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Strategic Partnerships

West Virginia University at Parkersburg’s Strategic Partnerships Serves Most Economically Distressed Counties in the Nation

West Virginia University at Parkersburg (WVU-P) has forged partnerships over many years to serve some of the most economically distressed counties in the nation. The college’s approach to green is founded on jobs and cost savings for community members. In 2009, WVU-P became a charter member of the Community College Alliance for Sustainability, a network formed to devise green economic and workforce strategies in central Appalachia and the Mississippi Delta regions. The alliance has helped solidify a host of campus sustainability activities including reductions in the institution’s carbon footprint, a recycling program, an EPA Brownfields Cleanup project, and implementation of energy and agriculture programs.

“The partnerships that have been established to promote energy efficiency are vital to our community.”
- Rhonda Tracy, senior vice president of academic affairs
An important partnership emerged with the Wood County school system in which WVU-P’s commercial energy audit students conducted an energy audit of a school building as part of a required internship. Built in the 1940s, the school has had no major heating, cooling or window upgrades. As part of the coursework, students assumed the role of energy engineers and technicians for a startup company acquiring a new client in the Wood County School Board. The students collected and analyzed the school’s energy usage data and presented final recommendations to the Wood County schools maintenance department.

WVU-P is also collaborating with the Wood County Commission, the local homebuilders association, and several regional lending agencies in the Energy Efficiency Upgrades partnership. The college’s weatherization and residential energy audit students are studying area homeowners’ attitudes toward energy efficiency upgrades and performing comprehensive energy audits in targeted neighborhoods. A unique feature of this project is the participation of the college’s communications program students, who serve as “professional communications consultants” working with weatherization students to hone their presentation skills as they go door-to-door to conduct energy efficiency surveys.

Four Interrelated Energy Programs
The college’s programs in Residential and Commercial Electricity; Heating, Ventilation, Air Conditioning and Refrigeration; Energy Assessment and Management Technology; and Solar Energy Technology share a series of common foundational energy technology classes designed to enable students to get college-level and industrial certifications in a number of related fields, broaden their exposure, and provide diverse opportunities for employment after college.
Dr. Rhonda Tracy, WVU-P senior vice president of academic affairs, noted the importance of strategic partnerships: “The partnerships that have been established among our students, our faculty, and area businesses to promote energy efficiency are important and vital to our community. The real-world, hands-on experience gained by our students will better prepare them for the workforce, and the services provided to the community by the students will enhance the community’s understanding of energy efficiency concepts while improving the bottom line of their energy operations.”

WVU-P’s industry partnerships are also critical to its efforts to reduce its own campus greenhouse gases. Its performance contracting partnership with Siemens Corporation has helped achieve $400,000 in utility savings per year.
This resource made possible with the generous support from the Kresge Foundation