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19 September 2013

LUCID inspires eco-friendly lifestyles

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LUCID energy-monitoring dashboards were installed into Hecht and Stanford residential colleges, the Hecht-Stanford Dining Hall, three University Village buildings and the MacArthur Engineering Building in August.

The initiative came to fruition after months of work between Student Government’s Energy and Conservation Organization (ECO), Green U and the University of Miami’s Facilities Management Department.

“You can track real time use … if I do this, let’s watch and see how much I save,” said Kamal Daghastani, chair of ECO. “It’s more of a reporting tool.”

Students are able to log on to buildingdashboard.net/Miami to see how much electricity has been used in their building so far that day, during the past week, month or year. On the website, they are also able to commit to an energy-saving action.

Members of the ECO board heard about the LUCID system after talking with friends at the University of Central Florida who had recently started their Kill-A-Watt program, Daghastani said. The program there held a competition between buildings and saved $40,000 in energy during that time.

“The system cost us about $40,000 to install, so that’s a one-year payoff,” he said. “We put them in the freshman dorms because they’re easiest to target with lots of residents, plus freshmen want to get involved.”

This spring, ECO hopes to incorporate the system into Sportsfest.

LUCID would have been installed in the Mahoney and Pearson residential colleges, but the electrical meter used in these facilities is also connected to the Gables One Tower and the parking garage.

Seeing results and savings instantanly is a rewarding process, according to Green U’s Sustainability Coordinator Ian McKeown.

“What I found was missing, was a solution that would immediately show [savings] online, as opposed to something that tracked [savings] monthly,” he said. “Most people don’t understand what impact they have.”

Many freshmen, like Shira Cohen, think the website is a great source of information for making differences in their daily routines.

“I try to be conscientious of turning off lights in my dorm and stuff, but if I’m able to track my use and see it right there, I think I would definitely be more motivated to do something,” she said. “The environment is the most pressing issue today. Anything that you can do to conserve energy is good.”