NECA takes part in 2013 Green Energy Challenge

National Electrical Contractors Association

Youngstown State University’s chapter of the National Electrical Contractors Association is entering the National Green Energy Challenge. Last year, YSU-NECA placed first at the conference in Las Vegas. Members hope to bring home another first place win in the fall. Photo courtesy of Ethan Parks.

Youngstown State University’s student chapter of the National Electrical Contractors Association is planning to compete in the 2013 Green Energy Challenge.

The challenge, sponsored by ELECTRI International and NECA, asks students to figure out how a certain section of campus can be made more energy efficient. This year, the challenge is to come up with ways for campus parking decks to become more environmentally friendly.

For the YSU students, this isn’t their first rodeo: They competed last year and took first place at the NECA National Convention in Las Vegas. In prior years, YSU-NECA took third and second place against chapters from nearly 20 other colleges and universities.

But before YSU-NECA members can start packing their bags for this year’s convention in Washington, D.C., they have to complete their plan by May 10.

“Now until May 10 is the stressful part. We’ll be relieved when we turn it in,” said David Wright, a YSU-NECA member.

Ethan Parks, vice president of YSU-NECA, said the group members plan to bring home another first place win.

Parks said this year’s challenge has been more difficult compared to last year’s plan, which involved the Youngstown Historical Center of Industry and Labor. There just aren’t many improvements relating to energy efficiency that can be made to a parking deck, he said.

“Yeah, there’s a lot to do and little time to do it,” Parks said.

The group plans to address the lighting in the M-1 parking deck for the challenge.

“With most high-pressure sodium fixtures, the color they give off make it seem darker than it is. With florescent LED fixtures, it’s more energy efficient and seems brighter,” Wright said.

Ted Bosela, YSU-NECA adviser, said focusing on lighting is a good route to take.

“A lot of technology goes into lighting, especially the bulbs,” he said.

Bosela said the T-12 lamps used in the M-1 parking deck are older, but that the T-8 lamps recommended by YSU-NECA are smaller and more energy efficient.

Nick Gealey, YSU-NECA member, said the group is also looking into electric car chargers for students. He said it’s also a good opportunity for members to network with local contractors.

“A big part of the project is estimating the numbers and making it feasible to the client, to show them the idea proposed is worth doing,” Parks said.

Even though the challenge allows students the opportunity to crunch numbers and work with local contractors, their ideas are rarely put into action.

However, Danny O’Connell, director of support services, said he’s going to take the findings to heart when considering ways to make the parking deck more energy efficient.

O’Connell said the replacement of the M-2 deck’s lights made the deck brighter, safer and more energy efficient.

“Based on the recommendations of this group, we may have different fixtures and improve the areas we can afford,” he said.

YSU-NECA isn’t the only voice that O’Connell is listening to. Group members are looking to their peers for recommendations in the form of a four-question survey that was sent out via email.

“It’s a chance for the whole campus to help these folks out with a national competition,” O’Connell said.

Parks said student involvement is what will set YSU-NECA’s project apart from other schools’ work.

Bosela said he’s is proud of the work they’ve done so far and hopes they’ll carry on the tradition of excellence.

“They’re going to keep getting better and better. Last year, they were able to regroup, come back and give a good presentation,” Bosela said. “It’s all a part of the learning experience.”