Gabriel Sistare, staff writer
Warren Wilson junior, Gideon Burdick, is out of the planning stages and into the essentials of his project to monitor the energy efficiency of all of the dorms on campus.
Burdick borrowed the idea from Oberlin College’s similar project known as Real Time Energy Monitoring (RTEM), which monitors electrical usage.
Once completed, each dorm on campus will be outfitted with a circuit board that will monitor how much electricity and water is being used. All of this students will be able to see in real time on their computers. Juniors Wesley Roberts and Alexander Haynes will be designing the Java server software which will receive and store information transmitted by the energy monitors.
The next step will be to create a website which will read information from a database and generate graphs of energy usage on demand.
Burdick received grants from Brita, National Wildlife Foundation, The UN Foundation, and the college. The Brita grant was the largest, totaling $10,000.
The project supports the college’s efforts to reduce its carbon footprint.
Burdick created the system so students could see second by second how much electricity they are consuming and how easily they can cut back.
“It gets us to see that turning off a light, turning down a fan…makes a difference,” said Burdick.
Though energy consumption can sometimes seem like an overwhelming problem that one student or one dorm can do little to change, Burdick thinks that a function of the RTEM system may be to curb this kind of thinking.
“This encourages more conscious thinking of individual choices,” said Burdick.
Burdick has been able to draw on some expert help.
John Moon, a professor fromCanada’s Cambrian College, currently on sabbatical at Warren Wilson, is designing all the circuit boards that will be installed in the dorms to monitor the electrical, gas, and water usage.
The RTEM system allows any student at any time of the day to check the consumption of any dorm — a feature that could possibly start some productive rivalry between dorms.
After the circuit boards are complete, students will be enlisted to solder all the individual pieces on to them and finally have them installed.
If the college were to cut down on its energy usage, Burdick thinks that the dorms are the place to start.
“In terms of direct impact, that is where I see it happening the fastest,” he said.
Recently, Burdick was featured in the front page of the Mountains section in the Asheville Citizen-Times. The attention can’t be bad for the project, but Burdick said it puts some pressure on him to complete it by the deadline.
Burdick hopes that once the project is installed at Warren Wilson, he will be able to bring it to other colleges in the area.