Energy-saving Pilot Project Is Under Way in Geosciences

Jun 19, 2015

Students and professors engage in Aggie Green Fund initiative to determine energy-cost savings of special window film.

The Aggie Green Fund awarded a $27,000 grant to apply an IR- and UV-reflective film, known commercially as V-Kool, to 80 windows in O&M and Halbouty. This project is a cooperative effort between the Dean’s Office and Environmental Programs’ GEOS 405 class, with generous technical support from Utilities and Energy Services (UES). The V-Kool film was applied to selected windows June 1-3. Maureen Reap, facilities coordinator, managed the project.

For a term project, a five-member student research team collected data during the spring semester – temperature trends, air volumes, comfort levels – for the “before” period.  They presented their data at a May 6 poster session at O&M. Succeeding teams of GEOS 405 students will continue observations for at least one calendar year to provide the “after” picture. It is hoped that the student data will substantiate the manufacturer’s claims of significant energy reduction.

The students have been assisted in their data collection by Utilities and Energy Services personnel. UES is taking a particular interest in this project as a potentially inexpensive way to reduce energy consumption on campus.

Students in Environmental Geosciences and Environmental Studies are required to take Geos 405, a writing-intensive capstone course, explained Christian Brannstrom, director of Environmental Programs in Geosciences. 

“In spring 2015, five students working under Dr. Brendan Roark's supervision developed a project that aimed to test the manufacturer’s claim that V-KOOL 40 window film will result in a five-year payback in terms of energy savings,” Brannstrom said. 

The students collected and analyzed data on the effect of V-KOOL 40 window film, using solar radiation and temperature sensors on test sites in Halbouty and O&M. According to Brannstrom, the students found significant differences between film and non-film windows. Sixty percent of incoming solar radiation was reflected, slightly less than the 65 percent claimed by the manufacturer.

Monitoring is continuing post-installation of the film with students in future GEOS 405 courses using the data to determine what the actual energy savings have been and refining the true payback period should all the windows in O&M be coated in V-KOOL film.

“This project is a good example of the real-world, problem-based learning undertaken in GEOS 405 with multiple partners across the University that should directly benefit energy conservation at Texas A&M,” Brendan Roark said.

By Maureen Reap, with contributions from Christian Brannstrom and Brendan Roark