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Residence halls need to prove they are eco-friendly

February 27, 2008

The ECO club has made a challenge to the UW-River Falls campus. They want to create awareness about the amount of energy consumed and how it can be reduced.

There is a contest going on for all the residence halls to compete against each other. Whichever residence hall saves the most energy in the three categories of steam usage, electricity and water consumption, wins. A $250 prize will be awarded for each category and one dorm could win all three categories. Residence Life will give out the prizes, which can be used in any way, to the winning hall. In the past the prize money has generally been used to fund a party.

“Some easy ways to reduce water consumption are to take shorter showers and to wash full loads of laundry. If there isn’t a full load, get together with your roommate or friend and combine your clothes to create a full load,” Rebecca Alexander, treasurer of the ECO Club and Recyclemania Coordinator said. “Even when if it isn’t a full load a washer still uses the same amount of water as if it were.”

Reducing the amount of energy used by electricity can be effortless. It is as easy as turning off the lights and television when leaving your room. It is also important to turn off the lights in the study lounges and basements when leaving.

“The cell phone charger you have plugged into the outlet is still drawing power even when your cell phone is not charging on it; unplug appliances like hair dryers, curling irons, computers and coffee makers when they are not being used. All these are consuming energy when plugged in,” Alexander said.

“I guess a lot of people think if the television is off, it’s not using power,” Michelle Weeks, a Stratton Hall resident said. “My cell phone charger is always plugged into the wall.”

“This semester, all of the rooms in the residence halls have recycle bins to help promote recycling and conservation,” Sarah Knorr, co-president of the ECO Club said.

“With recycling bins in our rooms I recycle everything I can,” Weeks said.

This is a convenient way of being reminded of our usage. Students can also do what is called precycle. When shopping, look for products in materials and packaging that can be readily recycled. Fun packaging costs more but adds little or no value to the product, and can do considerable harm to our environment by creating more waste or waste disposal difficulties. “One of the biggest things that help to reduce steam loss is to keep your windows shut.”

Alexander said. “Students are opening windows when their rooms get too warm. If that is the case, residents should report problems to a residence hall staff member so that maintenance can be contacted to adjust the temperature.”

Most buildings have control rooms which regulate the heat. The school has submeters at each building for electricity, water and condensate (steam). The meters are read every month and the numbers are recorded. The school is able to compare a particular month to the previous year or in some cases a five-year average of the particular month. This is the means by which the contest will be measured, according to Mike Stifter, the director of facilities management on campus.

The contest lasts until the last week in March and the winning dorms will be announced during Earth Week, April 21-25.