At this time of year, you might expect Notre Dame students to be focusing on midterms or planning for Spring Break, but instead, students across campus are getting ready for a new kind of dorm energy competition.
New state-of-the-art meters and a new online dashboard will now enable students to see how much energy their dorm is using and how they rank in the competition at any time. The interactive dashboard was created by Lucid Design Group, a software company that specializes in information feedback that inspires energy and resource conservation. The dashboard engages students not just by providing regularly updated data, but also by giving students a social media-based forum to commit to energy-saving behaviors and share winning strategies.
“This has been a challenging project to implement, and we’re so grateful to everyone at Utilities and OIT who has worked so hard on it,” said Erin Hafner, Programs Manager in the Office of Sustainability. “Other universities have utilized energy dashboards to realize a 10-30% reduction in energy use, and we are looking forward to maximizing the potential of this technology for student engagement and education.”
This semester’s competition will have an additional twist: rather than each dorm competing against all others, the dorms have been divided into four geographic groups which will compete as teams. The four teams are North Quad, South Quad, West Quad, and Mod/God Quad, and the winning quad will receive $1,000 to divide among its member dorms.
“There’s no better way to rally up energy conservation than some wholesome competition,” said Martha Dee, Sustainability Commissioner of Walsh Hall. “I am so stoked to win $1,000 for my quad,” added Patrick Rahill, Sustainability Commissioner of St. Ed’s.
The savings accrued by the residence halls through the Quad Energy Competition will be entered into Campus Conservation Nationals (CCN), a nation-wide energy competition hosted by Lucid Design Group in collaboration with the National Wildlife Federation, Alliance to Save Energy, and the USGBC Center for Green Schools. “Nearly 250,000 students at 150 colleges across the U.S. and Canada are participating in CCN 2012,” said Anne Whitty ’12, Co-President of greeND. “The collective goal is to conserve one gigawatt-hour (a million kilowatt hours), and our goal here at Notre Dame is to rank among the top conserving schools across the country.”
The competition runs from March 10th through March 30th. Each dorm will be ranked based on how much electricity it conserves relative to a baseline collected for the second half of February 2012. Since the competition runs over Spring Break, students can get an early lead by unplugging all appliances, including refrigerators, televisions, and gaming systems, before they leave town. (Make sure freezers are defrosted with care so they don’t leak.)
The real-time metering and dashboard system was funded by the Office of Sustainability through the Green Loan Fund, a $2 million revolving fund established by the University to support energy and resource conservation projects. The $1,000 prize is co-sponsored by the Office of Sustainability, Center for Sustainable Energy at Notre Dame, Student Government, and greeND.