By Madalene Smith
Brent Summerville, practitioner-in-residence in the Department of Sustainable Technology and the Built Environment, has recently secured a contract with the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL). The contract ensures the university’s continued role as North Carolina’s Wind Application Center and a key participant in the U.S Department of Energy’s Wind for Schools program.
The Wind for Schools program appoints Wind Application Centers at universities throughout the country, which in turn install and maintain turbines at local elementary and secondary schools. Currently, 12 states are participating in the program.
Summerville and his graduate assistant, Robb O’Brien, are responsible for the acquisition of the contract and the technical support and maintenance for the 12 turbines across the state. This year, they are installing a wireless communication system along with a microcomputer that uploads real-time wind turbine data to the Wind for Schools portal.
“This contract shows that we are leaders in wind energy and the go-to source for wind energy information in North Carolina,” said Summerville. “We can help schools and community members pursue clean wind energy projects and help advance deployment of this technology on all scales.”
Summerville also oversees the university’s Small Wind Turbine Research and Demonstration site at Beech Mountain, where students get hands-on experience with the latest technology. The department’s own turbine at the site currently produces more energy than the other 145+ turbines participating in the Wind for Schools program.
About the Department of Sustainable Technology and the Built Environment
One of seven departments housed in the College of Fine and Applied Arts, the Department of Sustainable Technology and the Built Environment at Appalachian State University features an integrated array of programs spanning the fields of sustainable design and technology. Its mission is to foster a strong and vibrant culture of inquiry, discovery and innovation that integrates theory with application, problem seeking with problem-solving, local issues with global perspectives and technological progress with environmental stewardship. It offers bachelor’s degrees in sustainable technology and building science, and a master’s degree in technology.