Grants help ‘Audit Squad’ get started

April 10th, 2015 Comments Off on Grants help ‘Audit Squad’ get started

Students testing air infiltration rates of the new Katrina cottages in the Baptist Town neighborhood of Greenwood, MS. (Photo: Emily McGlohn)

Students testing air infiltration rates of the new Katrina cottages in the Baptist Town neighborhood of Greenwood, MS. (Photo: Emily McGlohn)

Students testing air infiltration rates of a 20K House at Auburn University's Rural Studio. They also demonstrated how to use the equipment.(Photo: Emily McGlohn)

Students testing air infiltration rates of a 20K House at Auburn University’s Rural Studio. They also demonstrated how to use the equipment.(Photo: Emily McGlohn)

Students testing air infiltration rates of the new Katrina cottages in the Baptist Town neighborhood of Greenwood, MS.(Photo: Emily McGlohn)

Students testing air infiltration rates of the new Katrina cottages in the Baptist Town neighborhood of Greenwood, MS.(Photo: Emily McGlohn)

Students testing air infiltration rates of the new Katrina cottages in the Baptist Town neighborhood of Greenwood, MS. (Photo: Emily McGlohn)

Students testing air infiltration rates of the new Katrina cottages in the Baptist Town neighborhood of Greenwood, MS. (Photo: Emily McGlohn)

Emily McGlohn has been experimenting with ways to introduce one of her research interests, the relationship between energy efficiency and the quality of construction, into the MSU’s School of Architecture curriculum while helping out the state at the same time.

“Building performance is easily tested with building diagnostic tools such as a blower door and thermal imaging camera,” said McGlohn.

So, the assistant professor used funds from her 2014 Schillig Grant, which she received for teaching excellence, to purchase the necessary testing equipment, and she secured a $500 Center for the Advancement of Service Learning Excellence (CASLE) mini grant to support travel.

McGlohn started an independent study course and recruited students interested in the topic. “The Audit Squad,” as she has dubbed the group, has been working this year to collect and analyze data.

In the fall, the Audit Squad – which includes Ria Bennet, third-year architecture major; Cody Smith, fourth-year architecture major; and Bill Plot, fourth-year building construction science major – traveled to Greenwood to test air infiltration rates of the new Katrina cottages in the Baptist Town neighborhood.

“The best way to understand how a building performs is to actually test it with tools,” said McGlohn, who explained that the lower the air infiltration rate, the better the envelope. “A high air infiltration rate signifies a leaky building.”

The group also paid a visit to the Auburn University’s Rural Studio to perform tests on some of their projects. While at the Rural Studio, McGlohn presented a lecture on air infiltration, and her Audit Squad shared what they had learned.

“The students loved it,” she said. “It was a lot of fun.”

After analyzing their results, the squad began working on their own independent research project, which they have submitted to the upcoming MSU Undergraduate Research Symposium. They used the newly purchased tools to test the air infiltration rates of a variety of student rental properties built in Starkville over the last 40 years to see if age has anything to do with the rates.

This summer, the research will continue in Greenwood.

Teaming up with the College of Architecture, Art and Design’s Enterprise Rose Fellow, Emily Roush Elliott, the Audit Squad will test the air infiltration rates of a variety of low-income housing in the Greenwood area to compare the typical rental property with more modern low-incoming housing.

The data will be analyzed next fall to try to quantify the monetary and health burdens that can come from leaky, low-income housing. The findings and suggestions for improvement will be shared in a brochure for distribution to nonprofit organizations that could benefit from the data.

“The overall main goal,” said McGlohn, “is to create a baseline metric of energy efficiency rates for low-income housing in the Mississippi Delta.”

Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,