Students live in efficient resident hall - The Western Front: News

Students live in efficient resident hall

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Posted: Tuesday, April 22, 2014 8:42 am

In honor of Earth Day, two Western students tabled Saturday, April 19, showing off their eco-friendly resident hall.

Western’s first Sustainable Energy Efficient Dorm (SEED) monitors energy consumption and water use as part of a pilot project funded by the Green Energy Fee Grant Program. The results from this project could influence sustainable choices in other residence halls. 

Western junior Libby Keller and sophomore Jacquelyn Stenman were asked in summer 2013 to participate in the project. 

The Buchanan Towers Discovery Days room, where both Keller and Stenman live, was chosen as the location for the SEED pilot project. Students occupying these rooms agree to show their rooms to prospective freshman and their families in exchange for reduced room cost. 

During winter break, the GEF program outfitted the room with LED lighting, an Energy Star energy efficient refrigerator, a shower flow meter, energy meters, a low-flow toilet and low-flow faucets. 

“The goal for the project is to test out sustainable fixtures and appliances to educate students and the campus community about personal energy and water use and to act as a trial space for new energy-saving technologies,” said GEF Program Coordinator Regan Clover.

Keller and Stenman were tasked with recording their energy consumption and water usage using the monitors provided including an Efergy energy monitor, which records all electricity use in the room, and a flow meter that tracks shower duration and gallons of water used.

“It’s been a huge self-awareness thing having all of these different monitors around us,” Keller said. “You start to think more about the repercussions — each light that you leave on adds up eventually.” 

A program on Keller’s computer shows daily and monthly energy use with the data compiled from the energy monitors. Both students are now able to see what appliances use more energy and can gauge where they need to cut back.

“We used to have our microwave plugged in all the time so we could use the clock for it,” Keller said. “But once we started actually monitoring, we saw how much energy it was taking.” 

Keller and Stenman now have their microwave plugged into a Belkin Conserve Socket power-saving device. The device prevents energy output when appliances plugged into it are not in use.

Since the start of data collection in January, Keller and Stenman have consumed 199 kilo-watt hours worth of energy totaling $15.22 in expenses as of Wednesday, April 16. 

The two are projected to consume 737 kilo-watt hours this year, generating a total of $54.75 in energy expenses.

On the blog, Keller and Stenman show how they are monitoring their energy consumption, how they are reducing it and how readers can make a change in their energy use habits. 

The Green Energy Fee is a student-initiated, quarterly fee paid by all Western students to reduce the campus’ environmental impact and engage the campus community in environmental awareness. 

The GEF Program sets aside approximately $300,000 annually for the GEF Grant Program. Each Western Student pays $0.70 per credit up to a maximum of $7.00 per quarter toward the GEF, according to the Green Energy Fee Grant Program.

A low-flow shower head still needs to be installed in the room, leaving the total cost of the project unknown. But GEF Program Coordinator Regan Clover said the project was awarded $9,456. 

The residents will compile qualitative and quantitative feedback about the sustainable alterations, and after two years, the ResRAP will present the information to the University Residences. 

The Discovery Days showroom is open to visitors from 3-5 p.m. on Fridays, in Buchanan Towers 514, including an open house showing on April 25. 

Visit GEF's SEED blog here.

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