Eye On Energy at Smith College
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.