Dorms Compete to Minimize Carbon Footprint

Colgate hopes to achieve car-bon neutrality by 2019. Now, thanks to the new Building Dash-board ( colgate/#/colgate), students can compete with each other to try to achieve this goal. The dashboard provides data about electricity, wa-ter and heat energy consumption in six residence halls: Drake, Cur-tis, Stillman, Andrews, East and West Halls. The energy consump-tion can be analyzed by totals or per person, and can be restricted to a time period as short as an hour, or as long as a year. The goal of the dashboard is to influence residents’ behavior.

“[The dashboard is about] mak-ing the invisible visible. Students are competitive,” said Director of Sustainability John Pumillio.

The biggest challenge to get-ting the dashboard online was installing sub-meters in each res-idence hall. The University had already planned to install these devices regardless of the dash-board in order to monitor energy consumption in each individual building. The sub-meters should be installed in both Bryan and Cutten complexes by next year. Afterwards, the system may be expanded to other residen-tial buildings, or perhaps other buildings on campus.

The dashboard is meant to cre-ate friendly competition among the residence halls to lower en-ergy consumption. Among the six residence halls on the dashboard, West Hall has used the most water per person this semester, at 2,802 gallons, while Drake used the least, at 2,449 gallons per person. Since late August, Curtis Hall has used 461 kWh of electricity per person, while Stillman has only used about 279 kWh per person. However, even among the most energy efficient halls there is room for improvement.

“I think we use more energy than average,” Pumillio admitted.

Colgate has to clean up its act in time for this spring’s Campus Conservation Nationals in which Colgate will compete against other colleges and universities to see which is the most energy efficient. In order to win, Col-gate students will have to change some of their living habits. For example, on cold days students on lower floors of residence halls turn up their heat, causing the upper floors to get very hot. The residents of the upper floors then open their windows, literally us-ing energy to heat the outdoors. The goal of the dashboard is to make students more aware of these practices.

There are many other green ef-forts taking place on campus as well. In the spring, Colgate will participate in Recyclemania, a 10- week recycling competition be-tween hundreds of schools. Colgate has also been working with Sodexo and the Shaw Wellness Institute to put a student-created logo next to all sustainable foods in Frank Dining Hall. Some students have recently taken surveys in Frank re-garding sustainable foods and may have already noticed this logo signi-fying foods that are locally grown, healthy (as defined by the Shaw Wellness Institute and Sodexo) and certified by Fair Trade, the USDA or another third party.

Colgate may have a lot of work to do to reach carbon neutrality, but Pu-millio notes that the University is on the right track. Recently, Colgate’s re-cycling rate has increased every year, while the waste rate has decreased.

Contact Jared Golsmith at [email protected].