SWAP Season 2: How students are leading the way in energy efficiency

By Christil Pasion, Cadet First Class, U.S. Air Force Academy on Nov 30, 2016

In the Air Force, energy is everything. As a civil engineering major at the Air Force Academy, I’ve come to learn how dependent we are on energy—we can’t do anything without it.

That’s why participating in the Department of Energy’s Better Buildings Challenge SWAP was such an important opportunity. As future leaders, those of us at the Air Force and Naval academies are going to be in charge of promoting energy efficient practices, and leading the way in green research.

I’d never been to another service academy before participating in SWAP, so I didn’t know what to expect. While of course there were differences in the way the two academies operate, it was also great to see how much we actually have in common in terms of our day-to-day operations. The Naval Academy team was able to offer a lot of suggestions, especially when it came to the windows in one of our academic buildings that need upgrades.

More than anything, it was inspiring to see the research the students are doing to pave the way for more energy efficient practices. As a student at the Air Force Academy, I’ve had the opportunity to conduct research on green roofs. The hope is to compile data about what the implementation of green roofs could mean in energy and money savings for the Air Force.

Through my experience with SWAP, I’ve learned that students at the Naval Academy are also spearheading energy efficiency research. Their research with the bio digester on their campus is hopefully going to affect how we think about food waste, especially on higher education campuses across the country. Through SWAP, we learned that both academies face the same challenges when it comes to food waste due to the sheer number of people who dine on our campuses every day. Using their bio digester, the Naval Academy can convert food waste into electricity, and compost for local farmers.  

Someday, all of us might have a say in how buildings and institutions incorporate new technologies. Having the opportunity to take part in SWAP gave me a glimpse into the future and showed me the great work students are already doing to lead the way in energy efficiency.