ENVS 273: Energy and the Environment
As part of a Loyola University Chicago Institute of Environmental Sustainability (LUC IES) course that uses campus buildings as a “hands-on” lab to instruct students, Elara Engineering Principal Don McLauchlan was asked to co-teach ENVS 273 with Associate Professor and Graduate Program Director, Dr. Ping Jing, PhD about energy efficiency strategies for buildings.
Because Elara has either reviewed or designed the HVAC system for nearly every building on LUC’s Lakeshore Campus; of which 11 have attained LEED certification, Mr. McLauchlan could easily provide a significant number of “real-life” examples to the IES students. For example, he was able to discuss the use of natural light and natural ventilation built into the campus’ IES, Cuneo Hall, and Information Commons buildings and the types of computerized building management systems that are used in these and other campus facilities. Building on the engaged learning approach of the course, he led the students in performing an air leakage test. From Don’s experience, expertise, passion, and career-long commitment to energy efficiency, students became more energy conscious and gained an understanding that from a financial perspective, there is no reason to not be energy efficient when it comes to building design and the operation of their HVAC systems.
Mr. McLauchlan’s teaching role has been highlighted in a LUC IES Annual Report article (Page 14-15. LUC IES Annual Report) He is also an active member of the LUC IES Advisory Board.
ENVS 350b: Solutions to Environmental Problems (STEP): Biogas
Working closely with students to develop a feasibility study to research and analyze the potential to convert campus food waste to biogas – a renewable energy source, Mr. McLauchlan was an Advisor to one of the six student teams established to address a specific challenge that arises from converting campus food waste to campus energy. Some of challenges addressed included conversion rates and converting biogas to electricity, the logistics of transporting campus food waste, and compliance with LUC and City of Chicago regulations. The biogas to electricity research team that Don supported had to address a fairly technical topic. However, despite this, his student group was ultimately able to gain an understanding of the pros and cons regarding electricity generation and anaerobic digester equipment options to convert biomass (e.g., paper towels, food scraps, landscape waste, etc.) to the biogas needed to generate electricity or for space heating. This information was then incorporated in the feasibility study developed by the entire class.