Federal Government Helps Schools, Manufacturers Team Up for Energy Efficiency

Photo by Mech Mind on Unsplash
Published On
Jun 2, 2022

Government and private industry make great partners in the pursuit of new, greener technologies. The Industrial Assessment Center (IAC) program is a federally funded program that pairs colleges and universities with manufacturers to increase energy efficiency and cut down on emissions.

The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) recently announced an infusion of dollars to expand the program. Drawing on funding from the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law passed last fall, the IAC program will receive $7 million to add more schools to the roster and expand training opportunities.

Created in 1976, the IAC trains teams at universities and colleges around the country who conduct no-cost assessments for small- and medium-sized manufacturers to identify opportunities to improve productivity and competitiveness, reduce waste and save energy.

Assessments involve an in-depth evaluation of a facility conducted by engineering faculty with upperclass and graduate students. After a remote survey of the plant, the team conducts a one or two-day site visit to take engineering measurements. The team performs a detailed process analysis to generate specific recommendations with estimates of costs, performance and payback times. Within 60 days, the plant receives a confidential report detailing the analysis, findings and recommendations. In 6–9 months, the IAC team calls the plant manager to verify what recommendations have been implemented.

The DOE reports that IAC teams “typically identify more than $130,000 in potential annual savings opportunities for every manufacturer assessed, nearly $50,000 of which is implemented during the first year following the assessment.” Since the program began, more than 19,500 IAC assessments have been conducted.

Manufacturers can also look for energy-efficiency ideas by searching the program’s database of completed assessments (which include recommended energy-saving projects) that have been made publicly available.

Currently, 39 schools across the country have participating IAC assessment centers on their campus. With the new round of funding, five more centers will be added at the campuses of the Georgia Institute of Technology, San Jose State University, University of Delaware, University of North Texas and San Diego State University.

The program is also a job creator, providing students with a multitude of skills and abilities through real-world experience. IACs train engineers, more than 60% of whom, according to the DOE, pursue energy-related careers upon graduation.

About the Author

Rick Laezman

Freelance Writer

Rick Laezman is a Los Angeles-based freelance writer who has been covering renewable power for more than 10 years. He may be reached at richardlaezman@msn.com.

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