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The Badger Herald

Independent Student Newspaper Since 1969

The Badger Herald

Independent Student Newspaper Since 1969

The Badger Herald


Sustainability project receives grant

Organizers of the sustainability project hope to eventually develop a mobile application so individuals can monitor how much energy they use in a given building, like Chadbourne Hall.[/media-credit]

The National Science Foundation awarded a grant to a University of
Wisconsin sustainability project
through the Sustainable Energy Pathways program.

The study focuses on the human component of building sustainability. Faculty members across different UW departments and workers from the Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in New York will work on the four-year study.

According to Suman Banerjee, UW professor of computer sciences and electrical and computer engineering, the primary goal of the project is to understand how energy is consumed in large commercial buildings.


Banerjee said the focus is on developing a system to allow occupants of buildings to see how much energy the building is consuming.

Banerjee said they are working with Cole and Chadbourne Residence Halls to implement the system.

“By being aware of their consumption manner, they can see how they can improve,” Banerjee said.

In the future, Banerjee said they might build a mobile application in order to inform individuals of their personal energy use.

According to Banarjee, Cole and Chadbourne will be used as a testing ground for the project before eventually expanding to other dorms.

Associate professor of consumer science Nancy Wong said energy use in
commercial buildings is one of the biggest aspects of energy
consumption in the US that has not been examined.

Wong said it is important to solve the cultural and human question
that has not been emphasized in the past regarding human interaction
with energy resources.

“The way we can achieve the best result in prompting human behavior is develop an educational program,” Wong said.

Wong said their long-term goal is to investigate the potential for
education and outreach and for broader implementation regarding
information feedback and management control systems.

Wong said she believes people want to do the right thing but do not
have the tools to do so. However, she said if people give feedback on a daily or weekly
basis, it helps to educate and monitor behavior on an individualized

“I think it is exciting for people at the University of Wisconsin
because the university has always been trying to promote what they call
‘interdisciplinary research,'” Wong said.

Banerjee said the project will also function as an opportunity to test and further improve the technology being put to use. Banerjee said this is a cross-disciplinary research project involving the UW Office of Sustainability and individuals within the fields of electrical and civil engineering, computer science and human ecology.

He said this is an important project that demonstrates the leadership the UW campus displays regarding research.

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