Residence halls unite to certify students in sustainable living - The Western Front: News

Residence halls unite to certify students in sustainable living

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Posted: Friday, February 7, 2014 8:25 am

Students living in Western’s residence halls are encouraged to time showers, measure electricity use and compost as part of a program to see if on-campus living is sustainable.

Last year, the survey revealed most students — more than 95 percent — turn off their lights, only wash full loads of laundry and sort waste properly. However, less than 60 percent look to purchase organic food, use rechargeable batteries and replace incandescent bulbs in lamps with compact fluorescent or LED bulbs, according to the survey results.

The survey is in its second year and the Residents’ Resource Awareness Program has organized a certification program for students living in the dorms called the Green Residence Certification, or GRC. 

Through the GRC Application, the GRC recognizes students who work to live sustainably in the dorms based on their water use, electricity use and other similar factors, according to its website.

“Some of the results we got were like, ‘100 percent of residents are making a conscious effort to turn off lights,” said Kendra Krantz, the coordinator of the Residents’ Resource Awareness Program.

On the other hand, a small percentage of students were not unplugging their electrical appliances, nor were they interested in doing so during the weekend or a holiday break, she said. 

The survey asked students to gauge their lifestyle sustainably. The questions ranged from, “Do you take less than 10-minute showers?” to “Do you only eat organically grown food or grass-fed animals?” GRC Assistant Samuel Geller said.

Last year’s statistics formed the baseline of comparison for this year. People can apply this month to receive a certification level, on the ResREP website under the GRC tab, Geller said. 

Depending on how sustainable a student is living, he or she is ranked from bronze all the way to emerald. 

Bronze indicates a student needs improvement in the general conservation of energy, such as turning off lights more often. A silver certification is intermediate; meaning the student often thinks green but could always improve habits. Gold indicates the student actively practices the survey’s standards on how to be sustainable.

Students focused on long-term environmental improvements eat local, grass-fed and sustainably grown food. Emerald certifications are given to students who live sustainably and also encourage others to repurpose items by upcycling — taking old items and turning them into products of higher quality.

Erin McQuin, a Fairhaven freshman, unplugs her electronics and limits how long her showers are. 

She also composts, recycles and tries to eat organically grown food when it’s affordable, McQuin said.

The GRC’s goal this year is to re-implement the application to a larger audience on campus to solve conservation problems students encounter on campus, she said. 

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