College Kids Cut Energy, Display Real-Time Results Online

photo building dashboard u missouri campus conservation nationals
A screenshot of the Building Dashboard for a residence hall at University of Missouri.

Another conservation contest on college campuses is nothing new. How they're showing off the results makes this one notable. About 40 colleges in the U.S. and Canada are competing for "biggest loser" status by cutting energy and water use in the Campus Conservation Nationals. The competitors are using an online app called Building Dashboard, which makes energy and water use visible in real time on the web.
The Campus Conservation Nationals began Nov. 1 and run until the 19th. Organizers, from the Green Building Council and Lucid Design Group, which makes Building Dashboard, are aiming to motivate students to conserve resources, especially in living areas like residence halls.

Residence halls are top producers of greenhouse gas emissions on college campuses, and they use a lot of electricity and water. The Building Dashboard software lets schools compare their performance with others, share winning strategies and track standings among other schools and buildings.

Colleges in the contest will be judged on how much electricity and water use they cut during the three-week period, compared to a baseline set in October. Winners, or "biggest losers" in various categories will receive a prize package from the GBC and clothing vendor Study Like a Champion. The schools also will get a licensed version of Building Dashboard, to keep showing off their energy and water use (and hopefully encourage more students to keep it light).

The 2010 contest is the first real-time competition of its kind, according to Lucid and other sponsors, the Alliance to Save Energy and National Wildlife Federation.

Think about it: This kind of real-time data gives students another incentive to cut energy and water use, and shame the heck out of rival, bloated universities with comparative graphs, glowing orbs and other info. Imagine if you had one of these on your home or business, and had to compete with your neighbors.

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