CAES Energy Efficiency Research Institute (CEERI)
The Center for Advanced Energy Studies (CAES) has launched an initiative to build an Energy Efficiency Research Institute (EERI) focused on conserving energy, lowering costs and creating new professional opportunities. Drawing on the strengths of many partners, the institute will be housed at Boise State University.
EERI’s goals include developing energy efficiency concepts through research in applied technology and consumer behavior; providing specialized education for energy efficiency technicians, engineers and architects; evaluating existing energy-saving technologies; and creating infrastructure for the accelerated transfer of ideas from the institute to the marketplace.
Boise State is a partner in CAES along with Idaho State University, the University of Idaho and Idaho National Laboratory. With the formal support of Idaho Gov. C.L. “Butch” Otter, CAES has committed to establish EERI with additional support from Idaho Power, the Boise Metro Chamber of Commerce, J.R. Simplot Company, Micron Technology, National Resources Defense Council and Idaho Office of Energy Resources.
“This endeavor is an excellent example of the power of public-private partnerships,” said Boise State President Bob Kustra. “With the help of our sister institutions in higher education and leaders in Idaho industry and government, Boise State is eager to play a role in shaping the state’s energy future.”
CAES Director Harold Blackman said: “We are looking forward to Boise State playing a major role in the development of EERI, taking advantage and integrating with the strengths of each of the CAES partners.”
Development of EERI will be led by director John Gardner, a sustainability expert and professor of mechanical engineering at Boise State. His expertise comes from more than 20 years of teaching, millions in funded research and a proven record managing collaborative projects.
“Dr. Gardner’s background and accomplishments in academic research, educational programs and public outreach are a great combination to anchor and guide this statewide effort,” said Boise State Vice President for Research Mark Rudin.
As a member of the City of Boise Climate Protection Committee and the Boise Public Works Commission, Gardner has worked on citywide programs to minimize energy consumption through better planning, incentives for efficient design and changes in city operations. He also is a member of the Idaho Power Integrated Resource Plan Advisory Committee, which helps the utility make decisions regarding the evolving needs of customers.
In his current work through Boise State’s Division of Research, Gardner deals directly with facilities managers, electric utility representatives, state officials and executives to plan for sustainability programs. As EERI moves forward, he will continue guiding energy research, environmental policy and campus sustainability efforts at Boise State. These efforts have exposed many potential research issues that could be explored and applied more broadly through EERI.
“If there is one universal in today’s energy discussion, it is that cost-effective energy efficiency is the resource of choice from an economic, environmental and risk-reducing perspective,” said Ric Gale, senior vice president of corporate responsibility at Idaho Power.
The economic piece of EERI’s vision is especially relevant, not just in terms of the money that will be saved through new technology and training, but also regarding new opportunities for investment and employment.
“EERI will drive economic diversification and attract investment from the outside,” said Bill Connors, president and CEO of the Boise Metro Chamber of Commerce. “In the bigger picture, it adds to Idaho’s image as a leader in energy efficiency and renewable resources. More and more we are becoming known and positioned as an alternative energy hub and leader in America. This project helps cement that image.”
While the vision of EERI has evolved over the last few years, the initiative was reinvigorated at a 2010 Boise Metro Chamber-hosted leadership conference attended by administrators and executives from universities, businesses and government offices. The keynote speaker, Ralph Cavanagh of the Natural Resources Defense Council, spun a vision of partnership and progress that swept his audience into the excitement of the possibilities.
“So often, the enthusiasm surrounding a good idea fades before any real investment of time or resources is made,” said Rudin. “I am thrilled to see this initiative moving forward on the shoulders of every single partner. Its success depends on our continued collaboration and commitment to a brighter, more efficient future.”