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Green Wars Kickoff

February 3, 2010 at 10:04 am
By Margaret Taylor '10

Nobody likes February, right?  Well, a few years ago a new Carleton tradition made the month a little bit more fun.  In 2006, Carleton launched Dorm Wars, which started out as a competition between the dorms on campus to reduce energy consumption in the month of February.  The month-long event has since mushroomed as other schools in the area, such as Macalester and St. Olaf, liked the idea of Dorm Wars and picked it up.  Since Dorm Wars is no longer an inter-dorm war, but an intercollegiate one, this year the name has morphed into Green Wars.

All February, we will be competing with Macalester, St. John, and St. Olaf to reduce our school’s power consumption and waste production from January’s average.  Power-saving events will be taking place all month, with one of four environmentally-minded student groups hosting each of the four weeks.  The STAs (that’s SusTainability Assistants; they’re like SWAs) have the first week, followed by MPIRG, Food Truth, and SOPE.

Carleton’s STAs held the Green Wars kickoff event Tuesday night in Upper Sayles.  They handed out no-bake cookie goodies (turning on the oven uses energy!) and informed students about ways they can cut their own power consumption.  Ryan Noe ’12 demonstrated the use of a wattmeter, which can measure the power consumption of common electric devices.  The wattmeter gave some surprising results.  For example, a hairdryer uses 1400 watts.  Compare that to 300 watts, which is the electricity pull of an entire refrigerator.  Your computer’s charger cord, even when it’s not charging your computer, uses about half a watt when plugged in.  That doesn’t sound like much, but it adds up when it’s plugged in all the time.

Arpita Bhattacharyya ‘10, STA for Memorial, provides some advice on how you can reduce the energy consumption in your own dorm:

  • Turn off the lights!
  • Take shorter showers.  It costs electricity to heat the hot water.
  • Use the stairs instead of the elevators.  The elevators in Memorial and Cassat pull one-sixth of the entire building’s energy – and that’s counting the energy use inside all of the dorm rooms.
  • Do your laundry in cold water (the “bright colors” setting).
  • Replace your incandescent light bulbs with CFLs.
  • Study in one of the common areas, like Sayles or the library.  The lights are going to be on in those buildings anyway, so they don’t have to be on in your dorm room.