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NDSU faculty-led eFargo project is energy competition finalist

Posted on 12/7/2017

A national energy conservation competition has selected Fargo among its 10 finalists. Malini Srivastava, NDSU assistant professor of architecture, is the project leader for the "eFargo" partnership, which includes the city of Fargo, NDSU, Cass County Electric Cooperative and Xcel Energy.

The Georgetown University Energy Prize is a competition to rethink how America's small- to medium-sized communities use energy. Fargo is among the highest performing cities in the nation, based on total energy savings per household. Fargo has saved more than 172 billion BTUs of energy and reduced carbon emissions by 49,719 metric tons.

The eFargo team designed and implemented physical and digital games as a way to positively affect behavior, empowering occupants to engage in meaningful play to lower energy bills and have a positive environmental impact on the community.

"Our team's success hinged on the hard work and creativity of faculty, staff, recent graduates, numerous graduate and undergraduate students, and municipal and utility partners," said Srivastava. "Partnering with the city of Fargo and the utilities also provided the ability to work on municipal buildings based on energy-use data."

Srivastava said, "An engaged community, having fun while achieving meaningful results was critical to meeting and exceeding energy-saving targets over the two-year-long Georgetown University Energy Prize competition."

Fargo is currently fourth out of the 10 cities in the finalist round.

Later this month, judges representing academia and industry will evaluate the finalists' energy efficiency programs and select the winner, based on a combination of energy performance scores and best practices over the course of the two-year energy-saving period.

"Fargo is at the forefront of a nationwide competition to bring together communities with a shared goal of reducing energy consumption," said Uwe Brandes, Energy Prize executive director and faculty director of Georgetown's master's program in urban and regional planning, who will lead the final stage. "Our 10 finalists have achieved impressive energy savings and reduced municipal and household energy budgets. They serve as models for other communities across our country."

The eFargo research and design group is funded by the North Dakota Department of Commerce State Energy Program and initially received seed funding from the city of Fargo.

Some major eFargo strategies have included:

eFargo game

The team developed a game that attracted more than 300 participants during eight weeks.

K-12 Challenge

Fargo and West Fargo K-12 schools were challenged to reduce energy consumption over six weeks, incorporating energy-use concepts into the curriculum. Fargo's Roosevelt Elementary won the challenge, reducing the school's energy consumption by 29 percent.

High energy-efficiency house

eFargo has partnered with the city of Fargo to design and build four affordable, high-efficiency houses, designed by NDSU architecture students.

Experiential learning for students

NDSU students have worked with Srivastava to research, design and implement eFargo. A total of 25 undergraduate and graduate research assistants have helped research, design and implement eFargo strategies. They include Amber Grindeland, Mackenzie Lyseng, Ian Schimke, Nick Braaksma, Dylan Neururer, Gretta Berens, Peter Mueller, Alex Jansen, Noah Thompson, Ben Dalton, Noor Abdelhamid, Josh Highley, Aaron Warner, Samantha Marihart, Amy Mueller, Ryan Gapp, Sarah Watson, Rachel Marsh, Mitchell Nagel, Cari Roberts, Ryan Gram, Rachel Grider, Amy McDonald, Taylor Schuman, and Nate Wallestad.

City of Fargo interns also joined the team during summer break. They include Paige Vance, Kristina Kaupa and Kristina Heggedal.

In addition, NDSU faculty and staff collaborators include: eFargo fellows Peter Atwood, Troy Raisanen and Dylan Neururer; Huojun Yang, construction management and engineering; Anne Denton, computer science; and Rajesh Kavasseri, electrical and computer engineering.

The other finalists For the Georgetown University Energy Prize are:

Bellevue, Washington 

Bellingham, Washington 

Berkeley, California 

Chula Vista, California 

Fort Collins, Colorado

 Oberlin, Ohio

Montpelier, Vermont

Takoma Park, Maryland

Walla Walla, Washington

The winning community will receive a prize package that includes support toward $5 million in financing for an energy efficiency project, as well as workshops and educational opportunities.

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