About 740 students who attend Case Western Reserve University in Ohio will be returning to new living quarters this fall: “The Village at 115,” a brand new dormitory that expects to become LEED certified after its opening (as heard on WCPN this morning).

The cluster of buildings is expected to reduce annual energy consumption by 40 percent, and features a mechanism for groundwater recharge that separates stormwater from sewage. One of the more intriguing aspects is a set of monitoring systems — kiosks in each house will display realtime electricity, water, and steam use, and data will be posted online for researchers (aka parents) to access. The monitoring is intended to function as a “teaching instrument” so the students learn what habits save them energy.

It will be interesting to see what kind of social norms develop among a small community like this when energy use is monitored and made public. Unless CWRU is different from most other universities, it doesn’t charge its students piecemeal for heat, AC, water, electricity, etc. Those are common goods that no individual student has a direct financial incentive to conserve. But something tells me the social norms that develop will play a big role in the dorm’s decreased energy use.

Jamais Cascio has conveniently just posted more on LEED over at WorldChanging.