Kilowatts and carbon emissions are essentially invisible — until the electric bill comes. But many colleges have discovered that if you show people how much energy they are using in real time, they might be more inclined to save. That realization has led to all sorts of sophisticated displays that show energy-use rates climbing — or polar bears drowning — as lights, video games, computers, and other equipment power up.
Middlebury College has produced a short video on an energy- and water-use monitor that has been installed in its Franklin Environmental Center. In the video, Jack Byrne, Middlebury’s sustainability director, explains how the device works and what the college hopes to get out of it.
“This has already achieved one of the things that we hoped would happen — and that is that it engages visitors to the building and students in asking questions about why this building is special and what makes it LEED platinum,” Mr. Byrne says. “There was a lot of design intention that they can see now that makes this a sustainable building.”
You can play around with the monitor, too: It has its own interactive Web page.