Green Heat: Kettering earns grant from Ford Motor Company Fund
A grant from the Ford Fund is helping Kettering students install a geothermal heating system at this Flint hoop house.
Kettering University stepped up to the “challenge,” the Ford Motor Company Fund’s 2010 Ford College Community Challenge (Ford C3) that is, and won a $50,000 grant to perform an energy audit and develop a solar/geo-thermal system for an urban gardening greenhouse project in Flint, Mich.
Dr. Matthew Sanders’ senior Industrial Engineering capstone class worked with Harvesting Earth Educational Farms, part of the non-profit Youth Karate-Ka, to develop a practical and cost effective method for using renewable energy resources for the Farm’s greenhouse, located in one of the poorest communities in the Flint area. Harvesting Earth Educational Farm teaches local residents horticulture and commercial food production skills.
Sanders, professor of Industrial and Manufacturing Engineering, sits on the Genesee County Metro Planning Commission-Solid Waste Implementation Committee with Jackie King, founder and co-director of Karate-Ka and Harvesting Earth Educational Farm. King approached Sanders about possible solutions to the problem of utilizing the greenhouse during cold weather months. The Ford C3 grant will make it all possible.
“I saw this as an opportunity for our students to apply their engineering education to develop a solution to a real world problem,” Sanders said.
The Kettering students’ goal was to reduce the energy needs of the Harvesting Earth greenhouse, to save money and reduce the potential for negative impact on the environment while enabling the greenhouse to be used from November through March.
An extended growing season will provide a source of sustainable employment to the residents of the surrounding, financially depressed community, said King, adding that, “Our garden has changed the community. We are harvesting the sun, the earth, the wind and our future.”
The Kettering students determined that a geothermal heat pump system-hybrid with solar panels was the answer to extending the greenhouse’s growing season, because it offered a low capital investment and provided for easy installation and easy expansion of facilities. Installation and testing will take place by April 2011.
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