By Jonathan Woon
Staff reporter

President Dick Merriman signed a commitment in 2007 agreeing that Southwestern will be a carbon neutral institution that strives for the elimination of greenhouse gas emission. In early April 2010, Jason Speegle, director of the Green Team, investigated specific vendors for a smart metering system.

Speegle learned about the SmartSynch metering system and met with a representative to learn more about the system. The college then decided to invest $40,000 in the technology for a three year contract, which is targeted to save enough money on conservation that it will pay for itself and beyond. “We are one of the only learning institutions in the region to use this smart metering system,” said Speegle.

Smart metering system is a monitoring system for energy usage. The system records and sends data every 15 minutes from electricity meters from individual buildings to a server which will be visible over the internet via service provider AT&T. Speegle said, “This way, we can monitor energy usage for individual buildings more efficiently. Unlike before when monitoring of individual buildings was almost non-existent due to shared and crossed meters among buildings.”

Plant Operations will be monitoring the system on a regular basis.

As far as conservation of energy is concerned, Speegle said that it is important to know where we are using the most amount of energy and then reduce that energy usage.

Before this, all buildings were metered by sharing 10 traditional meters. Currently, eight out of 27 units of SmartSynch’s smart metering system have been successfully installed on campus. A total of 27 smart meters will be installed across all 23 buildings on campus. More smart meters are needed than the total number of buildings due to the size and age of buildings. Expected completion of the installation is at the end of this semester.

The Green Team has their part to play in the investment. Speegle looks at the technology as an educational tool for the Green Team to raise awareness about energy-using habits among students and staff. He also hopes that the team does energy audits around campus.

The Green Team is looking into organizing a competition similar to Recyclmania once installation is complete, where the residence hall with the least amount of energy per occupant usage per week and per day wins.

Sarah Rommelfanger, biology sophomore said, “It will be an educational activity designed to raise the students’ and staff’s awareness of their impact on the environment and increase responsibility for their own actions, all cleverly disguised as a fun competition.”

Joey Tran, music performance freshman, said, “It will be great experience for us as Green Team members to learn about the system while saving mother earth.”

All members of the Green Team who are interested will be given training on how to read the metering system once installation  is complete.

Jonathan Woon is a freshman majoring in communication. You may e-mail him at jonathan.woon@sckans.edu.