The University of Toledo Sustainability, Energy Efficiency and Design (SEED) Initiative has unveiled a new tool in an effort to raise awareness and encourage conscious actions to reduce energy usage across campus.
The Energy Dashboard provides a real-time snapshot of energy usage and measures kilowatt-hours for each building on Main Campus. It was developed to monitor UT’s energy usage in order to better manage utility costs and greenhouse gas emissions, but also can be a tool for building occupants to become more aware of energy usage as the University community embraces a culture of sustainability.
“Our hope is that the Energy Dashboard will make people more aware of their energy usage, and they will make conscious decisions to turn off lights and adjust thermostats to help conserve energy,” said Sandrine Mubenga, UT manager of electrical engineering.
SEED, housed within UT’s Facilities and Construction Department, works to develop and implement environmental sustainability projects, energy conservation measures, innovative building renovation and design, and a comprehensive educational campaign.
The Energy Dashboard joins a long list of initiatives the Facilities and Construction Department, and specifically the Sustainability, Energy Efficiency and Design Initiative, have implemented to reduce the University’s carbon footprint.
Last year Facilities and Construction, with the help of SEED, designed and implemented a $2 million upgrade to the lighting on campus, including motion sensors in hallways, bathrooms, classrooms and offices, to help reduce UT’s electric bills by about $200,000 per year.
The lighting upgrades, in conjunction with other SEED projects, saved the University $1.4 million in total energy costs in 2014, according to Mubenga.
The University unveiled a sustainability plan earlier this year, with four major areas of focus: active engagement, energy and water efficiency and conservation, zero waste, and carbon neutrality. UT also hopes to expand the use of natural sources of energy on campus in addition to the use of a cogeneration plant, steam and chilled water lines, natural gas, solar panels, and wind turbines.
SEED also works to include students in University efforts to conserve energy with programs like BlackoUT, a campus-wide residence hall energy competition; Friday Night Lights, where student volunteers turn off lights in academic buildings each week; and RecycleMania, an annual recycling competition that involves colleges and universities across the United States and Canada.
To see the Energy Dashboard, visit utoledo.edu/sustainability/dashpro.