On October 22, Eric Potkin, Harvard Law School Energy Manager, led a tour of the HLS campus and showed participants how various features of the School's buildings help conserve energy. For example, more and more HLS buildings are being lit by LEDs, which use as little as a fifth of the energy of traditional incandescent light bulbs. Areas in some buildings on campus have sensors that detect natural light; the lights are turned on only when there is insufficient natural light.
Wasserstein Center, a LEED Gold certified building, boasts many examples of how technology is used in modern buildings to reduce energy. Rooms in Wasserstein have air temperature and carbon dioxide sensors which are constantly monitored by software, which autonomously adjust the environmental conditions throughout the building. This software syncs with the scheduling tools used by faculty and students to schedule rooms in WCC, so that energy for climate control and ventilation need only be consumed when people actually need them. In rooms without schedules, motion sensors alert the computer of the level of human activity so the computer can reduce power use when the room is not in use.
This new knowledge brings interesting thoughts to my days in class. I find myself guessing what the computer thinks about the conditions in the room where sit. I wonder, "have the computers overseeing our comfort and well-being recently delivered me a burst of fresh air?"