The relevance of campus sustainability

In recent times sustainability has become a buzz word amongst a large section of the world community and particularly amongst Business and Industry fraternity. In a rapidly globalized world faced with social inequity, environmental degradation and economic slowdown, sustainability has often been cited as the panacea for solving the ills of society. What is however not known is the fact that education provides the base knowledge for addressing humanity’s footprint, and many of us at educational institutions often need to have a deeper understanding of the issue.

 

Initiating sustainability at educational campuses

Educational campuses are generally seen as the altar for teaching, learning and dissemination of knowledge. However, in recent times campuses have also started to move in the direction of addressing sustainability issues in terms of curriculum, research and operational aspects. With the advent of several voluntary global sustainability standards, campuses are now driven by the need to be adopt sustainable and green practices in their operations. Today, increasingly the industry is seeking skilled managers with competence not only in core technical disciplines like engineering and environmental sciences but also emerging businesses like carbon trading, renewable energy, power trading, efficient coal technology, oil/gas markets etc with added knowledge in conventional management subjects. From a B and I perspective this is important as it helps develop a talented pool of young managerial talent to better understand specialised areas like global business practices, global energy scenarios, carbon financing and market economics environmental standards, energy policies and regulations etc.

In September 2015 the Symbiosis Institute of International Business (SIIB), a constituent of Symbiosis International (Deemed University) organised its first Energy and Environment Conclave (ENECON 2015) where senior industry professionals and policy makers were invited to deliberate on some of the important challenges and opportunities being faced in the sector. During this Conclave it was decided to involve SIIB and its Energy and Environment programme in the development of the Smart Campus Cloud Network (SCCN). Dr Rajendra Shende, Former Director UNEP and Chairman TERRE Policy Centre and Mr Harit Soni, Director,Ecolibrium Energy were instrumental in creating the platform for the introduction of this unique initiative at SIIB. As a result, SIIB became the first Educational campus in India to become a member of the SCCN.

 

Qualitative data

The unique MBA Programme on Energy and Environment at SIIB, was established way back in 2009, with a view to build capacity of young managers in integrating technology, management and sustainable development. These included several depth level courses related to energy management. However, while these gave a theoretical perspective on energy consumption and energy efficiency, it was only through the advent of the SmartSense Energy Initiative, that we attempted to explore the world of energy analytics differently. Before this, most energy data was qualitative in nature with a dynamic academic curriculum being linked to industry practices. The presence of several industry professionals at the campus also added value for students in understanding industry concepts in the field of energy management. What was however missing in delivering industry relevant content for students was quantitative data on the operational aspects of energy management. The initiative for installing a SmartSense energy meter, therefore proved to be a boon for all students in giving first hand and real time understanding of energy consumption use at the campus.

The SmartSense dashboard since its installation in October 2016 has provided valuable information on the current energy consumption pattern at the SIIB academic campus. While only a single meter was installed, this has in many ways given students a platform to understand energy usage patterns each day as well as review the monthly consumption data. The Power Genome (A machine learning algorithm) used to track the consumption pattern worked wonders for them.

 

The Practice

A core group of consisting of selected students and faculties has been formed to co-ordinate and analyse energy consumption data. Five subgroup consisting of remaining students, comprising of at least one electrical engineer and one mechanical engineer/chemical/ power or production engineer have also been involved for a better understanding of the process. Once every month/fortnight, the core group conducts a meeting to discuss and share the monitoring process/ indicators/ feedbacks/ suggestions. The group refers to the reports generated by SmartSense data and the Power Genome (machine learning algorithm), to devise methods to make use of electricity more efficiently.

Quarterly consumption during summer months of 2017, was 37428 kWH with an average monthly Consumption-12476 kWH. On a daily basis this worked out to 404.36 kWH. The dashboard also helped us to identify consumption peaks e.g on 21st June, 2017 a peak consumption of 900kWH was observed. Trends from the SmartSense dashboard indicates that there is a steady increase in energy usage at SIIB. Additionally, we also noticed that on 41 days out of 92, energy consumption was greater than average daily consumption. While these are smalls steps towards understanding our usage patterns, as time goes by, we hope to initiate student projects using the dashboard for detailed data analytics in terms of usage per person, usage per unit area of the campus,comparison of grid power vs RE power etc.

 

Months — No. of days of consumption greater than avg consumption.

  • May 2017- 3
  • June 2017- 16
  • July 2017- 22
  • August 2017- 7

 

At this point of time this initiative through SCCN is a pilot study with data being generated on energy consumption across the institutes’ academic facilities. The MBA Energy and Environment students saw this as a novel idea to track energy consumption across the day, month as well as during important Institutional events and conclaves. The students of this Batch used this opportunity to provide a daily report on the energy consumption for the benefit of all students with the Power Genome (machine learning algorithm). This not only created awareness amongst students but on many occasions spurred students to inform the administration on rationalising usage of power across the campus and hostel areas.

At the campus as we begin to understand the intricacies of energy analytics using the SmartSense meter, we believe that data analytics will play a critical role on not only providing students with a real time experience, but also become a major focus in times to come in shaping the minds of young talent in operationalising sustainable practices at work place. In the future the Institute is also planning to integrate rooftop Solar PhotoVoltaic (PV) system with the Smart Sense meter. This will further help us in analysing our usage of renewable energy vs conventional grid based power.

At SIIB, we continuously believe that innovation is key to shaping the minds of the young generation and the SmartSense initiative has greatly helped provide a perfect platform for us to work towards developing a sustainable campus across teaching, research and operational aspects. In the long run, the rational use of energy using the SmartSense analytics platform at our campus will help us move towards achieving our vision of overall sustainability. In doing so, we hope to provide students practical exposure to facets of energy management through analytics, but also an economic solution towards cost savings as well as environmental co- benefits towards climate mitigation efforts.

Smart Sense Energy deals with energy analytics and provides a SmartSense advantage that can be availed using Smart Sense analytics.

Energy Analytics | Smart Sense Energy | Smart Sense | Smart Sense Analytics

– Prakash Rao

– Deputy Director

– Symbiosis Institute of International Business

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