Thermal Energy Management, GEP 473, Fall 2017

Instructor Daniel Soto
Office Stevenson 3016E
Meeting Time M/W 2:00 -- 3:50 pm
Classroom Environmental Technology Center (ETC)
Units 4

Office Hours

Signup is online and can be accessed through my website at

Course Catalog Description

An introduction to energy management in residential and commercial buildings, focusing on space heating and cooling, and hot water. Fundamentals of heat transfer, thermal properties of building materials, building load calculations, and energy economics. Prerequisites: MATH 160, MATH 161, or ENSP 202; and PHYS 114 or PHYS 210A or equivalent.

Learning Objectives

This course will teach you the basics of how energy is used to add or remove heat from a system. Based on these fundamentals, you will understand how our systems of heating and cooling homes affects our environment. You will gain skills in making defensible estimates of the energy use for thermal energy services like water heating and space cooling.

By the end of this course you will understand the basic physics of heat transfer and thermodynamics. With this understanding, you will be able to estimate how much energy will be used by heating processes and how much energy can be saved by new techniques. You will also be able to communicate these calculations to others. You will be able to make clear claims and support them with evidence and calculations.

To gain these abilities, you will complete exercises in computation, as well as exercises where you explain your computations. You will also practice summarizing arguments and making arguments against your own position. The assignments in this class are structured to give you practice in these skills.

Course Requirements

Your course grade will be drawn from various assignments. These include homework assignments, work in class, quizzes, exams, and outside projects. Each of these are explained in more detail below.


By completing the homework regularly, you will develop skills necessary to take a question and get estimate for the answer. You will also develop your ability to communicate and explain these estimates in writing. Your problem sets will be graded on the clarity of communication as much as the correctness of the result.

You are encouraged to work in teams and discuss the strategies and even numerical answers you are getting. You are strongly discouraged from looking at other students completed assignments. If you look at your classmates completed work, you are denying yourself the opportunity to construct the solution on you own and will prevent you from developing your skills.

Classroom Work and Quizzes

By participating in classroom work regularly, you will gain skills you need to collaborate with others on problem solving. You will take quizzes in class in groups where everyone receives the same grade. This is designed to help you collaborate and communicate your ideas so that everyone in the group agrees. You will get multiple attempts on each question. Each incorrect answer will receive a grade deduction. Someone in each group will need access to a smartphone or laptop since part of the quiz will be on Moodle. If you have an unexcused absence on the day of work, you will not receive credit for that day's assignment. Quizzes will be in class and will often be unannounced.


By completing your class project, you will gain skills building a physical prototype, making predictions about its behavior, and explaining this to others. We will be building devices where we practice what we've learned in this class. You will be expected to purchase a few materials (foam, tape, wood) for this. Please see me if this creates a difficulty for you and we can look for a solution.



  • Homework average above 90%
  • Quiz average above 90%
  • Exam average above 90%
  • Project that exceeds expectations


  • Homework average above 80%
  • Quiz average above 80%
  • Exam average above 80%
  • Project that exceeds expectations


  • Homework average above 70%
  • Quiz average above 70%
  • Exam average above 70%
  • Project that meets expectations


  • Homework average above 60%
  • Quiz average above 60%
  • Exam average above 60%
  • Project that meets expectations

Course Schedule

  • Wed 23 Aug - Mon 28 Aug (Class 1 - 2) Introduction and Context
  • Wed 30 Aug - Wed 13 Sep (Class 3 - 6) Heat Transfer and Storage
  • Mon 18 Sep - Mon 25 Sep (Class 7 - 9) Electricity
  • Wed 27 Sep - Mon 02 Oct (Class 10 - 11) Midterm 1
  • Wed 04 Oct (Class 12) Latent Heat
  • Mon 09 Oct - Wed 11 Oct (Class 13 - 14) Thermodynamics
  • Mon 16 Oct (Class 15) Computation
  • Wed 18 Oct - Mon 23 Oct (Class 16 - 17) Quantitative Argument
  • Wed 25 Oct - Wed 01 Nov (Class 18 - 20) Economics Fundamentals
  • Mon 06 Nov - Wed 08 Nov (Class 21 - 22) Energy Metrics
  • Mon 20 Nov - Wed 29 Nov (Class 25 - 27) Carbon Emissions
  • Mon 04 Dec - Wed 06 Dec (Class 28 - 29) Research Questions


  • Wed 06 Sep 2017 - ERG Toolkit 1, Energy Units and Fundamentals of Quantitative Analysis
  • Wed 06 Sep 2017 - Hewlett 14, Temperature, Heat, Expansion
  • Wed 06 Sep 2017 - ENSP 337 Notes, Heat Capacity link
  • Mon 11 Sep 2017 - Hewlett 15, Heat Transfer
  • Mon 11 Sep 2017 - Pohl 4, Heat Flow and Thermal Insulation
  • Mon 11 Sep 2017 - ENSP 337 Notes, Thermal Conduction link
  • Wed 13 Sep 2017 - Masters EFS 6, Energy Efficiency for Buildings
  • Wed 20 Sep 2017 - REEPS Ch. 2, Basic Circuits link
  • Wed 04 Oct 2017 - Hewlett 16, Change of State link
  • Mon 09 Oct 2017 - Hewlett 17, Thermodynamics link
  • Mon 09 Oct 2017 - ENSP 337 Notes, Thermodynamics link
  • Wed 25 Oct 2017 - ENSP 337 Notes, Computation link
  • Wed 25 Oct 2017 - ENSP 337 Notes, Convection link
  • Mon 06 Nov 2017 - Masters EFS 5, Energy Analysis and Life-Cycle Assessment link


  • Mon 18 Sep 2017 (Class 7) - HW 1 Concepts and Units
  • Mon 25 Sep 2017 (Class 9) - HW 2 Heat Transfer
  • Wed 25 Oct 2017 (Class 18) - HW 3 Box UA and latent heat
  • Mon 06 Nov 2017 (Class 21) - HW 4 Ice Cube Slam Mathematical Model
  • Wed 15 Nov 2017 (Class 24) - HW 5 Ice Cube Slam Physical Testing
  • Mon 27 Nov 2017 (Class 26) - HW 6 Ice Cube Model Revisions

Class Text

There is no required text to be purchased for this class. You will read from several texts and the readings will be supplied on Moodle.

The texts we will draw from are:

You will be writing documents that contain both written text and calculations. We will be using a tool called the Jupyter Notebook since it allows you to do this. You will be expected to purchase a one-semester subscription to CoCalc where we can use these notebooks as a class.


Excused Absences

I grant excused absences when I receive a notification before the start of class with a brief and compelling reason for the absence. You do not need to reveal any personal information in your reason. You can find a link for our absence form here.

Respectful tone in classroom

Civility is required from all students during discussions and interactions. In general, I expect students to be supportive of each others learning goals.

Willingness to take risks and experiment

I frequently try new approaches to teaching and learning. These are always with the intention of making this class as beneficial to you as possible.

Minimize electronic distractions

An important skill is self-regulation against distractions. Electronic devices are a potent source of distraction. However, we will not ban their use since they can be productive. We will frequently use Internet-connected electronic devices (phones, tablets) for learning purposes. However, using devices for social networks or other uses during class time is strongly discouraged.

University Policies

There are important University policies that you should be aware of, such as the add/drop policy; cheating and plagiarism policy, grade appeal procedures; accommodations for students with disabilities and the diversity vision statement. Go to this URL to find them.