USE Efficiency

20 November 2012
Students at the USE Efficiency London Summer School

From Learning Legacy to tomorrow’s engineers: the project turning students into the future champions of energy efficiency.

Over the summer, students from 20 countries attended a summer school in London with companies that helped build the Olympic Park. During these sessions they learnt about the very latest in sustainability and energy efficiency at the heart of the Games.

The Universities and Students for Energy Efficiency (USE EFF) Summer School, was held in partnership with the IET and the Italian Ministry for the Environment. As part of the programme, students developed their own projects focusing on the energy performance of sports facilities, sustainable design and building processes, presenting their work at the Institute of Materials, Minerals and Mining in central London.

Commenting on the event, then IET president Dr Mike Short said: “Nurturing and supporting tomorrow’s engineers is a fundamental passion of the IET and we are proud to be the primary partner for the USE Efficiency summer school. This partnership was born out of our relationship with the Olympic Delivery Authority’s (ODA) Learning Legacy programme and sees the IET underpinning the industrial material for these students during the summer school. This will reinforce the early stages of their career once they leave university, equipping them for a solid start in engineering. We have been delighted with the student response to the IET’s contribution and look forward to watching their progress.”


The original project ran from June 2009 to January 2012 and was funded by Intelligent Energy Europe (IEE), an EU commission programme managed by the Executive Agency for Competitiveness & Innovation (EACI), and deals with energy saving and renewables issues from an educational point of view, rather than a research and application one.

The framework for the progamme was coordinated by Professor Angelo Spena of the University of Tor Vergata in Rome. Involving universities, enterprises and institutions from across Europe working together to improve student education, it aimed to spread an understanding of the methodologies and technologies relating to energy efficiency action.

Out of this, the USE Efficiency project was created and written by the Rome-based consultancy EnerGia-Da in 2008. Led by Dr Daniela Melandri, president of the USE Efficiency Association, the project solely comprised young people, all under 25, a feature which provided the project with its winning factor and making it such a unique initiative - a project for students, created by students.

The USE Efficiency project has involved ten EU countries, including nine universities and four major companies, and focused on the improvement of energy efficiency in university buildings, together with the establishment of training programmes for university students.

The programme set out to train students as future leaders in energy efficiency, from the first stages of their technical development. It also aimed to increase cross-border knowledge about Energy Performance Assessment (EPA) methodologies and tools, and promote past EU projects at the technical, professional and student level. Commenting on the programme, EACI project officer Pau Garcia-Audi said: “The training of university administrations and students in energy efficiency is regarded as a shining example both for energy efficiency solutions and for energy efficiency behaviour”.


The project was extraordinary, taking on a life of its own beyond initial expectations. During the final event organised in Budapest, when the project was formally meant to end, it was publically announced that the project would continue, becoming even more ambitious. The USE Efficiency partners were tasked with two new challenges: a 2012 London summer school during the Olympics; and secondly, a new submission with an even bigger consortium to the IEE programme.

Tasked with organising a new summer school, without EU funding, to be held in London during the 2012 Olympics, Dr Daniela Melandri approached Steve Wilkinson, managing director of communications company Rockhound and head of the Guardian newspaper’s Newton Channel, providing films exploring cutting-edge science. The Newton Channel was subsequently named official media partner for the USE Efficiency London summer school, also becoming the official partner of wider USE Efficiency Association activities.

With plans taking shape, the IET’s head of the Built Environment Sector, Bruce McLelland, coordinated the IET’s interaction with the project. Commenting on the collaboration, Daniela said: “The partnership between USE Efficiency and the IET has facilitated the interaction between young people and leading market players, allowing them to enhance the skills and expertise required in energy efficiency and the use of renewables.”

The core of USE Efficiency has been the organisation of the international summer schools training programme, explains Daniela: “First in Valencia in 2011, under the Intelligent Energy Europe (IEE) frame, and then the summer school in London during the Olympics in 2012. Both events were a great success, providing important employment opportunities for students and giving market leaders the possibility of gathering fresh ideas together with some highly-skilled CVs from the summer school students.”

USE Efficiency today is not just a project, but has evolved into a formal, consolidated, non-profit professional organisation - the USE Efficiency Association - aiming to continue the good work initiated under the EU programme. As Daniela adds: “The Association provides a link between universities and organisations. It’s a win-win situation for both sides, who can benefit from the results of the projects and the communication that the involvement guarantees.”


During the Olympic Games in London the USE Efficiency Association worked in close partnership with the IET, the Italian Ministry of Environment, the Guardian Newton Channel and the Olympic Delivery Authority.
Further support came from a number of major construction firms involved in building and delivering the Olympic games who, thanks to the IET collaboration, also participated through the sharing of their experience and providing case studies to students.
On the basis of these presentations and external visits, at the end of the summer school, students presented their concept ideas for sports facilities in different parts of the world. These projects were delivered at the school’s final event held at the Institute of Materials, Minerals and Mining in central London. The presentations were impressive considering the short timescales involved. The event was also a major success from a networking and social aspect, with students collaborating from universities across Europe.
Student delegate Panos Kanellopoulos has attended two USE Efficiency summer schools and describes his experiences: “The summer school in London was a different challenge. The Olympic Games had just begun and this time our goal was to design an energy efficient stadium facility for the 2016 Olympics. To achieve that we attended a very interesting series of lectures focusing on sustainability, legacy and implementation procedures. We even had the chance to see how the London Olympics’ facilities were designed and constructed. Everyone had something to learn and something to teach. Team work once again was the cohesive force.”
Commenting on the success of the London summer school, Dr Daniela Melandri, said: “This provided a tremendous opportunity for students across the world to come together, to work with professional experts, to bring a fresh point of view in the professional debate to improve energy performances in the building sector.”
Looking to the future, Steve Wilkinson added: “The ambition of the Newton Channel is to encourage young engineers and architects to share ideas and to be inspired by real-life case studies. Working with USE Efficiency and the IET during the London 2012 summer school was an amazing experience, giving us the opportunity to capture both the enthusiasm and inspiration of students who will be the future champions of energy efficiency.”


Following the success of the 2012 Summer School, the IET and the USE Efficiency Association will be holding a free open networking event on Monday 10 December at IET London: Savoy Place.
Undergraduate students from across Europe will present their research programmes and discuss best practice when working with industrial partners. Live case study challenges will be presented to the audience for an open discussion as well as poster sessions for papers for a future IET special interest publication.
In addition, the audience will be invited to a Q&A session on the planned Savoy Place upgrade project where the topic of energy efficiency will be discussed with the project team. It will also provide an opportunity for industrial practitioners to explore partnerships with the USE Efficiency Association for 2013.
To reserve seats, contact Bruce McLelland, head of IET Built Environment Sector (bmclelland@theiet.org) by the 30 November 2012.

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