Howest Alumni crowned Junior Energy Manager of the Year

Yesterday, Senne Vanderplaetse, alumnus of Howest Energy Management, was crowned Junior Energy Manager of the Year. With his bachelor's project concerning the optimisation of the HVAC system at Van Marcke's head office, Senne prevailed over three other finalists. Howest has thus delivered its fourth winner in five editions of this award.

The Junior Energy Manager award is an initiative of Energik (the Flemish association for energy and environmental technology), in collaboration with AP Hogeschool and Howest. The award highlights talented, young managers who come up with sustainable solutions to the energy issues of today and tomorrow. A cash prize of 1,000 euros is offered to the winner.

Optimalisation of Van Marcke HVAC-system

Winner Senne Vanderplaetse graduated from Howest in June of this year with a Bachelor of Energy Management. For his bachelor's thesis, he studied how the heating and cooling system of Van Marcke's head office in Aalbeke could be optimised. To do so, he first mapped out the structure, the control strategy, data from measurements and issues with comfort. This analysis formed the basis of a hydraulic simulation model. For each change in this model, the impact in terms of energy consumption and comfort was determined and then translated into optimisation of the control of the HVAC system. "Senne's bachelor's thesis yielded great results, especially since it involved a new building. 41% less pumping energy and a 13% efficiency increase in heat pumps was good for a total savings of 18%. In concrete terms, our consumption drops by 50 MWh a year, or the consumption of 14 families," says Tom Prinzie, Technical Manager at Van Marcke.

Internship becomes workplace

After his internship and bachelor's thesis, Senne was immediately able to start working at Van Marcke. Stage supervisor Tom Prinzie: "As an HVAC Calculator, he now applies his experience from his internship and thesis to our company's entire building portfolio: more than a hundred shops and offices throughout Belgium. Because Howest's Energy Management training is closely related to actual conditions and combines practical, local experience with the global energy theme, Senne was immediately employable. The cooperation with Howest is therefore a clear win-win for Van Marcke."

Knowledge sharing as basis for award

"I was somewhat surprised when I emerged as the winner last night," said the newest Young Energy Manager of the Year. "While this award may be a personal one, it is equally a crowning achievement for the entire engineering team at Van Marcke. Their knowledge sharing and support, together with Howest's coaching, made my undergraduate thesis a success. The fact that it ultimately earned me this title may have to do with the topical nature of my research and perhaps even more so with the conclusion of my thesis. No one really expected that so much energy could be saved even in a new building. Now I will extend the methodology to Van Marcke's other buildings. They are a lot older on average, so the savings potential there will probably be even greater."