Wayne State University construction management seniors volunteer 200 hours at Judson Center

For the past three years, seniors enrolled in the construction management program at Wayne State University, led by Program Director Joseph Vaglica, Ph.D., have been participating in the annual ELECTRI International/NECA Green Energy Challenge, which is integrated into the engineering capstone program. The main component of the competition is to challenge students to propose an energy upgrade design and simulation for a facility that provides community services.

This year's competition was held March 23 at the Judson Center, a mental health and social services provider based in Royal Oak, Michigan.

Students were instructed to achieve a net zero facility — meaning the total amount of energy used annually by the building is approximately equal to the level of renewable energy created on site — by incorporating energy saving measures and distributed energy resources based on the unique needs of the building and its climate. The competitors were expected to provide detailed technical solutions in the proposal by examining the past years’ utility expenses, planning the renovation design, estimating new system costs, and demonstrating energy efficiency improvements.

In addition, students were required to seek funding sources, such as state grants and tax benefits, and to perform a minimum of 200 hours of community service at the Judson Center.

“The environmental impact and the continuous increase in energy costs are driving the construction industry to pursue new design and technology alternatives. A thorough understanding of the science of building performances and effective design is required to achieve maximum energy efficiency and best cost-performance ratio,” said Vaglica. “Therefore, a paradigm shift is needed in a university’s curriculum by adding new materials and endeavors to train the future ranks of engineers who will face the challenges of ‘green energy’ construction.” 

Students upgraded the landscaping on the campus grounds and installed a new security system which will allow Judson Center staff members to see guests before they enter the building and remotely allow guests to enter via an intercom and camera system. Other projects included caulking windows, changing lights, painting and assisting with housekeeping needs.

The Judson Center is a non-profit human service agency that provides comprehensive services to children and families throughout southeast Michigan that have been impacted by abuse and neglect, autism, developmental disabilities and mental health challenges. The organization has provided care to more than 10,000 children, adults and families each year since it first opened in 1924.


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