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Building Dashboard Shows College's Energy Use in Real Time

By Mike Debraggio  |  Contact Frank Marsicane (315) 859-4500
Posted August 28, 2008
Tags Sustainability
Hamilton College students and employees have a new tool to reduce their carbon footprint. 

The College has teamed with Lucid Design Group of Oakland, Calif., to develop an interactive Web site that displays energy usage for buildings in real-time. The system also stores data so that, over time, energy-use comparisons can be made to previous days, months and years. 

The system uses sensors installed in 13 buildings throughout campus, including seven residence halls, to collect energy data that is then sent to a central server, processed and displayed on the college's Building Dashboard® Web site. All of those buildings show the amount of electricity being consumed in kilowatt hours, but the sensors in the Science Center also display the amount of water and natural gas being used in that facility. 

A special feature of the system allows users of the Web site to convert the electricity being consumed into equivalencies for other units of measure, such as dollars spent, gallons of gasoline consumed, miles driven in a hybrid vehicle and pounds of carbon dioxide emitted into the atmosphere. 

Additional buildings will be added to the system including, in the near future, the recently expanded Kirner-Johnson Building and the Outdoor Leadership Center, both of which are being outfitted with solar panel arrays. The Building Dashboard will be configured to display both the amount of energy being used in those facilities, as well as the amount of energy being generated by the new solar panels. The Kirner-Johnson display will also show the amount of energy generated by a new windmill on the south side of campus. 

Associate Director of Physical Plant Frank Marsicane says that by putting information directly into the hands of those who use energy the college hopes to reduce its carbon footprint. 

"Making the campus aware of how much energy we use should help reduce our consumption," he said. 

Marsicane also pointed to a feature that allows occupants of different buildings to compare their usage, which he hopes will prompt challenges to reduce consumption.

Hamilton and Sustainability
In April 2007, Hamilton President Joan Hinde Stewart signed the American College & University Presidents Climate Commitment pledging the college to develop a comprehensive plan to achieve climate neutrality as soon as possible. Hamilton has already undertaken a number of initiatives, which are outlined on its sustainability Web site: http://www.hamilton.edu/sustainability/

About Lucid
Lucid Design Group is an innovative, cleantech software company located in Oakland, Calif., and a pioneer in providing real-time information feedback to teach, inspire change and save resources. For nearly five years, Lucid has endeavored to make resource use visible, accessible and engaging so that building occupants have the tools to reduce and manage their consumption. Today, thousands of people live and work in schools, companies, community and commercial centers and homes enhanced by Lucid's web-based Building Dashboard® technology. Lucid Design Group was selected by the U.S. Green Building Council as one of the six most innovative companies of 2006. The company is the 2007 recipient of the AMD Smart Power Grand Prize of the California Clean Tech Open, the nation's preeminent clean technology business contest, often dubbed "The Academy Awards" of Cleantech. [Source: http://www.luciddesigngroup.com/]

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