New ‘Building Dashboard’ helps track energy use

Counting kilowatt-hours and gallons of water used on campus has just gotten easier with Wake Forest’s adoption of the new Building Dashboard.  Now, everyone on campus can help monitor energy use and see the impact of energy reduction efforts.

The dashboard tracks real-time energy use in 39 buildings across campus and is designed to engage the campus community in conserving energy.  Created by Lucid Design group, the tool gives users the ability to monitor water usage, kilowatt usage and carbon dioxide emissions, as well as energy costs.

“Using their laptops, viewers can see how much energy is used at any time in buildings on campus,” said Ravish Paul, the energy manager in the university’s Energy Management Office who has worked to implement the dashboard at Wake Forest.   “This tool is part of our commitment to sustainability and will help the campus community reduce consumption and our carbon footprint. Our goal is to encourage students, staff and professors to look at the dashboard, understand and compare their building’s energy consumption and make a commitment to conserving.”

Energy Competition

  • From March 30 to April 20 residents of six freshman residence halls (Bostwick, Johnson, Luter, Collins, South, and Babcock) will use the dashboard to compete in the Campus Conservation Nationals 2012, a nationwide electricity and water use reduction competition among more than 150 colleges and universities around the country. The goal is to collectively save one gigawatt-hour. The winner of the Wake Forest competition will be announced in April during Earth Week. Follow the team’s progress beginning March 30.

Colorful interactive graphs bring energy usage statistics to life.  Data is fed into the system every minute, so members of the campus community can check the energy usage at any time of day and compare hour-by-hour statistics for Wake Forest and for other colleges and universities participating in the competition who use the dashboard.  The system also reveals how much energy is being used for heating and cooling and how much solar energy is being captured by South Residence Hall and The Barn, the two campus buildings with solar equipment.

Paul encourages people to click on the “commit to conserve” widget available on the dashboard home page that asks users to make specific changes, like using a desktop lamp instead of an overhead light or using a power strip to completely shut off power to unused computers.  The app can be linked to a Facebook account, allowing users to challenge their friends or encourage them to join the effort.

Energy conservation is not a one-time action, Paul says. “It is a consistent behavioral change.  As people become more aware, their voices will be heard wherever they go. When students get jobs, they will convince their companies to reduce energy.  This needs collective understanding and collective effort.”

The dashboard is not only a tool for saving energy, but is also a tool for learning.  Paul is encouraging professors to incorporate the dashboard in their classes.

“We want members of the campus community to spend a few minutes using the dashboard and then share this information with others.   Give us ideas to improve it as we look forward to positively affecting our environment,” he says.

Categories: For Alumni, For Parents, Sustainability, Top Stories