Student researchers to present findings on alternative power sources for St. Joseph hospital today

Matthew Anderson
Western Today staff

A Sustainable Solutions Research Team of students working with the Northwest Higher Education Sustainability Consortium will present its research on alternative power sources for St. Joseph PeaceHealth Medical Center at 1 p.m. Tuesday, Nov. 30, in Old Main Room 340 on the Western Washington University campus.

The consortium, which includes members from WWU, Whatcom Community College, Bellingham Technical College and the Northwest Indian College, was formed to promote sustainability on campuses, in the community of Whatcom County and in the northwest region of Washington state.

The student members of the research team were tasked by partner St. Joseph PeaceHealth Medical Center to analyze three potential alternatives of distributed power sources for the hospital: solar panels, a fuel-cell array and a combined heat-and-power system. Considerations included high efficiency, local production and low carbon footprint.

The students, working in the consortium's internship program, spent spring and summer quarters working on the research project. They are Erika Rednizak, a WWU junior and self-design major through Huxley College of the Environment; Richard Bruno, a WCC two-year-degree student and future WWU transfer student; and Sheila McElhinney, a BTC civil engineering student and former energy conservation staff member for Puget Sound Energy.

The consortium hopes that this pilot project will serve as a model of future student and faculty team work and community partnership in working toward sustainable solutions to common problems.