Dec. 11, 2018 - The entrance to the AISD Agricultural Science Center now features a 55-inch touch screen with an interactive dashboard that illustrates the Center’s production and usage of energy. The dashboard went live earlier this month.
The Ag Center is a net-zero facility, utilizing a roof-mounted photovoltaic solar array and wind turbine to produce its own energy. On average it produces more energy than it uses each day and pushes the surplus onto the local power grid. The building also includes rain water storage tanks.
Thanks to the dashboard, students can see in real-time how the energy production works. A series of graphs display the production of solar and wind energy, along with rain water collection, on an hourly, daily, monthly and yearly basis, and then compares it with the facility’s energy use. Since the Ag Center is sub-metered, the dashboard also shows how much energy is being used by different building systems, like HVAC or lighting, at any given time.
Though the Ag Center is primarily a high school building, with two classrooms, a metal lab, animal pens and support areas, the dashboard is available to anyone online, including teachers of all grade levels who can access it in their classrooms. The AISD’s curriculum and instruction department is developing plans to incorporate the dashboard into classroom instruction as a way to teach about energy resources and agriculture. As part of those plans, real-time data on weather and moon phases, local watershed information, animal life cycles and interactive games are embedded in the dashboard.
"Ideally, we would like to eventually include live feeds of the animals if possible," said Danielle Reynolds, AISD K-12 science coordinator in curriculum and instruction. "The idea is to help elementary and secondary students see the connectivity of living and non-living things in our environment."