Connecticut universities join nationwide sustainable industry program 

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This month, the University of Connecticut joined the U.S. Department of Energy’s university-based Industrial Assessment Centers program to help train manufacturers in sustainable business practices, according to an article from UConn Today.

In July, the Department of Energy (DOE) committed $60 million in funding to the Industrial Assessment Centers (IACs) program. It’s the largest university-based cohort the program has ever seen, with 32 universities across 28 states, according to the Department of Energy

The Industrial Assessment Centers work to “train the next generation of energy-efficiency workers” by helping small and medium-sized manufacturers across the country reduce their carbon emissions and lower energy costs. 

“DOE’s university-based Industrial Assessment Centers are assisting small and medium-sized businesses – particularly those in disadvantaged and underrepresented communities – in the transition to a clean energy economy, building the next-generation energy workforce, and propelling America toward a carbon-free future by 2050,” said U.S. Secretary of Energy Jennifer M. Granholm. 

The IAC in Connecticut will be led by UConn Associate Professor of Engineering Dr. Liang Zhang. Nine other faculty members from UConn and the University of New Haven will join Zhang in conducting free environmental consultations at manufacturing sites across the state. 

“This is long overdue for Connecticut,” Zhang said. “And we believe that it will bring significant benefits to the state’s environment and economic development efforts through its service to the large number of small and medium manufacturers in the area.” 

According to the DOE, a single university-based consultation will typically identify more than $130,00 in potential annual savings opportunities for manufacturers without costing them anything. 

Secretary Granholm explained, “America’s best and brightest university students are successfully helping local manufacturers reduce pollution, save energy and cut their electricity bills.” 

By joining the University of New Haven, the new IAC will be able to reach more manufacturers in the area who have almost been neglected in the past. According to UConn Today, there are more than 1,000 manufacturers in the state that are eligible for free IAC consultations yet only 37 have been conducted in the past decade. 

Senator Chris Murphy (D-Conn.) also expressed his excitement to see UConn join the DOE’s initiative. 

“UConn’s work as one of the U.S. Department of Energy’s Industrial Assessment Centers will help local manufacturers cut emissions and energy costs while training the future generation of engineers, and I’m glad to see Connecticut as part of this major investment in clean energy,” Murphy said. 

Zhang and his team will also tap expertise from the universities’ long standing relationships with the Connecticut Department of Energy and Environmental Protection and utility companies, such as United Illuminating Company and Eversource Energy, which have pledged $600,000 over five years toward the program’s energy audit service. 

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