The Department of Residence Life, with generous support from the Aggie Green Fund, recently launched a pilot project in Walton Hall that provides students with the opportunity to control their electrical outlets at the touch of an app-based button. Currently, residence hall students do not pay separate utility bills while living on campus, so energy management is an untapped opportunity for students to be educated on their impact to the environment. After completing research to determine if there was a creative solution to educate and limit the carbon footprint of our residents, Keewi Inc., an energy management company based in Santa Clara, CA who has completed projects at Stanford University & the University of Maryland, was selected to pilot a plug load management initiative in Walton Hall.
Brandon Carlson, Coordinator of Residence Life, wrote the initial grant for programmable power strips for several residence hall facilities across campus, but soon began to realize the challenge of completing the inventory and replacement of broken or lost equipment.
Reflecting on the initial challenges posed by the grant, Carlson said, “I had no idea the complexity of this project, and I quickly realized that we needed a more meaningful approach to educating our residents about their energy impact.”
Keewi utilizes a wireless outlet adaptor to provide residents with real-time data on their energy usage from each plug, while also providing residents with the opportunity to set schedules for when items are turned on and off, compete in an interactive energy challenge, and control items in their room from their smartphone.
“Once I was able to see the technology in practice, I knew that our residents would be impressed by the new controls they would have within their space to live a more sustainable lifestyle,” Carlson said.
The project rolled out into 4 rooms in Walton Hall in January 2019, with students utilizing their electrical items normally for the first two months to gain perspective on their baseline energy usage. In March 2019, Keewi staff met with students and Residence Life staff to launch the Keewi mobile application and to allow the residents to engage in an interactive energy challenge. Residents earn points every time they turn off an item in their room, answer a sustainability related “Question of the Day,” and set recurring schedules for outlets to turn on and off when needed. The challenge will run through the end of the Spring 2019 semester, and the residents in these rooms have been actively participating in the project.
Residence Life is excited to see the impact of this project in educating students about sustainable energy management in their residence hall room.