The Pacific Northwest Smart Grid Demonstration Project inaugurated its first widespread demonstration project Oct. 24 at Alder hall. The event marked the official beginning of UW’s effort to install a campus-wide smart grid that tracks power output in every building.
Approximately 90 people attended the event, with U.S. Sens. Maria Cantwell, Patty Murray, and UW Provost Ana Mari Cauce among the speakers.
“It’s a phase of technology that we haven’t had before and it’s very exciting for us to participate in something as experimental and beneficial as this would be,” said Charles Kennedy, UW associate vice president of facilities services.
The Smart Grid, in its UW manifestation, aims to track energy usage by installing consumption meters in several buildings and distributing energy measuring kits to students for personal use. Armed with a power strip and a wireless control panel, students can plug in devices and track or adjust them on the panel, which then relays the information to a central monitor that tracks the whole building’s consumption.
“Students can name and track their devices even on their phone,” said Jon Sargeant, project engineer and employee of McKinstry Company, one of the agencies collaborating with UW in the demonstration. “I have a son at Evergreen, so one of my concerns going in was if the equipment could survive, but you can plug in whatever you want, Xbox, iPod charger, anything.”
Elm Hall will serve as the first residence hall in which students will receive their kits, and the central tracking monitor will measure the building’s total consumption of energy. Poplar Hall will act as the control building, in which the energy output of the building will be measured, and students will not receive a kit, but instead reports of energy consumption, and they will compete to lower total power use.