At the beginning of this month all the dormitories competed to reduce their power intake the most. Students were helped along by the Carleton Sustainability’s website, which catalogued the progress of each hall in terms of electric and water consumption.
Other activities were also offered, such as a documentary viewing, a raffle, and even a pool party.
Many were enthused to see the progress made by Green Wars. Among them was the manager of campus sustainability and energy, Martha Larson, who praised sustainability improvements prompted by last year’s event.
“Last year Musser Hall requested that their corridor lights be turned to emergency mode during Green Wars”, she said. “This led to a permanent change when we installed timers on the corridor lights so they now always operate in a low-light mode at night.”
The snowball effect that was seen in Musser was hoped for again this year, but perhaps not met. Although some halls did successfully decrease their electricity consumption (Burton, the big winner, had a six percent decrease), many halls in fact upped their consumption.
Watson Hall was the biggest offender, increasing consumption by 4.7%. The townhouses managed to not change their consumption one decimal point, a seemingly difficult feat.
Watson resident Angely Guevara ’16 found Green Wars informative and motivating.
“The most useful aspect was the tracker, and unfortunately it felt the least promoted”, she said. “I didn’t know about it until Friday, and being from Watson, it was really eye-opening. Even if it took a ridiculous increase for me to become aware of our energy usage, Green Wars’ effort to change our habits beyond a week worked on me.”
The Halls decreased their electricity consumption on average by 0.7%, echoing the sometimes unresponsive tone of the student body.
Despite this disheartening performance, Carin Postal, a Carleton Sustainability Assistant, who helped organize the event, remained optimistic.
“It was interesting hearing feedback from people about the dimmer lights in hallways and the monitoring of food waste in the dining halls, as examples. It is exciting that people are noticing the efforts, even if they aren’t really thinking about it. This means that the changes really do affect everyone. Even if they are not personally interested in changing their behaviors...”
Another perspective on campus was more ambivalent, in part because the college is already environmentally friendly.
Mina Wolf ’16 explained this perspective this point. “I think part of the problem is that a lot of people at Carleton are already very conscious of their effect on the environment, so there aren’t all that many changes they can make,” she said.
Perhaps the toughest component of Green Wars is translating beliefs and passion into action. President Obama has pressed the issue of climate change in both of his most meaningful speeches this year, his inaugural address and state of the union.
It must be noted however, that the use of online cataloguing is a clear step towards transparency in the event. With the results being so public, hopefully Carls will be prompted into being more committed next time.
“It didn’t seem like people knew enough about it. I think it could have been more successful if it had been advertised more leading up to it, and if they had given specific instructions on simple ways to be more sustainable,” said Hallie Ojala-Barrett ’16.