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KUNC is among the founding partners of the Mountain West News Bureau, a collaboration of public media stations that serve the Western states of Colorado, Idaho, Nevada, New Mexico, Utah and Wyoming.

Colorado colleges team up to help manufacturing businesses cut costs and emissions

Engineer man using computer notebook for Checking the electrical system Of the machine in the industrial factory, to engineering and industry concept.
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The Colorado School of Mines and Red Rocks Community College are offering the energy assessments through the Rocky Mountain Industrial Assessment Center, which was funded last year as part of a $60 million grant from the U.S. Department of Energy.

Two colleges in Colorado are partnering up to offer free energy efficiency assessments to manufacturing businesses in the state — and eventually in other parts of the Mountain West — to help them cut costs and lower emissions.

The Colorado School of Mines and Red Rocks Community College are offering the energy assessments through the Rocky Mountain Industrial Assessment Center, which was funded last year as part of a $60 million grant from the U.S. Department of Energy. The center supports paid internships for students to gain experience in helping builders and manufacturers become more energy efficient.

Tim Ohno, the director of the Rocky Mountain Industrial Assessment Center, said the free energy audits could be a major financial help to these small and medium-sized businesses, which often don't have the resources for such assessments.

“Normally, when you have an energy audit done, it's in the fews of thousands to tens of thousands of dollars,” Ohno said. “But it's all covered by the Department of Energy. It's a way that the manufacturer gets a free assessment, DOE gets an improvement in buildings that otherwise wouldn't have happened, and we train students.”

The DOE funds 37 university-based Industrial Assessment Centers around the country, and the Rocky Mountain IAC is one of only three in the region.

Department of Energy Industrial Assessment Center Map 2022.jpg
Courtesy of DOE Industrial Assessment Center Program
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The DOE funds 37 university-based Industrial Assessment Centers around the country, and the Rocky Mountain IAC is one of only three in the region.

“The next nearest IACs are Arizona State and University of Utah,” Ohno said. “So in terms of the Rocky Mountain range, it's really the three of us as we move up and down. So ultimately, we'll be looking at providing services for Wyoming and possibly Montana in the future.”

Manufacturing businesses in Wyoming and New Mexico are also currently eligible, but it could take time before the Colorado School of Mines and Red Rocks Community College have the resources to make a trip out there.

Nationally, the program has saved businesses more than $900 million in energy costs, according to IAC estimates. Ohno hopes the new partnership in Colorado can add to that tally.

This story was produced by the Mountain West News Bureau, a collaboration between Wyoming Public Media, Nevada Public Radio, Boise State Public Radio in Idaho, KUNR in Nevada, the O'Connor Center for the Rocky Mountain West in Montana, KUNC in Colorado, KUNM in New Mexico, with support from affiliate stations across the region. Funding for the Mountain West News Bureau is provided in part by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting.

I'm the Mountain West Reporter for KUNC, here to inform you of all the latest news affecting the Mountain West region. From new legislation to climate patterns to invasive species, I'll research what is happening in your backyard—as well as the backyards of neighboring states—and share those stories with you as you go about your day.