Oct 29, 2008 - Claremont, Calif. -
The contest challenges residents in HMC’s eight dorms to reduce power utilization as much as possible. The dorm with the lowest energy usage at the end of the month will receive $500; second place garners $300, while the third-place winner takes home a $200 prize.
“This competition is important because it motivates students to conserve energy and in doing so realize that they can truly have an impact on the school's carbon footprint,” said Rob Best ’10, co-president of ESW/MOSS, a student group that works to make the campus more environmentally friendly and raise awareness about environmental issues. “By rewarding reductions and publicizing the amount by which each dorm succeeded in lowering their energy, we hope that students will understand that if everyone works together the energy savings can be substantial.”
Though energy conservation competitions between dorms are nothing new—Southern California Edison (SCE) has been supporting them on campuses for several years now—this is the first time HMC dorms’ power usage has been tracked and displayed for the entire college community to see.
A television monitor tracking real-time power utilization in the outer dorms—Sontag, Case, Linde and Atwood—is currently on display in the Hoch-Shanahan Dining Commons.
The metering data comes from a new wireless technology developed by Rhizome Systems, a single-source supplier of low-cost utility monitoring devices and systems operated by HMC's Joseph King, professor of engineering, and students Ben Margolis ’10, Matt Jeffryes ’08, Bart Oegma ’07 and Josiah Larsen '07.
Sontag and Linde are also duplicately being monitored by the Richards Zeta Mediator Package, a commercially tested and available system, as a way to test the viability of the Rhizome system.
The energy usage in the inner four dorms—North, South, East and West—is being gauged using the totals from SCE’s analog meters.
Funding ran out before Rhizome monitors could be built and installed for these residence halls. But it is possible that “more funding will be forthcoming pending the results of the comparison of the two monitoring systems,” explained Best.
“It’s nice for us to get technology involved in a project like this,” said Guy Gerbick, interim vice president and dean of students. “And this has been a great collaboration between ESW/MOSS, ASHMC [the associated student body], professors Joe King and Dick Haskel [physics], and the Dean of Students Office.”
At the start of the contest, ESW/MOSS e-mailed a list of helpful conservation tips to all HMC students.
These include: setting computers to sleep mode, turning off lights whenever possible, washing clothes in cold water, opening blinds during the day for natural lighting and unplugging cell phone and camera chargers from the wall when not in use, among others.
In addition—through the collaborative efforts of ESW/MOSS, the Dean of Students Office and the Facilities and Maintenance Office—all first-year HMC students receive compact fluorescent light bulbs for their dorms. These use significantly lower energy than incandescent bulbs. Other students may trade in their incandescent bulbs for fluorescent ones as well.
“Many of the topics on global warming and sustainability have this stigma of colossal undertaking,” said Dmitri Skjorshammer ’11, an ESW/MOSS member who helped secure funds for the television in the dining hall displaying power usage. “People think, ‘How can I, one individual, stop global warming? It is out of my reach.’ In order to move toward a sustainable future, we must first realize that our lifestyles are contributing considerably to global warming.”
The top three most energy-conscious dorms will be announced at a final ceremony Nov. 3 at 5 p.m. in the dining hall. As part of the grand finale, Gene Rodrigues, SCE director of energy efficiency, will speak to the community.
“Studies have shown that informing people of their energy use can lead to reductions of up to 20 to 30 percent in how much they consume,” said Best. “We anticipate that some of the habits learned by students this month will carry over into the future.”