Students revamp Conservation Challenge

This October marks the fifth-annual October Energy Challenge, a four-week period dedicated to reducing energy consumption. In the past the initiative has focused exclusively on reducing electrical consumption, but this year the Conservation Challenge also includes campaigns to increase awareness for composting and reducing the number of plastic water bottles consumed. The challenge runs through Friday, Nov. 7.

The initiative to reduce energy consumption has been effective in the past explained Casey Bradshaw-Wilson,  visiting assistant professor of environmental science.

“In the past it has reduced energy use by 10 percent,” said Wilson.

Wilson explained that the effort to save energy saves the college money during the month of October. The money is then given back to the environmental science department to be used to fund sustainability efforts for the college.

“In the past the money has gone to putting up solar panels,” said Wilson.

Solar panels have been added to Steffee Hall over the past few years. The building has 24 total panels, with the first six installed in 2011. This year, students will decide how the savings are to be spent. Some of the proposed projects include more water bottle refill stations and automatic lights in residence halls.

Multiple Environmental Science 110 classes are directly involved in the Conservation Challenge. Students are broken up into groups, each taking a specific area of conservation. The students can choose either electric, compost or plastic water bottle consumption. The groups then puts together a campaign to increase awareness for the challenge.

Ian Carbone, assistant professor of environmental science, expressed his satisfaction with the effort that has been put forth by students.

“I was at the campus center on Monday and one of our groups was doing a puppet show focusing on composting, and they were pulling in a lot of people which was pretty cool,” said Carbone.

Carbone also expressed his excitement, not only with the students participating in the project, but the receptivity of the student body.

“I feel like people have a good attitude and are open to receiving information,” said Carbone.

Carbone emphasized that they wish to avoid badgering students with information so that they continue to be receptive to the message.

“The emphasis we put on fun theory helps, people don’t feel like they are being nagged,” explained Carbone.

Though the initiative has been going well, some students admitted that it could go further. Madeleine Zimmermann, ’18, who is currently working on a project that is part of the initiative, believes the campaign could be more successful if more people, including professors were talking about it outside of the environmental science department.

“A lot of the signs and stuff are in the ES building, and the people in the ES building are not the ones who need to know,” said Zimmermann.

Students for Environmental Action have been regularly involved in the Conservation Challenge in addition to the environmental science department.

SEA has organized initiatives such as the Do it in the Dark campaign, which included handing out glow-in-the-dark condoms as a part of an effort to raise awareness for energy conservation. SEA also helped to raise awareness for the Fall Break Shutdown where students were encouraged to unplug their appliances while they were away on break to reduce energy consumption.

Maggie Dugan, ’18, a member of SEA, expressed her satisfaction with the initiatives put forth by the students of the ES 110 classes, stating that she feels they see it as more than just a class assignment.

“I think the group of ES kids who have been tabling in the campus center have been pretty outgoing and creative. To me it seems pretty well received. I think people here are generally more intuitive about it,” said Dugan.

The challenge still has one week to reach its anticipated goal of saving 10 percent in energy costs, the average goal and achievement in previous years.

“As of last week we were only at six percent,” said Wilson.