Students cut dorm energy use

Students have used 12.7 percent less electricity in residence halls since September compared to the same time last year, organizers of a University-wide conservation contest said.

Halfway through the University’s “Eco-Challenge,” which runs through April, the University is reporting that residence halls are making significant progress reducing their energy use.

“It’s excellent news and especially because it is based off what students are doing themselves,” said Executive Vice President and Lou Katz, who oversees GW’s Office of Sustainability. “[It] shows how committed students are to sustainability. I think it’s a very positive sign and ultimately it will save the institution a lot of money.”

He added, “This kind of reduction at the individual level is a meaningful number. Coupled with all the additional efforts, this is another signal that students are committed to overall sustainability effort.”

Katz said he hopes that students will be inspired by the successful first half of the “Eco-Challenge” and encourage their friends and neighbors to conserve as well.

“It becomes infectious in a positive way,” Katz said.

The Green Living and Learning Community in Building JJ has been a leader in the challenge, reducing their electricity consumption by more than 50 percent. Other top electricity conserving halls were Guthridge, 2206 F Street and Francis Scott Key residence halls.

“It’s such great news,” said Kelsey O’Boyle, a resident of Building JJ. “When we were planning this LLC, we didn’t just plan it for us, we wanted to spread green living to the rest of the campus. In the past few years, GW has not been so green, but GW has been very cooperative recently.”

Building JJ features motion-sensor lights in the hallways, energy-efficient refrigerators, and low-flow toilets and showerheads.

Green GW, a student organization, also assisted the University in their goal to reduce electricity consumption, hosting light bulb trade-ins in the residence halls for students to trade their fluorescent light bulbs for more eco-conscious incandescent bulbs.

“We would like to think that the trade-ins have played a role in the decrease in the University’s consumption,” said Evelin Ip, director of communications for Green GW.

Ip said, “If anything, students are starting to realize that simple things, such as choosing a more efficient light bulb, can really make a difference and cut costs and energy.”

But there is still room for improvement, student leaders for the movement said.

Overall water consumption is still up by 0.4 percent per person and students have been reminded to take shorter showers and report leaks to FIXit and Residential Property Management quickly to conserve water.

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