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Dorm energy-saving competition to aid efficiency

Joe Trombello | Wednesday, February 4, 2004

To encourage students to increase their awareness of energy usage and conservation, members of the Students for Environmental Action will award $100 to the dorm that has the greatest reduction in its per capita energy usage.According to club co-president Virginia Kelly, the Notre Dame power plant records the amount of energy used in each building monthly. The energy used by each of Notre Dame’s 27 dorms this month will be compared with their usage in Feb. 2003. “Energy conservation is definitely not something that many college students think about simply because it doesn’t seem to be that big of an issue,” said club secretary Sarah Liu. “We hope to bring awareness on the importance of conserving energy and resources while they are still available to us.” Liu said that many college students who live in dorms do not consider the necessity of using less energy because they do not directly pay for its use.”When we live in dorms on campus, we don’t pay for utilities or electricity; therefore, there is no economical reason for us to worry about energy conservation … the only way to improve this lack of concern from students is to educate them,” she said.Kelly said that students can conserve energy in a number of ways, including turning off lights, turning their heat down a few degrees or putting their computer in standby mode when not in use.”Students can take really simple steps to reduce their energy consumption,” she said. “Hopefully, the $100 prize will encourage many students to participate in [conservation].” To coincide with the energy conservation contest, Kelly said that associate professor of geological sciences Clive Neal will present a lecture Feb. 17. Neal said that his lecture provides an opportunity to increase the amount of environmental awareness that occurs on-campus.”I think it is important to realize just how much we take for granted,” he said. “Being extravagant [with energy usage] means our children and our children’s children will have less of these important resources.”Kelly said that the club has other activities planned for the semester, including a clean-up of a section of Saint Joseph River and a panel discussion to inform students about the environmental positions of the 2004 presidential candidates. She also said that the club submitted a Freedom of Information Act request last month to the Environmental Protection Agency to determine the emission record of Notre Dame’s power plant in the last five years. This will help evaluate the extent to which the University uses energy effectively.