‘Audit Squad’ wins national award

June 8th, 2015 Comments Off on ‘Audit Squad’ wins national award

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Three Mississippi State University Students were recently honored with the inaugural Building Technology Educators Society Student Award.

Senior architecture students Cody Smith and Aaron “Ria” Bennett and building construction science major William “Bill” Plott made up an independent study class taught by Assistant Professor Emily McGlohn.

The group, dubbed “The Audit Squad,” worked throughout the year with McGlohn studying the relationship between energy efficiency and the quality of construction.

In the fall, the Audit Squad traveled to Greenwood to test air infiltration rates of the new Katrina cottages in the Baptist Town neighborhood. They also paid a visit to the Auburn University’s Rural Studio to perform tests on some of their projects.

“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.”

After analyzing their results, the squad began working on their own independent research project in which they tested 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.

The results of their findings make up their award-winning paper, “The Leaky American Dream: A Study of Air Infiltration Rates of Residential Construction Over Forty Years.”

Bennett and Smith have also been awarded the School of Architecture’s Jason Labutka Travel Scholarship, which will fund their trip to accept the group award and a $1,000 check at the 2015 BTES Conference in Utah at the end of June.

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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, McGlohn and new Audit Squad members 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.”

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