Clark University partners with National Grid on Sustainability Hub in Main South

Clark students will help area residents assess their energy use
October 18, 2013

On Friday, Oct. 18, Clark University and National Grid celebrated the grand opening for the National Grid Sustainability Hub, a 2,200 square-foot facility at 912 Main Street that offers innovative energy solutions through hands-on demonstrations of "smart" meters, interactive displays on smart grid technologies and tips for how consumers can manage and reduce energy use.

"The Sustainability Hub is opening at a time when Clark, through our LEEP Initiative, is looking to provide our students with unique opportunities to work in real-world organizations to help them gain experience. We're eager to learn about these emerging technologies and to share knowledge of energy-saving techniques with our neighbors," said President David P. Angel.

"Clark also has a team of dedicated faculty members who have already begun assessing the costs, benefits and risks of various dimensions of smart grid technologies."

Representatives from Clark and National Grid were joined by Congressman James McGovern, Massachusetts Secretary of Energy Richard Sullivan, and city officials for the opening, which was preceded by tours and a two-minute time-lapse slideshow of the renovations. The Hub plays a vital role in the program; its central location will provide education about new energy-saving technologies.

Click here to see more Sustainability Hub photos.

McGovern lauded the partnership between National Grid, Clark University, the state, and other private entities to launch the Hub.

"This project will instantaneously transform this corner of Main South into a national model of sustainability and energy education," McGovern said. "It was a joy to be brought through this new facility and be educated by the students of Clark University."

'I love this collaboration. We all talk about global warming and being good to the planet. It begins with things like this.'

Rep. James McGovern

Six Clark students will serve as Smart Energy Ambassadors at the Hub; they have undergone intensive training, from electricity basics, energy efficiency strategies, smart grid system enhancements, and implementing emerging technologies in homes. They will be the key liaisons working with customers, leading tours of the facility, presenting in the community, educating in schools, and advocating through social media.

Clark's Ambassadors include Jill Ceplinskas '14, Melissa Skubel '13-M.S. '14 (ES&P), Brittney Pietro '14, Chong Lin '14, Kelly Lamond '14 and Jai Sung Lee '14.

Skubel told the audience at Friday's opening that her experience working at the Sustainability Hub is giving her the rare opportunity to work at a job about which she's passionate, and which makes a difference in the world.

"After only a few short months I have found that I am passionate about educating people," Skubel said. "I found meaning creating conversations with Clarkies and the local community about energy and working toward a more sustainable future through education and energy conservation." She said she's accruing the necessary experience to begin forging a career in the energy field.

Jennie Stephens, associate professor of Environmental Science & Policy, said that the Sustainability Hub is "a unique innovation designed to provide a place for community engagement on energy and sustainability issues."

"Not only will the Sustainability Hub provide a place for Worcester residents to learn about how they can benefit and save money as changes are made in how electricity is being generated and managed, the venue has potential to become a community resource for sustainability-related education, training, and green jobs."

In addition to National Grid's energy-related demonstrations, community exhibitors are welcome to submit other sustainability related materials to be presented to the Green2Growth Council for approval prior to exhibition in the Sustainability Hub.

The Sustainability Hub includes a plaque to the late Joseph F. "Chip" Mannarino '79, who passed away in July. Mannarino spent his career in energy conservation and served as a senior technical consultant for National Grid for 26 years; he was married to Karen T. (Luke) Mannarino '78. Their daughter Heather is a member of Clark's Class of 2017.

In 2012, National Grid announced plans to include 15,000 participating customers in its Smart Energy Solutions Program, formerly known as the smart grid pilot. The Program will officially start during 2014. The Smart Energy Solutions Program hopes to demonstrate that customers will save 5 percent of their energy use by providing customers near real-time energy usage information and advanced control technologies, a sustainable option to save energy, reduce, costs and reduce carbon footprint of the community. In addition, the program aspires to improve long term electric service reliability and outage response.

National Grid delivers electricity to approximately 3.3 million customers in Massachusetts, New York and Rhode Island. It manages the electricity network on Long Island under an agreement with the Long Island Power Authority (LIPA), and owns over 4,000 megawatts of contracted electricity generation, providing power to over one million LIPA customers. It is the largest distributor of natural gas in northeastern U.S., serving approximately 3.4 million customers in New York, Massachusetts, and Rhode Island.

Founded in 1887 in Worcester, Massachusetts, Clark University is a small, liberal arts-based research university addressing social and human imperatives on a global scale. Nationally renowned as a college that changes lives, Clark is emerging as a transformative force in higher education today. LEEP (Liberal Education and Effective Practice) is Clark's pioneering model of education that combines a robust liberal arts curriculum with life-changing world and workplace experiences. Clark's faculty and students work across boundaries to develop solutions to complex challenges in the natural sciences, psychology, geography, management, urban education, Holocaust and genocide studies, environmental studies, and international development and social change. The Clark educational experience embodies the University's motto: Challenge convention. Change our world.