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Green Lights Program Will Monitor Commons’ Energy Use

Posted by on Wednesday, September 4, 2013 in Energy, News, Research.

[Originally posted by MyVU]

[Click here for story on InsideVandy]

When first-year students arrived at The Martha Rivers Ingram Commons for Move In Aug. 17, they were met by brand-new Green Lights screens in the lobby of each house. The screens display real-time energy use for each residence hall and tell the viewer whether or not the building is meeting its pre-determined energy savings goal.

The Green Lights program was funded by a winning 2012-13 Green Fund proposal written by Vanderbilt students Michael Diamond and Samuel Smith, members of the campus group Students Promoting Environmental Awareness and Responsibility.

“The screens are a powerful tool to educate students about the amount of energy used in their residence halls each day,” Smith explained. “We hope this knowledge will lead students to then save energy by turning off lights, adjusting their room temperatures, and turning off their TVs and computers before leaving their rooms.”

A new data point is collected every five minutes for each Commons house, with weekly trending plotted on a graph illustrated on that house’s Green Lights screen. A red, yellow or green icon tells students whether the building is using more or less energy than it should based on pre-determined energy conservation goals. Students can do their part to meet these goals by turning off lights, powering down electronic equipment and adjusting thermostats. More detailed information about how students can save energy in Vanderbilt’s residence halls can be found on the ThinkOne website.

The backbone of the Green Lights program is EnergyVU, a new online energy dashboard for all campus buildings at Vanderbilt. Plant Operations launched this powerful tool during the summer, and it is now available to anyone on campus. Users can compare the energy use of a specific building over time or to a set of other buildings.

Plant Operations created EnergyVU with the goal of “promoting energy awareness, accountability and conservation to the Vanderbilt community, Vanderbilt’s institutional peers and the greater Nashville area,” said Mitch Lampley, director of engineering and technical support for Plant Operations. “EnergyVU provides the tools to share energy information, promote an understanding of energy consumption and empower every member of the Vanderbilt community to affect change.”

For more information about ways to conserve energy on campus, visit the SustainVU and ThinkOne websites. Please send questions regarding EnergyVU and energy conservation to

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