For the greener good: Students bring energy consciousness to BIF

The Business Instructional Facility’s digital display screen was designed to catch the eyes of those who walk through its Atrium. Now, students are using it to help save the world.

The display now includes a series of slides related to BIF’s energy usage. Each contains a simple message about energy consumption in BIF and what can be done to reduce it. The goal is to increase awareness of energy sustainability efforts and drive behavior change on campus.

But how can one person make a difference? The slides offer quick tips for busy students and faculty, including putting a computer to sleep when not in use, taking the stairs instead of the elevator, and sharing a study room.

Students in the Sustainable Marketplaces Lab Project created the series of slides, which first appeared in the display rotation December 2. Led by the College’s Sustainability Fellow, Madhu Viswanathan, the students worked with staff in the College of Business and the Illinois Facilities and Services Department to get information about campus energy usage onto the display screen.

“After collecting feedback, we’re going to iterate on the slide designs and hopefully create something even more engaging,” explained Colin Forst, one of the students working on the project. “Our team is striving to simplify the language of sustainability into something that anyone can digest.”

Pending feedback, the slides may be added to digital displays in other buildings across campus, with the goal of reducing energy consumption in those places as well.

Data on real-time energy use in BIF and Wohlers Hall is available on the University’s Energy Dashboard. There, the buildings’ daily energy usage and costs can be compared with other campus buildings.

The University of Illinois has reduced energy usage by 28% since 2008, placing it at the top of the Big Ten in terms of energy reduction. The cost savings are reinvested back into the campus energy conservation effort for other buildings, making the entire campus greener overall.

For more information on energy conservation at the University of Illinois, visit Facilities & Services’ Energy Conservation webpage.