How Do We Use Energy Data?

Visualizing Energy Data

With help from a behavioral scientist, Angela Sanguinetti, we've tested different ways to visualize energy consumption data by comparing different bar charts to our map-based visualization on Campus Energy Education Dashboard (CEED).


Our research has been ongoing for several years and is published in two ACEEE summer studies. Our studies suggest map-based visualizations (like CEED) are more interesting and enjoyable for users compared to a standard bar chart. Also, people who saw the map better understood the energy use intensity (EUI) metric than those who viewed the bar chart.

Bar (alt) (2).png

Dashboard Evolution

It is our goal to display energy data in a way that helps our users better understand campus energy use. Back in Level 4, you learned how to interpret the information on the map, to understand just how much energy a building is using based on its Energy Use Intensity (EUI). We are constantly improving the Dashboard to make it fun to use and educational for the UC Davis community. Check out how CEED has evolved through the years by hovering over the timeline below.

CEED 2015.png
CEED 2015.png

What did users say about the first version of CEED?


“4-point color scale conveys green as

‘good’ and orange as ‘bad’.”

“Why is this building worse than the others?”

2015 Dashboard

This first version of CEED used colors to show energy usage across buildings, but we didn't like how it marked buildings as "good" and "bad" buildings. 

What did users say about the 2016 changes?


“[I can] begin to see why a building uses more energy than its neighbor”

"It is interesting that anyone on campus will have the ability to view data on so many different buildings across campus. It is so accessible and increases awareness of energy conservation"

2016 Dashboard

CEED 2016.png
CEED 2016.png

The map changed a lot in 2016, with colored circles sized to represent EUI instead of shading buildings. This allowed us to impart the message that building energy use depends on how it's used.

Do users understand the main message of the map?

“Laboratory buildings on campus usually have a relatively higher energy use comparing to buildings with other functions, as they require better ventilation.”

2017 Dashboard

CEED 2017.png
CEED 2017.png

In 2017 a housing category was added to the building types, along with an Energy & Water Challenge for the residence halls. We also spent a lot of time working on data quality so we could show more buildings on the map.

Users are understanding the map!


“I took away the fact that it not only depends on the size of the building but the type of building as well that accounts for just how much energy is used. Such as laboratories that may be smaller but use more energy."

2018 Dashboard

CEED 2018 alt.png
CEED 2018 alt.png

The sidebar was updated in 2018 to showcase new map interactions such as filtering by energy use intensity and switching to view annual energy consumption (not normalized by square footage like EUI).

How do users feel about the dashboard?

“You can see in real-time, what the EUI of any building on campus is. With the color coding (building type) and the size of the circle, you can quickly see how the EUI's compare.”

“UC Davis is monitoring energy use and overuse and everyone is able to easily view and understand the data.”

2019 Dashboard

CEED 2019.png
CEED 2019.png
CEED 2019.png

2019 brought more buildings have circles representing their EUI. For a building to have a EUI on the map, we need a year's worth of good quality energy consumption for electricity, chilled water, and steam. 

Let us know what you think about the "Show Green Buildings" feature!

2020 Dashboard

To draw attention to energy-saving projects completed by our energy engineers, we added a new feature to "Show Green Buildings". This feature highlights buildings where energy projects have been implemented. 

Screen Shot 2020-10-09 at 4.13.19 PM.png
Screen Shot 2020-10-09 at 4.13.19 PM.png
NEXT: How Can You
Save Energy?