Greensense challenges students to reduce energy use in dorms

Many dorms on campus have been darker since Sept. 10, since the beginning of the annual Fall Energy Challenge, a campus-wide event sponsored by Buildings and Grounds (B&G) and Greensense.

The contest will last for three months of the fall semester. At the end of each month, Greensense will acquire the information about the amount of energy used by every dorm and co-op and compare the information to last year’s numbers. The students of the particular dorm who have decreased their energy consumption the most will be rewarded with a pizza party.

In the summer, Greensense met and decided that their focus for the fall would be energy. Instead of making the Fall Energy Challenge a one-month competition involving only freshman dorms as in the past, the members decided to involve more of the College community.

Chris Warshaw ’02 and Carlos Silva ’04 are organizing the event for Greensense. They both consider the Fall Energy Challenge a small-scale event that will lead to more comprehensive projects with the College. “The idea behind the Fall Energy Challenge is to draw people’s attention to issues and change their habits when they just get to school. It is also a method of looking into the ways the College uses energy so that we can work with the College in bigger ways to make things more efficient,” said Warshaw.

Last year the College spent $1,599,642 on 21,738,100 kilowatt hours worth of energy, according to Don Clark, Mechanical Traits Supervisor at B&G. Warshaw and Silva are already doing small things to try to decrease these numbers. They plan on posting fliers and placing stickers on light switches throughout the College that will list ways in which students can save energy. “We want to dispel common myths, such as the belief that turning the computer on and off is a waste of energy,” Silva said. “Furthermore, we want to use the information gathered from the competition to somehow convert the large numbers to the amount of energy used and carbon dioxide released into the atmosphere per person.”

Students have largely praised the project. Courtney Gordon ’05 said, “the Fall Energy Challenge is a good opportunity for the campus to become aware of environmental problems and to get an idea of just how much energy is wasted by the College.”

In terms of the more wide-scale projects, Silva and Warshaw discussed working with the architects hired by the College to ensure that new building structures are energy efficient. Greensense has already had the opportunity to give its opinion of parts of the future Baxter renovations. In addition, the group wants to connect the College to larger global issues such as climate change by increasing overall awareness.

For now, members of the College community can continue to do simple things like turning off the light in the bathroom or shutting down the computer before they go to bed. Eric Lara ’05 of Morgan East said “I’ve been shutting off lights throughout the dorm because I see the Fall Energy Challenge as another way of displaying entry unity.”