Energy Monitoring and Feedback in Duke Student Residences

Student Name: 
Catherine Joseph
Faculty Adviser: 
David Schaad
Academic Year: 

This project studies the energy consumption behavior of students living in Duke University residences.  The study includes both the collection of energy consumption data about Duke student residences and a study of changes in user behavior with respect to energy consumption. The second study will  be administered by collecting baseline data, giving the residents feedback about their consumption behaviors and ways in which to improve.

Three student residences have been chosen to study – the Home Depot Smart Home, a Central Campus apartment building, and an off-campus house.  In order to monitor the energy consumption of the three structures, eGauge energy monitoring devices have been, or will be, installed, in each structure and will be monitored using both  web-based viewing platform and the accessible data stored by the system. The first structure, the Home Depot Smart Home, located on Faber Street, is a ten-person dormitory that is the university’s LEED Platinum residence hall. An eGauge device has already been installed in the Smart Home and the data consumption, displayed instantaneously can be viewed at this website:

The second structure is an apartment structure on Central Campus that is assigned to the Ubuntu Selective Living Group. Ubuntu has agreed to be a test group for this project. Additionally, the apartment building selected has eight apartments and is of a similar floor plan as the Home Depot Smart Home. The final structure selected is the Wesley House, a student residence located off of East Campus. The project being proposed is sponsored under the Pratt Undergraduate Research Fellows Program.

Energy consumption in buildings accounts for approximately 40% of total consumption nationwide. With many students living and studying on campus, it is important to encourage energy consumption reducing behaviors in order to have a positive impact on the wider campus goals of sustainability, energy consumption reduction, and carbon neutrality. This project will help to raise awareness amongst students about individual and community energy consumption as well as help to cultivate positive behavioral changes. This project will serve as a case study for the implementation of similar technology in larger campus residences to encourage the progress of energy consumption reduction.  

Duke has set goals for sustainability and carbon neutrality. The built environment accounts for 40% of energy consumption nationwide, with residential structures claiming responsibility for a large percentage. With so many residential structures, and a large percentage of the student body living on campus, improving student energy consumption behavior is very important to achieving and maintaining carbon neutrality. Although this project does not reach the entire student body, it will raise awareness amongst the student population about energy consumption. Additionally, this project will serve as a case study for the Duke Facility Management Department, determining if this is an effective method of affecting student energy consumption behavior. Because of the expense of a monitoring and feedback system for a large building such as a dormitory, smaller structures were chosen for this project with the intent of scaling the project once it has been judged to be a successful method of reducing energy consumption.