University Uses Graphics Displays to CommunicateEnergy Initiatives to Students

March 24, 2011
Energy Efficiency Education Dashboard® helps attain a LEED Innovation in Design education credit.

Eastern Mennonite University (EMU), a liberal arts Christian college in Harrisonburg, VA, uses QA Graphics’® sustainable education display to show students and visitors the campus’ real-time energy use and educate about the new green residence hall.

Eastern Mennonite University completed construction of Cedarwood the campus’ new environmentally friendly 35,000-square-foot residence hall in 2009. EMU has a number of sustainability initiatives in place throughout campus and when the time came to construct the new residence hall, it was decided to build following the U.S. Green Building Council’s® LEED® (Leadership in Energy & Environmental Design) green building rating system’s guidelines.

EMU is anticipating LEED Silver certification for Cedarwood. This is the first building on campus anticipating LEED certification. As part of the certification process, EMU collaborated with QA Graphics to develop an Energy Efficiency Education Dashboard® (EEED) to help attain an Innovation in Design education credit. QA Graphics’ Energy Efficiency Education Dashboard is an award-winning educational tool used by organizations to inform building occupants and the public about efficient resource use and sustainable building practices.

The educational solution is an interactive application designed similar to a website, which students can conveniently view online or on an interactive display located in the residence hall lobby. Here they can learn about the campus’ sustainability initiatives by viewing the residence hall’s real-time energy use, as well as information about what makes the new building environmentally friendly. Through this education, students and visitors can better understand how they too can be more sustainable and help make the campus more efficient. “Community education is important to EMU, both because it earns us a LEED credit, but more importantly because we want to share ideas about how to live and build more sustainably,” says Andrea Wenger, director of marketing and communications at Eastern Mennonite University.

“The dashboard provides a way for visitors to learn about the building as well as students living and visiting there to be aware of how their lifestyles impact the environment. This is a living and learning community...telling the story of Cedarwood's construction and building use fits in with our mission as a university committed to sustainability.”

By viewing the display, students and visitors can learn about the many green features that were taken into consideration when building the new residence hall. For example, over 85% of Cedarwood’s construction waste was sorted and recycled, and some of the green features in the building include natural daylighting, low- flow water fixtures, a bioretention filtration system to manage stormwater runoff, reflective roofing and more.

An animated demonstration also illustrates how the solar panels help heat over 50% of the building’s hot water. Currently, the display provides easy to understand real-time energy use information, with plans to also display real-time solar hot water and water use details.

“The display has potential to be a great learning tool,” according to Jeremy Good, of information systems at EMU.

“We’ve made an investment in the back-end infrastructure that allows us to display nearly any building statistic that's monitored around campus. Then some effort is needed to display them in a way that's palatable to the general public, which is where QA Graphics comes in," Good says.

QA Graphics’ Energy Efficiency Education Dashboard solution is used by universities, schools, restaurants, commercial businesses, government organizations and others. It has been named a 2010 top green building product by Environmental Design + Construction and Sustainable Facility magazines’ annual Readers Choice Awards as well as 2010 top 10 green building product by award-winning independent news source Sustainable Industries.