Time and money are two obstacles that often prevent companies from implementing energy efficiency projects. To mitigate these concerns, the Kansas State University (K-State) Pollution Prevention Institute (PPI) began an intern program that places engineering students at commercial facilities, to conduct focused research on well-defined energy efficiency projects for 10 weeks. Throughout the three-year history of the program, interns have identified potential savings of more than 217.5 million gallons of water; 6,776 tons of waste; 6.8 million kWh of electricity; and approximately $4 million in operating or disposal costs.
Grants pay a portion of the interns' salaries, making the program even more cost-effective for participating companies. PPI staff provide energy efficiency training, technical resources, oversight, and project review to ensure the interns' data provide a solid foundation for project recommendations. PPI also provides light meters, data loggers, and an ultrasonic leak detector so the participating company doesn't have to purchase its own equipment for research.
Success of this program is evident from energy and cost savings, as well as the number of companies that return for additional interns. In the second year, two companies returned to the program. Five of seven companies were repeat participants in the third year, and three of six companies are repeating participants for the 2009 program. Three companies have applied for interns in three of the four years the program has been offered. One three-year participant has identified annual savings of approximately one million kWh of electricity and two million gallons of water.