News

"Do it in the Dark" Competition Helps Students Track and Reduce Energy Usage

by Morgan Orangi '13
Tent village
For two nights during the month of November, students are invited to camp out on Chambers Lawn and experience what it’s like to live off of the grid.

During the month of November, residence halls will compete in the annual "Do it in the Dark" energy conservation competition, but with a new interactive element – the real-time dashboard.

The new online dashboard from Activelogix, a leading provider of Internet-based enterprise automation solutions, allows students to track the energy usage of their residence hall online at any moment and adjust their use accordingly.

Davidson College Energy Manager Claire Naisby '12 said, "The real-time dashboard gets students a lot more excited and more in touch with the competition because they can actually see when they're using more energy-whether that be leaving their lights on or playing video games-and where they should focus on saving energy."

The main dashboard displays campus's total electricity usage for the day, week, month and year, and contains a campus map where the viewer can click and view the dashboards for individual residence halls. It receives that information from the buildings' new sub-meters, which were purchased with a $150,000 DuPont Fund grant. The dashboard also provides statistics detailing dollars spent, trees consumed and pounds of coal used on campus.

Dashboard
Competition online dashboard.

In previous years, members of the student-led Environmental Action Committee (EAC), the primary competition sponsor, manually read sub-meters and posted weekly rankings on a board outside of Chambers. When Davidson began participating in a national energy competition, Campus Conservation Nationals, they received a dashboard, but it wasn't customized and didn't provide campus with real-time data.

"Students can now access the data at all times and use it as an educational tool," said Naisby.

The EAC plans to supplement the dashboard's educational component with the following campus-wide events:

  • Oct. 31: Kick-off event at Live Thursdays featuring Androgyny in the C. Shaw Smith 900 room from 10 to 11 p.m.
  • Nov. 1: Court party kick off at Sigma Phi Epsilon house from 11 p.m. to 2 a.m.
  • Nov. 6-7: Tent village on Chambers lawn
  • Nov. 10: Screening of "Shift," a documentary on energy and power sources, with a Q&A session with filmmakers Sam and Kate Fulbright to follow in the C. Shaw Smith 900 room at 4:30 p.m.
  • Date TBD: Educational event most likely consisting of a mock dorm room set up in the Alvarez College Union atrium

The two kick-off events, one up the hill and one down the hill, reflect that the competition will include Martin Court apartments and a separate competition between Patterson Court fraternity and eating houses for the first time this year.

"We're trying to partner with more organizations in order to increase our outreach and awareness about energy-related issues on campus," said Scott Sellers '14, president of EAC. "We want to create behavioral change, resulting in a community that is more collectively conscious of the environment and inspired to take purposeful action."

Sellers said that Do it in the Dark has grown exponentially during his time at Davidson and has become more dynamic by engaging people throughout the entire month of the competition. Ultimately, he hopes students will continue to reduce their energy use long after the competition has ended.

Water meters also have been installed on the residence halls. In the future, Naisby would like to hold a water use reduction competition because she believes that water is going to become scarcer.

"Through environmental efforts such as Do it in the Dark, students see that they're able to make an impact everyday and take their learning beyond the classroom," Naisby said.


Do it in the Dark is sponsored by the Environmental Action Coalition, the Energy Club, Patterson Court, Union Board, Androgyny (coed acapella group on campus), the Residence Life Office, Physical Plant and the Office of Sustainability.