Partnership Trains Interns and Saves Borough Money

Partnership Trains Interns and Saves Borough Money

In 2016 ACEP and the Fairbanks North Star Borough began a partnership to coordinate energy programs and projects involving energy efficiency, energy delivery, and renewable energy systems in borough facilities.

To this end, ACEP has supported an intern position working in the energy management program at the borough. In the past year, three interns have worked with the borough’s energy management engineer, Ben Loeffler, to collect, analyze and evaluate the energy systems data. The intern program has proved valuable to the borough and students alike, with each intern gaining real-world experience with building energy systems and controls while also identifying energy savings opportunities.

Riley Troyer, then a senior in majoring in physics at UAF, developed code in Python language to automate the borough’s utility billing data entry, saving the borough over 50 labor-hours per year while improving database accuracy. Riley also wrote code to consolidate data from the borough’s building automation systems (the computers that control ventilation and heating systems). Riley’s early analysis yielded $30,000 in annual energy savings, through improved scheduling, and identified potential benefits from improved humidity control in pool facilities.

Tessa Weeden, a junior double majoring in biomedical engineering and environmental engineering, interned during the summer of 2018 while home from her studies at Carnegie Mellon University. Tessa expanded on Riley’s work by analyzing the thermodynamic performance of heat recovery ventilation at Hamme Pool. Tessa also developed a graphical user interface to allow standard analysis and plotting of subsystem data from air handlers and pumps.

Sherjeel Cheema, a senior majoring in electrical engineering at UAF, is currently working on Python code to evaluate the energy cost drivers of ventilation systems to identify the energy savings potential of better matching ventilation to occupancy requirements.


Tessa Weeden stands near the leachate circulation pump at the FNSB landfill. Photo courtesy of Ben Loeffler.