New UC Berkeley website monitors electricity usage in campus buildings

Kayla Shapiro/Staff
Barrows Hall is among the campus buildings where energy usage is monitored in detail and is viewable online.

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A UC Berkeley energy-saving program launched a website Tuesday that allows students, faculty and staff to track the electricity usage of campus buildings.

The website, called myPower at Berkeley, seeks to provide the campus community with information about day-to-day electricity usage. It was launched by the campus Energy Management program, which aims to permanently reduce the amount of energy the campus uses.

Both myPower and the Energy Management program are part of the campus cost-cutting Operational Excellence initiative, which began in 2009. According to a January report, the initiative could save the campus as much as $112 million this year. The myPower program costs $763,000 in Operational Excellence funding and is projected to save $257,000 annually, according to Erin Fenley, energy management communications specialist for the campus.

According to Fenley, the program aims to reallocate saved funds into research and teaching programs.

The myPower website measures electricity consumption by using kilowatt data it receives from meter technology, which is updated every 15 minutes.

The website currently receives data from 57 buildings on campus, and could double that number within the next few months, Fenley said. Some buildings the website tracks are Barrows Hall, Wheeler Hall and even the Berkeley Art Museum and Pacific Film Archive.

Organizers hope the website will encourage the campus community to think twice about its day-to-day energy consumption, both on and off campus. By allowing students and faculty to view their electricity consumption, the website could more readily involve the student body in energy reduction efforts on campus, Fenley said.

“There are so many people on the Berkeley campus who are already engaged in doing great things and with this program we have the opportunity to get some really impressive results,” Fenley said.

The website also includes facts and tips on how to reduce energy consumption on campus and residence halls, which were specifically researched for and tailored to the UC Berkeley campus, according to Fenley.

The website is one of four initiatives being implemented by the Energy Management program, which also includes the creation of an energy office on campus, policy initiatives and a financial incentive program for buildings with reduced energy consumption, according to Christine Shaff, communications manager for the campus facilities services department.

The incentive program will use data from the website to create a baseline energy consumption amount for each operating unit, which refers to a specific departmental office in a specific building, according to Shaff.

From there, each operating unit will receive a financial reward for having energy consumption below its baseline. In one year, the Energy Management Program will begin to give financial penalties for those operating units above their baseline consumption, Shaff said.