University’s “Dashboard” Highlights Energy Use

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Thanks to new technology installed on-site, Fairfield University students can become more environmentally aware. The “dashboards,” located in the lobbies of residential facilities at the Connecticut institution, post electricity usage and heating/cooling BTUs (British Thermal Units) for student apartments in real time, by the hour, day, week, and month.

They can also be accessed via any computer with an Internet connection. The Dashboards also offer additional information, such as the number of acres of trees needed to offset a respective building’s carbon footprint.

“Look at that big red bar,” said Helen Nelson, ’13, an environmental science major/Spanish major observing a student apartment’s electrical usage. “They do provide a more visible way to observe your energy consumption. They’re not nebulous. You can see the direct impact of the choices you make.”

One can also track the University’s EPA-award winning Combined Heat and Power Plant (CHP) production, which provides power to the majority of campus buildings.

David W. Frassinelli, associate vice president For Facilities Management at Fairfield, explained that the system tracks electricity and BTUs by each student apartment. “We envision having contests between apartments and dorm rooms over who can consume the least amount of energy,” he said.

Zach Gross, ’12, a member of LEAF – Leaders for Environmental Awareness at Fairfield, feels they might help with eco-awareness. “I can see them catching a student’s attention,” said Gross, ’12, of Roxbury, Conn. “If anything, they will get you thinking of the energy you consume compared to your neighbor.”

So far, the buildings connected to the dashboards include 70 McCormick Road, 51 McInnes Road, John C. Dolan Hall, Claver Hall, Kostka Hall, the Barone Campus Center, and the DiMenna-Nyselius Library.  “The University will gradually roll out the Dashboards to be in all campus buildings,” said Frassinelli.

In addition to serving as an educational tool, the Dashboards support the University’s Department of Facilities Management. The success of retro-commissioning and eco-friendly upgrades will be documented with the sub-metered info tracked on them. These sustainability projects are part of a larger initiative, Fairfield’s Climate Action Plan. The University has set its total emission reduction goals at 20% by 2020 and 85% by 2050 against the baseline year of 2005.

Other campus wide green initiatives to note include a recent move to single stream recycling, an effort that University officials hope will lead to major savings in carting fees. Those items are newspapers, flattened cardboard, metal/aluminum, food boxes, all glass items, empty milk cartons, all empty plastics #1-7, and white and colored paper.

Meanwhile, another retrofitting project is also making a difference. With the help of the Otis Elevator Company, Fairfield installed its second OVF 30 Regenerative Converter.

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