A University of
Delaware graduate student, participating in a highly selective
Environmental Defense Fund (EDF) program, has been recognized for his
work in designing a tool to monitor and compare energy and water use at
various hotel and resort properties.
Joseph Nyangon, a doctoral candidate in the Energy and Environmental Policy Program in UD’s Center for Energy and Environmental Policy (CEEP), was chosen as an EDF Climate Corps fellow in 2015.
The program embeds highly trained graduate students from top
universities in companies and large organizations that are seeking to
improve their environmental impact.
Nyangon was placed with Starwood Hotels and Resorts Worldwide, which
was looking for a way to easily monitor the energy and water use at its
He was charged with developing a tool that could improve Starwood’s
sustainability and save the company money by, for example, quickly
identifying problems with inefficient water or heating and air
conditioning systems. The goal was to enable the company to compare a
particular hotel or resort’s actual and predicted energy use in real
time to find waste.
“I designed a tool where Starwood could review how a property was
doing and monitor its energy consumption anywhere in the world,” said
Nyangon, who has a background in engineering and a focus on big-data
analysis. “For example, if there was a water leak at a property in
Geneva, it could be detected in [corporate headquarters in] Connecticut
before the staff in Geneva even was aware of it.”
The monitoring tool relied on data collected by Starwood and on other
energy-use databases, with Nyangon designing a way for the company’s
data to be imported automatically and transferred into a system that its
property managers could easily access and understand.
He also conferred with his adviser at UD, John Byrne, Distinguished
Professor of Energy and Climate Policy and CEEP director, about
strategies for benchmarking energy efficiency in buildings.
EDF and CEEP have a long history of working together productively in placing students in the EDF Climate Corps
internship program, Byrne said. Nyangon’s fellowship was completed
during summer 2015, but he continued to work on the monitoring tool
during the next year as Starwood implemented it.
Feedback has been positive, the company said, and both EDF and
Starwood have featured the project in their publications. Estimates are
that it could save more than $2.4 million a year in energy costs.
“There’s no human interface needed with this tool, so you get
information automatically,” Nyangon said. “It makes it easy to compare
one property’s performance with others and also with its own previous
and expected performance.”
Article by Ann Manser