Sustainable Demonstration House: Retrofit an Existing, Older Home into an Energy Efficient Residence

Institution: Michigan Technological University
Funders (11)
Views (1,776)

Why This Project Is Important 

We have picked the house! It is the former University Residence!! Help us restore this house to its original beauty plus make it energy efficient. This project is about helping Western Upper Peninsula households reduce energy consumption, save money, and reduce carbon impact. The area has low median household incomes, high unemployment, old housing stock, high number of heating degree days, an elderly demographic, and a significant segment of the population living in rental housing. At $0.25/Kw-hr, the electric rates in the area place severe energy burdens on such vulnerable populations. Residents and businesses are concerned and eager to learn what energy efficiency and renewable energy steps they can take to reduce costs and carbon impact. The residence outlined here will be a model “net zero energy demo house.” Working with local community organizations, this student-led project will demonstrate economical and environmental sustainability through efficiency enhancements and retrofits, managing and recycling waste, and utilize renewable resources to generate energy.

Students who live in the model residence will be expected to participate in outreach activities throughout the local community and online to help people learn about, experience, and make their own energy reductions. There are many older homes in the Western Upper Peninsula that were constructed during the mining boom a century ago. The model home will serve as an example of how similar homes throughout the UP and the rest of Michigan can be renovated for sustainable living. The Enterprise program is a unique multi-year, multi-disciplinary curriculum that promotes development of students’ technical, business, and interpersonal skills in a business-like environment.

Project Description 

The Alternative Energy Enterprise at Michigan Tech will retrofit an existing, older home into an energy efficient residence, incorporating renewable energy generation. The goal is to set up a Sustainable Demonstration House to serve as a resource for the broader community to learn about, test and experience energy efficient/low carbon living. The residence will also incorporate waste reduction and sustainable gardening.

The sustainable house will be a part of the Engineering Enterprise program involving students to live in and continually improve the residence. Housing an interdisciplinary mix of students, who participate in sustainablility and energy-related organizations on campus, they will host open houses, and help community members improve the efficiency of their homes. Resident students will pay rent, which will help maintain the house. Continual improvement will begin with a professional energy audit which students will learn how to do, and repeat as improvements are made to the house. Energy monitoring devices will be researched and installed to keep track of electric and natural gas consumption. Data produced from monitoring these devices and teh value of improvements will be published for the community to follow on the website. Tours of the house will also be scheduled, which will be open to the community, so everyone can see what is being done. Finally, the Alternative Energy Enterprise students will design and install solar panels as part of their class project.

Meet the Researchers

Jay Meldrum

Jay S. Meldrum is the Executive Director of Michigan Tech's Keweenaw Research Center (KRC)and and is the Executive Director of Sustainability for the University. KRC is a soft-money research arm of Michigan Tech University and employs approximately 30 scientists and engineers to provide a wide range of applied research services to clients in government and industry. Research expenditures of KRC are approximately $8 MM annually.
The U.S. Army Tank-automotive and Armaments Command (TACOM) is the Keweenaw Research Center's primary sponsor, with several active R&D contracts now under way. Projects involve vehicle mobility studies in rough terrains and snow on the Center's 900 acre proving grounds.
Meldrum is an active member of the Society of Automotive Engineers (SAE) and has served on several committees and boards including the The Board of Directors (2014-2016). Meldrum is the lead organizer for the SAE Clean Snowmobile Challenge, a Collegiate Design Series Competition that promotes the redesign of snowmobiles for lower emissions, lower noise output, and better fuel economy. This week-long event brings hundreds of volunteers and competitors to the Keweenaw and is a big boost to the local economy. Meldrum is the faculty advisor for the Alternative Energy Enterprise which covers projects including solar panels, wind turbines, geothermal heat pumps, fuel cells, and bio-fuels.
Meldrum earned an MS in Mechanical Engineering from the University of...

Lindsey Wells

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of $15,000 fund goal
The average donation for this project is $3390
days left

What Your Donation Can Help Us Do: 

  • Donations to the Sustainability House will be used for a variety of enhancements to make the house more energy efficient. These include the following:
  • Purchase: professional energy audit, energy monitoring devices for electric and natural gas consumption, thermal camera, high efficiency appliances (furnance, refrigerator, and stove), Gardening tools, and a compost bin
  • Design: solar panels

$100+ (10/100)

Plaque on the wall of the residence

$250+ (4/40)

Acknowledgement as a Solar Panel Donor

$1,000+ (3/4)

Plaque on Appliance

40 Solar panels will provide 10 Kilowatts of power Appliance donations will go towards a refrigerator, stove, and furnace.

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Gifts to projects listed on SUPERIORIDEAS.ORG are received and processed by Michigan Tech Fund. Michigan Tech Fund is a tax-exempt organization under Section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code acting on behalf of Michigan Technological University. It is the policy of Michigan Tech Fund that a portion of the gifts and/or income therefrom may be used to defray the costs of raising and administering the funds.