RHA and GreenGW work to conserve energy

GreenGW and the Residence Hall Association organized a contest this month to encourage students to conserve energy, but only a small amount of students are competing.

More than a month has past in the Eco-Challenge and a few dozen students are competing to reduce residence hall water and electricity usage and to promote “the conservation message within their residence halls,” the contest organizers said.

“All it really requires is that when you leave your room, turn off the lights, or don’t leave the water running when you’re not using it,” said freshman Jessica Yager, one of the contest’s organizers. “And that’s stuff that most students know to do, or do anyway regardless of whether they’re signing up.”

Freshman Mary LeMaster said she heard about the Eco-Challenge, which will conclude April 15, but is unable to participate due to her busy schedule.

“Actually, I care about it, but I don’t have time . I think (it could be successful) if you can get people to participate and they’re not lazy like I am,” she said.

Junior Ashley Mergen said she cares about conservation, but did not sign up for the Eco-Challenge. She said she probably received a mass e-mail about the competition.

“Do I open them? No,” she said. “I think this is a good way to think about conserving energy but . I think they need to do a little better on the advertising.”

Students that are not signed up for the Eco-Challenge can still make a difference, Yager said.

“I really do (think it makes a difference, because it only takes those few people to start it up, that gets a bunch of people who want to do it,” she said.

Junior Ivey Wohlfeld, executive director of GreenGW, said while many students may not be signed up for the Eco-Challenge, the students who are registered can make a difference if they lead by example. She said the GreenGW scholar’s village townhouse exemplifies how students can diligently conserve as much as possible.

“(M)embers of Green GW have been monitoring their waste, water and energy consumption as well as other practices to lead a more sustainable lifestyle,” Wohlfeld wrote in an e-mail. “The residents have seen the numbers from the past two year’s residents to compare themselves.”

She added, “Caring for the environment and sustainability has become a topic of concern globally. People everywhere are implementing more sustainable practices in their home or office. Sustainability and conservation are important to GW, as this past fall, (University) President Knapp created the Presidential Task Force on Sustainability.”

University spokesperson Michelle Sherrard said GW is constantly working to reduce its energy consumption and encourage any student efforts to aid in campus sustainability.

“GW students care about stewardship of the environment and doing their part to conserve resources for future generations,” she said. “Our experience over the years finds that GW students are typically more interested and committed to societal concerns like energy conservation and environmental issues than students at other universities.”

Ultimately, the goals of the Eco-Challenge are simple, Yager said.

“We hope to help educate some of the students,” she said. “A lot of people don’t know that when you leave your cell phone charger plugged in, even when your cell phone’s not plugged into it, it still takes electricity. So unplugging that or unplugging a lamp that you’re not using, that can help so much.”

Andrew Ramonas contributed to this report.

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