University of Georgia at Athens College of Agricultural and Environmental Science
Location: Athens, GA
Technology: Energy Audit
The University of Georgia at Athens (UGA) College of Agricultural and Environmental Science won a new sort of REAP grant in 2009. A $100,000 energy audit grant was awarded to a team from the college, led by Associate Professor Dr. John Worley, to provide affordable energy audits to poultry houses across the state. Poultry growers could apply for their own REAP grants using information gained from the audits.
Because there are so many poultry houses in Georgia — around 12,000 — and the equipment in many production houses is becoming outdated, focusing on the poultry industry was an effective target for improving the state’s energy efficiency. Worley said one common upgrade is to replace plastic ventilation curtains on the sides of houses with insulated walls. This single upgrade can cut energy use by as much as 50%.
Since starting the energy audit program, the college has audited over 1,000 poultry houses on 50 farms. Of these, Worley estimates 75-80% make subsequent upgrades. The REAP grant-funded audits identified energy efficiency actions that could save enough energy to power 5,600 homes, and now the university team continues to assist producers in improving their efficiency and lowering energy costs.
“The most satisfying thing is being able to help people operate more efficiently and more economically, cutting down on wasted energy,” Worley said. “If we can put money into helping people be more energy efficient and use less energy, then that’s probably the cheapest way to reduce our dependence on fossil fuels.”