The Bear-o-Meter | http://my.brooksschool.org/polarbear
Green Life Brooks officially launched on May 8, 2009, making Brooks School the first prep school in the country to use animated technology, developed at Dartmouth College, which encourages energy conservation by tugging at those heartstrings.
The program tracks and displays energy consumption through the wellbeing of the polar bear in real-time. The bear displays happy, playful actions when electric usage is low; he becomes increasingly distressed as energy use increases, until he eventually falls through melting ice into freezing water.
The program also uses charts, graphs and text to strengthen students’ understanding of sustainability — not just on campus, but across the country and around the globe. It also creates connections between students’ actions and environmental climate change.
TellEmotion, a start-up company that launched its trial polar bear in April 2008 in two Dartmouth College dorms, monitors the energy consumption in 25 buildings on Brooks’ campus, including 10 dorms. An oversized touch-screen in the school’s environmentally-friendly Science Center allows students to compare the progress of their dorm to other dorms. Touch-screen monitors, soon to turn on and off via motion sensors, were also installed in each of the dorms.
“Developing the ‘smart grid’ is a hot topic these days, but electricity use can only be reduced so much with new technologies,” Director of Sustainability Brian Palm said. “Users must make important changes in their behavior for significant energy reduction. There, we’re taking up the challenge of educating our campus community and changing how our students, staff and faculty operate within our school buildings.”
In the inaugural few weeks, almost every dorm made strides in reducing energy use. The biggest conservers were the ladies of Hettinger West dorm. With a little help from our friendly polar bear, the girls' dormitory cut electrical usage by 21 percent during the first week of monitoring.
Administrators continued to tweak the technology and track energy consumption around campus while the monitors were turned off for roughly six months, thus providing a more accurate baseline for each building’s typical consumption levels. Since turning the monitors back on in December 2009, they’re getting more accurate consumption data to analyze.
A handful of students formed the Polar Bear Task Force in the fall of 2009 to create a fun return for the polar bear. They drew green paw prints on campus walkways, organized a “dinner in the dark,” and produced a humorous video of students imitating polar bears. They also convinced Bridget Vellturo ’10 to don in the famous mascot suit for the relaunch party that was first worn by Sam Eisenman ’09 during the inaugural launch party.
Palm, Chief Information Officer Dean Ellerton and Director of Facilities John Trovage are monitoring the progress of individual dorms, as well as the campus as a whole. Got a question? These guys have an answer. E-mail them directly and we'll post all answers on this webpage.
And anyone can view our Bear-o-Meter via the web. Simply click here track our environmental mascot's emotions in each dorm.
More Polar Bear Information