Smith College Admission Academics Student Life About Smith news Offices
News Release Bookmark and Share

October 24, 2011

Eye On Energy at Smith College

With new software, energy and water use in Smith buildings is on display.

NORTHAMPTON, Mass. -- Smith College recently unveiled an interactive technology that enables students, faculty and alumnae to view, from any computer, the level of energy and water use in campus houses and buildings.

Building Dashboard® is a software product of Lucid Design Group, which was launched by two Oberlin College graduates in an effort to promote energy conservation. The dashboard program is equipped with simple graphs and charts so users can easily follow energy- and water-usage trends in buildings, comparing use among different buildings and seeing direct results of behavior change.


“In order to get students engaged, you need an interactive system,” said Deirdre Manning, director of the Office of Environmental Sustainability, which is leading the software implementation. “The dashboard is a device for unifying and uniting the Smith community, whether members are on campus or not.”

Two years ago, Facilities Management began installing in campus buildings the meters from which the software pulls its information. Early buildings included Ford Hall, the Campus Center, and six residential houses on Green Street and in center campus. With the additional metering of the houses in the Quad by spring 2012, two-thirds of student residences will be on the dashboard.

Because the Building Dashboard® is online, members of the Smith community will be able to access the information from anywhere in the world. A touch-screen monitor, a gift of the Class of 1961, is was recently installed in the Campus Center to spotlight the dashboard. That class also funded the metering of the Campus Center.

According to Manning, 40 percent of residential electrical use is discretionary, which means that behavior has a significant impact on usage levels. She hopes that students will take part in the competitive aspect of the house information, integrating Smith’s unique sense of house community into energy reduction efforts.

In order to personalize the dashboard, Jenna Zukswert ’13 wrote descriptions for each house that include such information as famous alumnae residents and former house convocation themes. “The dashboard reflects the actions of the people who live and work in the buildings. Since this tool is for the people, we wanted the dashboard to reflect the people,” said Zukswert.

In addition to students using the information to regulate their use, Manning hopes faculty will also tap the database for class projects. Data can be downloaded into Excel files allowing anyone to look at information across time and location, she said.

Smith joins other leading educational institutions in implementing Building Dashboards®, including Princeton, Brown, Stanford, Yale and Harvard universities, and Hamilton, Bowdoin and Middlebury colleges.


Office of College Relations
Smith College
Garrison Hall
Northampton, Massachusetts 01063

Kristen Cole
Media Relations Director
T (413) 585-2190

Current News &

News Release

DirectoryCalendarCampus MapVirtual TourContact UsSite A-Z