The new energy dashboard on the university website resembles a personal activity tracker on an institutional scale, with a key exception. While personal trackers generally aim to encourage more energy use on the part of its wearers, the energy dashboard strives to inspire less.
Like the personal tracker, the ISU dashboard provides plenty of data, allowing the university community to see the effects of its energy-related actions. The site includes a real-time pie chart that shows which of the big three energy needs -- heating, cooling or electricity -- is commanding the biggest slice at any given moment along with more detailed information on individual buildings.
Lindsey Wanderscheid, project engineer for utilities, says facilities, planning and management staff hope the dashboard will help people across campus find ways to reduce energy consumption in their buildings. She suggests special attention to these pages:
- Campus map: Provides an overview of most campus buildings, color-coded by energy use per square foot.
- Compare buildings: Compares all facilities, based on BTUs per square foot. A pull-down category allows comparisons between like buildings, such as academic, science and research, or housing facilities.
- Select building: Offers detailed energy data for each facility on campus.
When it comes to energy savings, all buildings aren't created equal. Wanderscheid points out that science and research buildings generally use more energy than, for example, administrative buildings. And a decades-old facility likely won't fare well in BTU competition with the LEED-certified upstarts.
However, whether your building is old or new, there's always room for improvement and the energy chart data may well point the way. For example, Wanderscheid said, an unexpected surge in chilled water may be a sign of a leak somewhere. A building that's consistently consuming considerably more energy than similar facilities may benefit from a closer assessment by FPM experts.
A good place to start
Wanderscheid suggests building occupants keep an ever-present eye on electricity costs. Turning off unused computers, lights, research equipment, coffee machines and other appliances can make a real difference in energy and environmental costs.
"If you don't use the electricity," she said, "we don't have to burn the coal or make the steam."