A water treatment facility

UMass Amherst Center for Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy Receives $1.75 Million DOE Grant

Funds support energy assessments for industrial facilities and clean energy workforce development

The University of Massachusetts Amherst Center for Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy (CEERE) has received a five-year, $1.75 million grant from the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) to continue in the Industrial Assessment Center (IAC) program, providing industrial facilities with assessments to help reduce their environmental impact and operating costs.

NEWS IAC Group Photo

CEERE is based in the department of mechanical and industrial engineering. Its IAC is among 32 higher education institutions across the country sharing a $60 million award. UMass is one of the longest-serving universities in the program, having been selected by the DOE to receive funding continuously since 1984.

The program offers small- to medium-sized manufacturing facilities, water treatment plants and wastewater treatment plants throughout New England the opportunity to have their facility, equipment and processes assessed at no cost by a team of engineering faculty and students. To qualify, facilities must have annual energy costs between $100,000 and $2.5 million.

Within two months of visiting a facility, the UMass team provides a report detailing recommendations to reduce the use of electricity, fuel, water or other resources. The team also consider opportunities for renewable energy generation on the site, such as solar panel installation and use of energy storage to improve resiliency. The report includes analysis of potential resource and cost savings and emissions reductions, along with estimates for implementation costs and payback period.

UMass has completed 850 assessments for the IAC program. On average, the projected savings for implementation of all recommendations is projected to total $130,000 per year, or 13% of the facility’s annual energy costs. “We often find more savings opportunities than other energy audits because of our focus on the manufacturing process,” says CEERE Assistant Director Lauren Mattison.

For example, Cisco Brewing in Portsmouth, N.H., connected with CEERE after its staff had already taken steps to improve its energy efficiency. Still, the IAC assessment resulted in six recommendations that it estimated would yield the company annual savings of about $60,000, with an implementation cost that would be paid back in only six months.

An equally important goal of the program is to train undergraduate and graduate engineering students in energy technology.

“Increasing energy efficiency in industry and building the clean energy workforce are both critical to fighting climate change,” Mattison says. “Our graduates are in high demand for jobs with energy programs and engineering firms. They play an important role in advancing clean energy in Massachusetts and beyond.”

CEERE is recruiting facilities for free assessments, as well as students interested in participating in the IAC program. For more information, contact Lauren Mattison at laurenm@umass.edu or visit www.ceere.org/iac.