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Building dashboard site shows energy use in six Colgate residence halls

By Contributing Writer on November 8, 2012
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Ever wonder how much energy students use in the residence halls? Wonder no more. Colgate’s new Building Dashboard®, adopted last month as part of its Sustainability and Climate Action Plan, accounts for everything they do, from microwaving midnight snacks, to showering, to frequent laptop use.

Visitors to the site can see up-to-the-minute energy use (electricity, water, or heat energy) in six Colgate residences. They can also view energy use for each building as a whole, per person, or per square foot. Next year, Colgate plans to add additional residences to the Building Dashboard® site, which also features energy tips, and a “commit to conserve” link whereby students can pledge to reduce their energy use.

John Pumilio Colgate’s director of sustainability, sees Building Dashboard® not only as an educational tool, but also a means to help Colgate students practice better resource conservation and efficiency.

“Peer-to-peer education is most effective in getting students to change their consumption patterns,” said Pumilio. “And healthy competition doesn’t hurt.”

Jenna Taylor ’13 is working with seven other Green Raiders or Eco-Reps who coordinate energy use and water consumption with students in the first-year dorms. In conjunction with the energy-saving goals of the Building Dashboard® program, these Eco-Reps have sponsored light bulb exchanges, whereby freshmen trade in incandescent bulbs for energy–efficient CFL bulbs, and a water conservation information table at the Coop.

“We had a visual display,” she said. “Using five-gallon water jugs, we could show  how much water is used in a five-minute versus a 15-minute shower.”

Pumilio hopes to inspire competition between the residences. “For example, during the Oct. 7- Nov.7, we know that on a per-person basis, Stillman residents used the least electricity, while Drake residents used the least water.”

“This is a competitive university,” Pumilio said. “We can capitalize on that spirit.”

Colgate also competes with other colleges across the country. During the 2013 Campus Conservation Nationals, Pumilio said there can be a 20 to 30 percent reduction of energy use. “Afterward, there is still reduced energy use, though not quite as much.”

From Feb. 11 to Mar. 4, 2013, Colgate will take the “Negawatt Challenge” — competing against Hobart & William Smith, St. Lawrence, Hamilton, Union, and Skidmore Colleges — to see which campus can reduce its energy consumption most.

Story contributed by Alicia Klepeis

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