Conspicuous Consumption (Wired)

Pop quiz. How much energy are you using right now? Admit it, you have no idea. Building Dashboard could tell you. Developed by Lucid Design Group, it provides real-time, Web-based feedback on electric, gas, and water usage. “This once-a-month utility bill nonsense isn’t good enough to change behavior,” says Michael Murray of Lucid, which is working to outfit buildings with consumption sensors. The system sends the collected info via the Net to Lucid’s servers, where it’s packaged into a slick, widget-like interface. The hard part is making the data relevant to residents. For instance, students at Oberlin College see their per-person dorm room power consumption expressed not as kilowatt-hours but as the energy needed to produce a veggie burger. Of course, the more literal-minded can get the breakdown in old-fashioned pounds of carbon dioxide. (link)