Energy Week 2018 Recap

The 12th annual Notre Dame Energy Week extended beyond the traditional week-long format and was consequently billed as “Energy Week Plus” this year. The extensive program, sponsored by ND Energy and its Student Energy Board, offered a wide range of activities focused on major energy topics and issues of interest to the Notre Dame community.

Energy Week Plus was anchored by five presentations which took place between September 17-26. Ashish Sharma, research assistant professor in the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering and Earth Sciences, kicked things off by examining the effect of rising temperatures on the poorest neighborhoods in Chicago and how green roofs can help improve urban resiliency to extreme heat.

Kodiak Electric Association CEO Darron Scott visited campus to share how his electric cooperative has implemented a nearly 100% renewable energy system through hydroelectric and wind power. Not only has the island reduced their carbon emissions, but they have also reaped economic benefits. In less than a decade, the energy savings have already surpassed the initial investment of the project. 

Here at home, Senior Director of Utilities and Maintenance Paul Kempf highlighted Notre Dame’s own investment in renewable energy sources and the goal to reduce carbon emissions. The University’s effort to stop burning coal by 2020 is now ahead of schedule.

During the “Plus” week, Environmental Change Initiative Associate Director Patrick Regan considered the role of politics in the climate change debate. Prof. Regan contended that the science has been settled; however, the political environment has created resistance in adopting policy to respond to a potentially catastrophic outcome.

The final presentation was given by Arturo Massol-Deyá, executive director of the award-winning organization Casa Pueblo, which operated as an energy oasis in the aftermath of Hurricane Maria in 2017. With the use of solar panels and independent microgrids, Casa Pueblo serves as a model for the future energy infrastructure of the entire island. (See videotaped presentation on YouTube)

Throughout the week and a half, tours of energy-related facilities were offered to faculty, students, and staff. In addition to the popular tours of the Notre Dame power plant and the solar panels on the roof of Stinson-Remick Hall, the newly relocated Materials Characterization Facility in Stepan Chemistry Hall showcased its instrumentation and capabilities.

Other events included ND Energy’s What’s It Really Like? series. Graduate students from various affiliated research groups met with undergraduate students to provide insight into life working in their laboratories. The labs of faculty members Jason Hicks, Eric Matlis, Peter Burns, and Prashant Kamat all participated. Additionally, the Office of Sustainability discussed potential career paths in sustainability.

Energy Week Plus received support from a broad array of campus partners: Center for Civic Innovation; Center for Social Concerns; Department of Romance Languages and Literatures; Environmental Change Initiative; Hesburgh Program in Public Service; Institute for Latino Studies; John J. Reilly Center for Science, Technology, and Values; Kroc Institute for International Peace Studies; Notre Dame Initiative for Global Development; Office of Digital Learning; and Office of Sustainability

View 2018 Energy Week Plus photo album