Energy Challenge 2012 News
On Your Mark, Get Set.... Conserve!
College Gears up for March Energy Challenge
Dickinson College Web Feature | MaryAlice Bitts Jackson | February 22, 2012
Eco Reps Elaine Yoch ’15 (left) and Heather Livingston ’13 will knock on doors this week in search of traditional light bulbs they can replace with compact-fluorescent (CFL) bulbs, like the one above. The CFL bulbs use one-fourth of the energy of a traditional bulb.
The heat is on—at appropriate levels, of course—as the campus gears up for the Dickinson Energy Challenge.
Throughout March, students, faculty and staff will strive to reduce campus electricity consumption by 10 percent, compared with March 2011 rates. If the college reaches its goal, a portion of the funds saved will be reinvested into an on-campus solar project.
Students in Adams, Drayer, Malcolm, Morgan, Witwer, McKenney, Kinser-Woodward, Davidson-Wilson, Cooper, Buchanan, Conway, Baird-McClintock, Longsdorff, Atwater and Armstrong halls will take the challenge a step further when they spar in an energy-reduction competition. The winning residence hall will capture the Dickinson Green Cup, and receive $500 to “green the lounge” in their hall.
Lindsey Lyons, assistant director of the Center for Sustainability Education (CSE), says that although a few residential buildings are not eligible for the dorm competition—either because they share an energy meter or because they also house academic departments under the same roof—all campus-community members are invited to join in the challenge. And it’s easy to get involved.
“We all can do something to help,” she says. “Small lifestyle changes—such as powering down computers at the end of a work or study session; limiting use of photocopiers, hair dryers and other heat-generating devices; and unplugging appliances when not in use—can reap big rewards.”
Let the savings begin
Twenty-two students, known as Eco Reps, will set the stage for success when they visit buildings across campus in search of incandescent light bulbs they can replace with compact-fluorescent (CFL) bulbs. A total of 220 bulbs are expected to be swapped in the days leading up to March 1. “Each CFL light bulb uses one-fourth the energy of traditional light bulbs, so the energy savings can add up quickly,” says Lyons.
On March 3, students will celebrate sustainably at an on-campus Green Dance Party. On March 21, the campus community will gather in the Dining Hall for an atmospheric—and electricity-saving—Dinner in the Dark. The challenge will end March 31 with an observance of Earth Hour, an annual event in which people around the world turn off lights and electrical devices for one hour in protest of climate change. An awards ceremony will follow, recognizing residence halls that have logged the greatest electricity reduction.
Throughout March, the student interns will monitor progress by conducting weekly meter readings on all campus buildings; results will be posted on the CSE Facebook page. They’ll also conduct black-out walks each Friday, turning off computers and lights in administrative and academic buildings.
The journey continues
The 10-percent challenge is well in line with goals achieved at other higher-ed institutions, says Lyons, noting that other schools with similar programs have reduced energy consumption by 3 to 15 percent. Still, she says, this is an ambitious undertaking, because Dickinson already operates more efficiently than many other institutions. And at those less-efficient institutions, small changes yield more dramatic results.
CSE Director Neil Leary agrees, noting that because energy efficiency has been a priority for years at Dickinson, energy use per student and per square foot of built space is low, compared to that at other residential colleges. But there is still much work to be done, Leary stresses, in part because of energy requirements created by recent building and renovation projects on campus and plans to add new buildings in the future.
“How, then, will we succeed in reducing emissions of greenhouse gases 25 percent, which is our target in order to be carbon-neutral by 2020?” he asks. “The first step is to change our behaviors to use less energy. That’s what the Energy Challenge is about.”
Follow the progress of Dickinson’s Energy Challenge, and share your own efforts, on Twitter with the hashtag #DsonSustainability.