4 Ways That College Universities are Becoming More Energy Efficient
College campuses are powerhouses of energy consumption, with 24-hour libraries and cafes constantly using electricity, large buildings blasting heat and cooling, and students often oblivious to their energy use during 3 AM study sessions or the occasional all-nighter. As a result, college campuses have the potential to be notorious energy wasters. However many of them, and many student groups on campuses across the country, have taken initiative to make colleges more efficient. And with Spring just around the corner, it’s a great time to get involved:
1. NWF Campus Ecology
The National Wildlife Foundation has been a significant player in helping college students get information about making their campuses more efficient. With their Campus Ecology Resource Center, students can utilize many tools such as case studies in various efficiency initiatives that have taken place throughout various universities, where students can see what steps they took and how successful they were, to know what concepts may work for their own campuses. Through Campus Ecology, students have the chance to become Fellows through their program and undertake research opportunities, and NWF keeps track of their former fellows’ progress into careers in energy. Through 2000 to 2009, 88 of the 131 fellows who participated moved into energy-related careers. More about NWF’s Campus Ecology Resource Center can be found on their website.
2. Green Campus Initiatives
Green Campus Initiatives are beginning to expand and help focus on efficiency at universities. GCIs are student groups that focus on different events to promote efficiency to other students, as well as engaging with their local Student Government Association to various programs. Some such projects are Bike-Friendly Campus initiatives, programs that create notebooks from recycled paper, and energy audits that calculate the waste level of the campus and how it can run more efficiently. More about these programs can be found on respective college websites, and if your campus does not yet have a GCI, you can always start one!
3. Campus Conservation Nationals
Annually, schools across the country participate in Campus Conservation Nationals, a two or three-week program that encourages companies to lessen their electricity consumption for that period, and in turn, be more efficient. This year the program began February 1st, and lasts until April. While the deadline to register this year has passed, you can see if your school plans to participate, and if not, encourage them to do so next year. Besides the energy benefits that would come from participating, the school can also gain positive press coverage and build an environment that encourages students to be efficient in how they use energy. In 2015, 125 schools and 345,000 students and staff participated. As an outcome, they saved 394,000 gallons of water and 1.9 mill kWh of electricity, which equaled a savings of $180,000. More about the programs can be found on their website.
4. Stanford Energy System Innovation
Taking charge to the front of campus efficiency, Stanford has begun its own energy innovation program, Stanford Energy System Innovation (SESI), with a focus on making new buildings energy efficient and improving the efficiency of existing buildings while creating an efficient system for the entire campus. This system is estimated to reduce Stanford’s emissions by an impressive 68%, and they seek to continue improving it. The project was even awarded a Visionary Award by the Alliance at last year’s Energy Efficiency Global Forum (EE Global)! More about SESI and its progress can be found on Stanford’s website.
Each of these initiatives is helping to improve our college campuses through efficiency and student engagement. Whether you’re a college senior or an incoming freshman, there are several ways you can help your future alma mater to lead the way to be a more energy efficient campus!