STEM Engaged Learning

Natural Resources at CSU Dominguez Hills

The possibilities seem endless for the students in GEOG 420 Natural Resources at CSU Dominguez Hills (CSUDH). "Enthusiasm was high, attendance was excellent, students were engaged and the lowest grade in the class was a B-," said Judy King, professor of earth sciences. GEOG 420 familiarizes students with renewable, potentially renewable and finite resources. To bring that learning to life in an applied way, professor King partnered with Kenny Seeton, the CSUDH campus central plant and energy manager, to allow students to do first-hand investigations of potential energy and water savings in buildings and structures on campus, with emphasis on "practical" ideas that had a chance of being realized.

Thirty students were placed into ten teams, selecting an efficiency topic of their choosing, conducting the appropriate research and data gathering, and then presenting reports on their topic, including spreadsheets showing potential savings, installation costs, time for return on investment and maps of affected building and parking lots.

Some of the projects identified and researched by the students included: photovoltaic carports; changing default margins and requiring double-sided printing on all University copying to save paper and energy; replacing vending machines with Energy Star models, de-lamping machines in lighted areas, moving machines inside where possible, and adding infrared sensors to monitor motion and temperature so machines may power down when the area is vacant; replacing lights in parking lots and major walkways with incandescent and solar powered lights; replacing existing fluorescent lights in the first floor of just one building with lower wattage lamps for a 10-year projected savings of over $40,000; and installing a lighting control system in an academic complex for a savings of 50% to 70% per year with an investment recovery period of four years.

Students also applied their findings to develop partnerships with energy saving companies they researched. Enlighted, Inc. and Visionaire Lighting were two companies that were so impressed with the student projects that they decided to donate smart sensors and a solar fixture to the campus. As Kenny Seeton shared, "I see this as a new beginning that the class should take pride in, knowing that their efforts will have a lasting effect on the CSUDH campus and they will inspire future students to see that their homework can be more rewarding than just a grade."

For more information on the CSU Dominguez Hills lighting retrofit, visit the full story.

To take their work one step further, students presented at Student Research Day and also participated in the Labor and Social Justice Fair on campus to publicize their findings and savings.

To learn more about this grant project, we invite you to view the photos and videos below.

CSU Dominguez Hills students share their plans to conduct a lighting retrofit on campus with campus facilities staff.

The CSU Dominguez Hills Science Club educates others about energy efficiency during an Earth Day festival.

CSU Dominguez Hills students share their ideas for increasing energy efficiency on campus.