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Jumping on the Energy Conservation Bandwagon

On the heels of the first-ever HBS Dorms Energy Competition, the Graduate Green Living Program has rolled out its green mascot in conjunction with an energy pledge drive for the residents of Soldiers Field Park (SFP) and One Western Avenue (OWA). Starting this week, residents in these two apartment buildings will be invited to participate in an energy pledge, endeavoring to change their behavior in order to conserve energy and reduce waste.

One month ago, at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, President Bill Clinton declared, “Global warming is the only problem that has the power to fundamentally end the march of civilization as we know it, and render all the other efforts we are making irrelevant and impossible.”

In the United States, electricity and heat generation are responsible for about one third of greenhouse gas emissions. To this end, the Green Living Program embarked on a drive to promote energy conservation.

The first part of the energy conservation drive was a three-week Dorms Energy Competition which concluded last month. Morris Hall achieved the highest percentage of energy savings relative to their consumption last year. In total, all dorms were able to save around 7 percent during the competition period, with Morris achieving 23 percent savings, followed by Chase at 4 percent savings. Residents in Morris Hall received movie tickets for their effort (they were given a choice of a Finale dessert buffet or free movie tickets). Due to the interest generated by the competition, the Green Living Program has decided to keep measuring energy consumption to see which dorm uses the least electricity each month.

Following the success of the efforts in the dorms, residents at SFP and OWA will be embarking on an energy-pledge competition. The deadline for the competition is March 31. The winning building will receive renewable energy vouchers to offset 25 percent of the building’s electricity usage in 2005 through a renewable energy fund managed by the Harvard Green Campus Initiative. The energy pledge suggests small steps residents can take, not insignificant if one considers that to in order to offset the carbon dioxide generated by total energy usage at SFP and OWA in fiscal year 2005, would take the equivalent of 118,000 tree seedlings grown for ten years!

As part of the energy-pledge competition, and in celebration of St. Patrick’s Day, Green Living Program representatives will also host a Green Happy Hour at the Spangler Grille Wednesday, March 15. Residents of SFP and OWA will receive a free beer coupon in exchange for pledging to change their energy usage habits.

In addition, this week marks the launch of a mascot for the Green Living Program. Although the mascot bears some similarities to the green-suited Special Effects Character played by Ben Stiller at the Academy Awards last week, it was first conceived by HBS student, Tobias Hartmann. As part of a publicity drive for the Green Living Program, students can look for the Green Mascot around campus, engaging in environmentally sustainable activities such as recycling, reporting dripping faucets and turning off lights when not in use.

Here’s a list of small action steps residents can take in order to conserve energy:

 Use sleep-mode on computers.

 Turn off computer and monitor when not using them for two hours or more.

 Put computer and other electronic devices on a power strip, and turn them off at the strip.

 Unplug adapters and other chargers when not in use.

 Change at least two frequently used light bulbs to energy efficient, compact fluorescent ones.

 Turn off all the lights and appliances when leaving apartment.

 Run dishwasher and washing machine only with full loads.

 Wash clothes in cold or warm water instead of hot.

 Air-dry clothes whenever possible.

 Put on an extra layer of clothes or use an extra blanket instead of turning up the heat.

 Turn down the heat when leaving for a long weekend or vacation/break.

 Take public transportation instead of a cab 50 percent (or more) of the time.

 Select the most energy efficient (ENERGY STARr) appliances when making a future purchase.

 Tell family, friends and colleagues about the benefits of energy efficiency.

March 27, 2006
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