Clarkson prof hopes to show students in dorms how to cut energy use
Saturday, May 31, 2014 - 8:54 am

POTSDAM -- A Clarkson University professor is trying to figure out how to get college students living in residence halls to use less water and electricity, something their parents wish they could do at home.

Assistant professor of political science Stephen Bird says he thinks the amount of energy people use is tied in to whether or not they see a monthly bill, which students in dorms do not.

“That’s a lot of people who have access to a thermostat but never get a heating bill,” Bird says in a news release. "In this case, the students are drawing large amounts of energy which, in turn, loads the power grid and consumes natural resources expensively and inefficiently.

“If we can show students how much energy they use, if they see the impact of turning up the heat in winter or spending 15 minutes in the shower instead of five, we expect their behavior will change, dramatically.”

As part of recent renovations, Clarkson's Woodstock Village student apartments had sensors, digital readers and other data-collecting elements installed. They monitor and show energy and water use.

See a video about Clarkson's smart housing research at