(Originally published in the May 2012 issue of the Nova Scotia Business Journal - "Going Green: New Era in Building" special advertising feature)
Saint Mary’s University has introduced a new Internet application that allows website visitors to see its campus’ consumption of electricity, heat and water in real time.
“It's part of our ongoing commitment to sustainability,” says Shelley Price, one of the university's sustainability champions. “The energy dashboard has a level of transparency that is offered by few organizations.”
The user-friendly Sustainability Dashboard displays real-time consumption of energy and water from 13 locations on campus. It can be accessed at www.smu.ca/sustainability .
The main page of the dashboard features a campus map that identifies individual buildings and details their total energy intensity. For any building on campus, a simple click of the mouse produces a real time display of the amount of water, heat and electricity being consumed. Data is collected 24 hours a day and displayed on the dashboard.
The dashboard also supplies historical data for any given building or combination of buildings. George Irving, a Siemens representative who has worked on the project, says this range of information makes the dashboard a useful research tool for both students and administrators.
The origins of the dashboard date back to 2007 when Saint Mary's performed a complete audit of the campus’ energy use and proposed ways to reduce energy consumption. One recommendation was to upgrade campus infrastructure to become more energy-efficient with innovations such as installing sensors which automatically turn off the lights in a room when nobody is there.
Findings suggested that energy reduction efforts could be even more meaningful if the impact could be measured in a way that might inspire people to change their behaviour. For example, when university residences are involved in an energy-saving challenge, they now have a real time way of assessing the impact of their efforts.
“As an informational tool, the Sustainability Dashboard challenges people to consider their own use of energy and motivates them to leave a lighter eco-footprint,” says Price.
Released during Saint Mary's 5th annual Sustainability Week, the dashboard is the final piece of a $5.2-million energy retrofit initiative.
* Read more "Going Green" stories at: http://www.ns.dailybusinessbuzz.ca/Industry-Spotlight/Going-Green%3A-New-Era-in-Building-23622