to develop cutting-edge innovations and resources that will lead to 50 percent savings in new homes by 2025 and 40 percent savings in existing homes by 2030.

The Building America Partnership for Improved Residential Construction, led by UCF’s Florida Solar Energy Center (FSEC), will receive nearly $1 million for research focused on optimal comfort systems for heating, cooling, air distribution, and humidity control. The project will also study high performance ventilation systems and indoor air quality strategies.

“This research will help us develop integrated approaches to making homes more energy efficient while keeping them comfortable, healthy and durable,” said Eric Martin, the project’s lead researcher and program director in FSEC’s Building Research Division.

Much of the work focuses on cooling applications in hot and humid climates like Florida’s. Work on keeping homes warm in the winter will be conducted by partners at Washington State University.

Experiments will be conducted in laboratory homes located at FSEC, as well as in occupied homes.

“To ensure near-term market penetration, we are working with several industry partners including production home builders and product manufacturers,” Martin said. “But we are also focused on influencing codes and standards, which can result in a significant market impact for years to come.”

A major focus of the Building America program is reducing home heating and cooling because combined they represent the highest single energy use for U.S. homeowners or 40 percent of a home’s energy consumption. In 2014, U.S. homeowners spent $70 billion to heat their homes and $24 billion to cool them. Improving the energy efficiency of home heating and cooling systems and building envelopes including roof, walls and windows is estimated to potentially reduce space conditioning energy consumption by as much as 70 percent.

Over the past 20 years FSEC has led three Building America Industry Partnerships: the Energy Efficient Industrialized Housing Partnership, the Building America Industrialized Housing Partnership and the Building America Partnership for Improved Residential Construction.

2015 EnergyWhiz Winners

May 4th, 2015

REVISED
May 21, 2015

SOLAR ENERGY COOKOFF

EnergyWhiz logo

EnergyWhiz – a forum for students to demonstrate their science, technology, engineering, art, and math capabilities through hands-on, energy-focused projects and activities.

Best Design – Yellow Division

  • 1st Place – Red Hot Chili Peppers, Ocean Breeze Elementary, Indian Harbor Beach
  • 2nd Place – Team B.A.M., Martinez Middle, Lutz
  • 3rd Place – Solar Sizzlers, Newberry Elementary, Newberry

Best Design – Orange Division

  • 1st Place – Solar Buddies, Hidden Oaks Middle, Palm City
  • 2nd Place – Rain in Spain Cooking Company, Lake Nona Middle, Orlando
  • 3rd Place – Girls, Doing Work!, Lake Nona Middle, Orlando

Best Design – Red Division

  • 1st Place – Solar Apes, Pine Ridge High, Deltona
  • 2nd Place – Thunder Tabemono, Lake Region High, Eagle Lake
  • 3rd Place – The Doctor’s Delight, Edgewood Jr/Sr High, Merritt Island

Read the rest of this entry »

MEDIA ADVISORY: Student-Designed and Built Solar Cars, Electric Go-Carts, Solar Cookers, Hydrogen Cars and Contraptions, Energy Efficient Pet Homes and Solar Inventions – All in One Day!

April 8th, 2015

By Sherri Shields
April 8, 2015

WHY:

The 13th annual EnergyWhiz, a daylong event showcasing student-built energy projects. These hands-on renewable energy activities expose students to alternative energy fuel sources and encourage scientific know-how, creative thinking, experimentation and teamwork.

WHO:

More than 800 elementary, middle, high school and college students from across Florida will participate in the University of Central Florida/ Florida Solar Energy Center event.

Brevard County Parks and Recreation, in partnership with FSEC, is sponsoring the EcoLiving Jubilee, where various energy and environmental organizations will be on site to share information about their products and services.

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