The College’s efforts around sustainability took another leap forward recently with the launch of the new Haverford College Building Dashboard.
This website allows visitors to track real-time electricity usage in 14 buildings around campus which have been fitted with special meters. Included in the group are all of the residence halls, as well as Magill Library, the Dining Center, Whitehead Campus Center, and the Koshland Integrated Natural Sciences Center. (Five additional buildings—Chase, Founders, Gest, Hall, and Stokes—are having the meters installed and will come online soon.)
The Dashboard allows viewers to see how much electricity each of the buildings use on a daily, weekly, and yearly basis. Visitors can also click on photos of the individual buildings to bring up a description, the number of occupants, and see a constantly updated flow chart of electricity usage in the building. In addition, the Dashboard page offers the Haverford College community ideas for saving energy and asks visitors to commit to taking action. Among the ideas: swap out incandescent light bulbs for LEDs, take the stairs instead of the elevator, turn off lights in common areas, or wash clothes in cold water instead of hot.
David Robinson ’14, a member of the College’s Committee on Environmental Responsibility (CER), says he’s thrilled to see the Dashboard come on line. “It’s impossible to substantively reduce energy use, without first knowing how much energy we use,” says Robinson. “In the past, Haverford has participated in a national recycling competition that showed us how much waste we divert to recycling. Whenever we measured recycling rates, and shared the statistics with the student body, recycling rates increased dramatically. I am hopeful that the Building Dashboard will have the same effect.”
It’s all about awareness, says Robinson. “It’s easy to go about your day and not really think about where the heat and electricity for the buildings on campus comes from. The Dashboard makes it very clear, and it will help students be more thoughtful every time they leave on their lights, or plug in their computer over night. While these actions may seem trivial on their own, if every student made these small decisions, we could reduce our carbon footprint and save a lot of money on energy costs.”
Look for an awareness campaign to publicize the Building Dashboard to launch in the fall when classes resume, says Claudia Kent, assistant director of facilities management, sustainability and grounds. Kent, who helps coordinate the work of the students, faculty and staff who sit on the Committee on Environmental Responsibility, envisions posters in individual buildings, highlighting their energy usage and carbon footprint, as well as a series of events and activities, such as a dorm competitions, and energy reduction pledge drives.
Other colleges and universities that have adopted the Building Dashboard program have actively used its energy monitoring capabilities to challenge students to reduce usage, says Kent. Cornell University, for example, stages a “Think Big, Live Green Energy Smackdown Contest.”
“Schools that use the Dashboard and take part in energy consumption challenges drop their energy usage by about 10 percent,” says Kent. “We can really do a lot with this.”