Fairfield University officials hope 'Dashboards' get students to think twice

Fairfield University officials hope 'Dashboards' get students to think twice

Single stream recycling part of multiple sustainability efforts underway

Image: Energy Dashboard Energy hogs, your days are numbered, especially if you're a student at Fairfield University.

Thanks to a new device that looks like a flat-screen TV, Fairfield students can become more environmentally aware. The Dashboards, located in the lobbies of residential facilities, 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 ( www.fairfield.edu/dashboard ). The Dashboards also offer such telling information 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 studies/Spanish major from West Haven, Conn., observing a student apartment's considerable 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.

"What is unique about them is that they track electricity and BTUs by each student apartment," said David W. Frassinelli, associate vice president For Facilities Management at Fairfield. "We envision having contests between apartments and dorm rooms over who can consume the least amount of energy."

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 hooked up 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 percent by 2020 and 85 percent 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. Single stream recycling means an array of items can all be recycled together in one bin. 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.

Another retrofitting project is also making a difference. With the help of the Otis Elevator Company, Fairfield installed its second OVF 30 Regenerative Converter, making the University the only place in the state to have two 'green' elevators.

Image: Fairfield University undergraduates Zachary Gross '12, and Helen Nelson '13, check out a Dashboard that posts electricity usage and heating/cooling BTUs of student apartments.

Posted On: 11-14-2011 11:11 AM

Volume: 44 Number: 123