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Chapter Spotlight, May 2019

ASHRAE Chapter to Increase Light, Home Ventilation Comfort through Outreach Project

From eSociety, May 2019

ASHRAE’s Southern Nevada Chapter is helping communities abroad and at home through its Light the World Project.

The chapter is planning to install light and ventilation kits into homes this summer in rural Guatemala in addition to hosting a design competition in a Las Vegas elementary school while promoting science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) education and careers.

According to Lance Banks, Associate Member ASHRAE, president of the ASHRAE Southern Nevada Chapter, electricity is too expensive or not yet available to some people who live in the villages outside of Quetzaltenango, Guatemala, which is about 200 km west of Guatemala City.

An example of the solar home kits the chapter is planning to install

The chapter has solar home kits that provide LED lights, battery packs, electrical charging stations and ceiling fans, which they plan to install in about 20 homes this late June. The kits will provide light and home ventilation comfort while having a minimal environmental impact and improving quality of life.

“We will be installing the kits in the homes of people who do not have access to the electrical grid. Families with young children will take priority,” Banks said.

Ryan Calahan, Member ASHRAE, a member of the chapter’s Board of Governors; Soren Peterson, Member ASHRAE, the chapter treasurer; Amber Aguilar, Associate Member ASHRAE, the chapter’s administrator; Kevin Gutman, Associate Member ASHRAE; and Banks are the ASHRAE members planning to go to Guatemala. A few people who work in MEP firms are joining the ASHRAE members on the trip.

They are also planning to install a stove designed by Kishor Khankari, Ph.D., Fellow ASHRAE. The stove generates charcoal that can be reused, Banks said.  

“It is our hope the charcoal will create a cottage industry for cleaner food preparation, possible resale of the coal and also provide charcoal material for homemade water filtration,” Banks said.

STEM Outreach

The Southern Nevada chapter partnered with a Las Vegas elementary school, sponsored a design competition for kindergarten students and presented a lecture promoting STEM education and careers.

During the design competition, the chapter tasked the students with designing a light diffuser for the light bulb to affix to the interior of the home. Banks said some students tried to design conical structures to fit around the bulbs. Other students attempted to design collapsible diffusers.  

“The kids had a blast. They really did try, and by the end of the day, they were all very excited about engineering and problem-solving through technology,” said Banks.

Banks even enlisted U.S. Senator Catherine Cortez Masto’s help with bureaucratic challenges. Banks also thanked Khankari and ASHRAE Region X for its support of the project, including Region X Director and Region Chair Marites Calad, Member ASHRAE; Student Activities Regional Vice Chair Buzz Wright, Member ASHRAE; and Research Promotion Regional Vice Chair Heather Schopplein, Member ASHRAE, for their support.

“The project is important to ASHRAE of Southern Nevada because it has been our opportunity to not only get the newer generations interested in the broad spectrum of STEM but also gain knowledge of our industry,” said Banks.

If interested in helping the Southern Nevada Chapter’s Light the World project, contact Lance Banks.