Residence Ecolympics: Saving energy, building community
Houses compete to save water and energy
Ryan McNutt - March 19, 2012
The London Summer Olympics may still be a few months away, but Dal’s residences are primed for a showdown of a more sustainable sort.
This week marks the kickoff of the Ecolympics, a yearly competition between residences to determine which house can reduce its energy and water consumption the most over a two-week period.
Melanie Gillis, who lives in Howe Hall and is the Residence Sustainability Representative, explains that Dal’s Office of Sustainability conducted a baseline assessment of all residences last week. Now it’s up to each house to see how much lower they can push their consumption, with bragging rights and trophy privileges up for grabs.
“Two years ago, Gerard Hall took home the prize, but last year it was Howe Hall,” she adds. “So it’s really anyone’s game.”
In addition to the challenge itself, her team on the Green Residence Forum is organizing a series of events to help students learn more about their personal carbon footprint and what steps they can take to reduce it. There's a “Spring Into Action!” afternoon at Dal’s community garden, and an evening screening of the film Urbanized. Thursday, students will be hosting a “Tap Water Challenge” in campus dining halls to mark World Water Day, with a blind taste test between bottled and tap water.
Other events include a game of campus flashlight tag and three evenings of “phantom power” workshops next week, where students can learn just how much energy their electronic devices emit, even when they’re turned “off.” And the week will close with events to mark Earth Hour on March 31, including coffee houses in Shirreff, Gerard and Risley and an early evening film screening in Howe.
“The challenge is to make people feel a sense of ownership over where they live,” says Ms. Gillis. “It’s not just about sustainability, but community – a chance to be a part of something bigger.”
Being smart to save
It’s also about bringing people together in common spaces to share energy use. As for what students can do on their own, Ms. Gillis recommends that residents who want to help their house win the competition should take shorter showers, make sure the taps are turned all the way off, keep their electronic devices unplugged when not in use, and make sure to turn off the light when they’re leaving the room.
“You can be powerful working together as a house—as a team—and hopefully that message sticks with students when they leave residence.”
For a full list of events, visit the Sustainability News blog or join the Ecolympics Facebook event.
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