Green on the screen: An inside look at campus energy use and costs

Ever wonder just how much energy it takes to run a campus building on a day-to-day basis? Or how much the university’s energy bills actually cost? Now, you’re one step closer to finding out, with the introduction of sustainability dashboards, which are being installed in various buildings around campus or can be viewed online.

The first, installed in the lobby of Veale Center in May, shows how much energy the building is using at the moment (updated every 15 minutes), how much this usage costs—in dollars and in carbon emissions—and what that usage equates to. For example, using 189 kiloWatts of energy is equal to burning 189 pounds of coal, using 3,150 lightbulb hours or consuming five gallons of gasoline.

“People just don’t know how much energy they’re using,” said Gene Matthews, director of the Department of Facilities Services. To remedy this, Matthews wants employees and students to pay close attention to the numbers and take immediate action to lower their energy usage. If, for example, you notice your building is using 15 kW of energy at the moment, get a large group of coworkers to try some energy-saving tips (also provided on the dashboard) and check back later to see if your efforts paid off.

This initiative is part of the Climate Action Plan, the university’s guide to make Case Western Reserve University carbon-neutral in the next 40 years.

“If we really want the Climate Action Plan to work,” Matthews said, “behavior modification is a big part of that. We need everyone to change their habits.”

In addition to showing current energy usage, the dashboards show year-to-date consumption, costs and equivalents. Plus, you can see how much the wind turbine and solar arrays produce, especially in comparison to what is consumed in the buildings they help power.

For now, the online dashboard shows usage information for Veale Center, Adelbert Gym, Peter B. Lewis Building of the Weatherhead School of Management and George S. Dively Building, and on-site dashboards can be viewed in Veale Center and Adelbert Gym. Matthews hopes to have more dashboards up and running in other buildings in the next few months.

The sustainability dashboards are a collaboration between Information Technology Services and Facilities Services. View the dashboard online or visit Veale Center or the Lewis Building to see them in action.