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Welsh Family wins contest

Joe Trombello | Tuesday, March 23, 2004

In the dorm energy conservation contest held last month sponsored by the Students for Environmental Action, Welsh Family Hall reduced their total energy output by 8,310 kilowatt-hours as compared to February 2003. This was enough to secure the dorm first place and a $100 cash prize, according to club co-president Virginia Kelly.

Kelly said the total amount of energy reduction by all dorms was nearly 42,000 kilowatt-hours, an amount she called “pretty significant.”

Badin and McGlinn took second and third places respectively. Dorms were judged on the total amount of energy reduced last month as compared to February 2003. Kelly said the club had originally planned to judge the winners based on per capita energy consumption, but said that these figures were not provided by the Notre Dame Power Plant.

Some dorms experienced an increase in energy consumption, a factor that Kelly attributed to a variety of factors. Differences in energy consumption habits of people who reside in each dorm and dorms that might have increased the number of residents could not be directly assessed by the contests. Overall, however, Kelly said that she was very pleased with the student response to the contest.

“I hope students just learned to be aware of [the energy that they are] using … and the simple things that are really painless to decrease energy consumption,” she said.

Kelly said she heard through word of mouth that some dorms were making a particular push to notify residents, including providing information about the contest in their stall notes and getting the word out to other residents in their sections.

Chau Nguyen, the environmental commissioner from Welsh Family Hall, said that she and other residents specifically pushed energy conservation for the contest. Although she said she continuously promoted conservation by making signs to remind residents of ways to reduce their energy use, she said she made a special effort in February.

“We really emphasized it,” Nguyen said.

Nguyen notified residents of the contest through hall council and also encouraged residents at the meeting to spread the word to other people in their sections. She made signs and even placed index cards on radios in each section’s restroom to remind residents to turn off their radios when they were done using them.

“I feel like there is always something you can do to improve,” she said. “The little things will help make a difference.”

Nguyen said dorm residents frequently would leave radios, lights and their computers on when not in use, actions that she tried to encourage residents to reduce. Nguyen was surprised, but pleased, that her dorm won the contest.

“I’m still really surprised and proud,” she said. “I just [didn’t] think we’d make that big of a difference in one month and conserve that much energy.”

Nguyen said the money would be put back into the environmental committee and would possibly be used to partially fund the events they have planned for Earth Day. She said that as a freshman, she strove to become active in campus life and believes that serving as her dorm’s environmental commissioner was a good way to get involved.

“I always wanted to be involved [and] do something in the dorm,” she said. “I wanted to be more aware of it [energy conservation] for myself and thought it [being environmental commissioner] was a good way to be more active,” she said.

The club has several events planned for the remainder of the semester, including a panel discussion on the environmental policies of the 2004 presidential candidates that will probably occur on Earth Day, April 22, as well as a neighborhood clean-up and tree-planting day that will probably occur in late April.

Matthew Smedberg also contributed to this article.