Technology Allows Students to Compete, Track Campus Energy Use

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

The time-honored tradition of collegiate competition is alive and well at Agnes Scott College with the addition of a new technology that allows students to vie for the title “greenest residence hall.”
The college will install touch screen displays in two first-year residence halls, Winship Hall and Walters Hall, which tell students—in real-time—how much electricity their building is using and has used in the past. But more importantly, the displays reveal how much power the building is using compared to a rival residence hall.

“We think competition will be fiercest in the first-year dorms, so we decided to start with screens in those buildings,” said Justine Schwartz, sustainability fellow at Agnes Scott, and a recent grad of the college.

The college is planning to add displays in several other campus buildings over time but chose the first-year residence halls as the best initial sites. The halls are roughly the same size and with the same number of residents, making the two good choices for a fair competition. Competitions need to pit buildings with a similar number of occupants and similar types of power use against each other, Schwartz said.

The data for the displays is generated by the college’s “energy dashboard,” which tracks electricity in seven buildings on campus. Natural gas and water tracking will be added to dashboard in the near future.

Via a website open and accessible to the public, the dashboard compares electricity use from building to building and tracks use over time, both at different times of the day and over a day, week, month or year.

The college is planning a series of official competitions using the dashboard. The first competition will pit Alston Campus Center against Buttrick Hall and the Bullock Science Center for greenest building, starting Feb. 16 until Feb. 23. Walters will compete against Winship from Feb. 23 until March 2.

The dashboard also allows users to compare how many of a completely different unit —everything from hamburgers and laptops to dollars and carbon units—are represented by the electricity being consumed daily by each building. For instance, the 854 kilowatt hours of electricity used by the college’s campus center on a given day would power a 35-watt laptop for 24,411 hours or fuel a 1,076-mile trip in a 29-mile-per-gallon car.

To explore Agnes Scott’s energy dashboard, go to:

The energy dashboard project is supported by a grant from the Jessie Ball duPont Fund.

Agnes Scott College educates women to think deeply, live honorably and engage the intellectual and social challenges of their times. Students are drawn to Agnes Scott by its excellent academic reputation, exceptional faculty and metropolitan Atlanta location—offering myriad social, cultural and experiential learning opportunities. This highly selective liberal arts college is known for its diverse and dynamic intellectual community. Through SUMMIT, it provides every student, regardless of major, with an individualized course of study and co-curricular experiences that develop leadership abilities and understanding of complex global dynamics.