Thermal Energy Management, GEP 473, Fall 2019

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.


  • Homework 30%
  • Classwork 30%
  • Exams 40%

Course Schedule

  • Wed 21 Aug -- Mon 26 Aug - Introduction
  • Wed 28 Aug -- Wed 04 Sep - Thermal Concepts
  • Mon 09 Sep -- Mon 16 Sep - Convection
  • Wed 18 Sep -- Mon 23 Sep - Radiation
  • Wed 25 Sep - Review 1
  • Mon 30 Sep - Midterm 1
  • Wed 02 Oct - Mon 07 Oct - Conduction
  • Wed 09 Oct - No Class (Public Safety Power Shutdown)
  • Wed 16 Oct - Conduction
  • Mon 21 Oct - Wed 23 Oct - Circuits
  • Mon 28 Oct - Wed 30 Oct - No Class (Kincade Fire)
  • Mon 04 Nov - Wed 06 Nov - Thermodynamics
  • Wed 13 Nov - Computation
  • Mon 18 Nov - Wed 20 Nov - No Class (Resilience Conference)
  • Mon 25 Nov - Computation
  • Mon 02 Dec - Review 2
  • Wed 04 Dec - Midterm 2

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 Canvas.

The texts we will draw from are:

Class Norms and Agreements

Late Work

To reinforce habits of consistency and accountability, as a rule late work is not accepted in this class. However, students often have circumstances beyond their control that interfere with their studies. If you believe you have a compelling case for a late assignment, make an office hours appointment with me and I'll consider granting an extension.

Excused Absences

If you miss class due to an unexcused absence, you will receive a zero on that day's classwork grade.

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.

Please use this Excused Absence Form to submit a request for an excused absence.

Question Forum

We will maintain a forum on Canvas where anyone in the class can post questions and answer them. If you have a question that doesn't require privacy, please post it in the forum. This allows everyone to benefit from the question and contribute to a solution.

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.

Basic Needs

Any student who believes their performance in the course may be affected by their access to sufficient food, stable housing, or their citizenship status is encouraged to seek out assistance from Sonoma State. If you are comfortable with it, please notify me as well so I can help direct you to any available resources.