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Energy audits increase efficiency

Aaron Steiner | Monday, November 17, 2008

Over 75 student volunteers canvassed Notre Dame’s campus Sunday in attempts to increase energy efficiency and decrease energy consumption.

As part of the program, the volunteers distributed about 3,000 compact fluorescent light bulbs in dorms.

Lourdes Long, president of GreeND, said GreeND and the Office of Sustainability coordinated the energy audits and light bulb exchange, with help from sustainability commissioners from dorms.

“We probably got around 3,000 light bulbs out there … and we went to about 1,000 rooms,” Long said. Long said that each dorm had about three or four volunteers participate, and students visited 29 of Notre Dame’s 30 residence halls.

The event comes at the beginning of NBC Universal’s Green Week, which will feature sustainability initiatives at Notre Dame and Syracuse during the television broadcast of the football game Saturday.

Sunday, volunteers exchanged light bulbs and performed energy audits in dorms on campus. Long said one of the primary parts of the audit was to check if thermostats were functioning properly.

“The bottom line is, if it’s not working, it needs to be reported,” Long said.

Senior Carol Matasci volunteered to help check dorm rooms Sunday night. Matasci said that between her and a few other Farley residents, they knocked on every door in Farley to offer light bulbs and perform an energy audit.

Matasci said students were receptive to the light bulbs and receiving tips on saving energy.

“Some people already had [the fluorescent light bulbs], but the people who didn’t were happy to take the new ones,” she said.

Matasci said she asked residents about their thermostats, and reported that she alone had been to 10 rooms with thermostat issues that needed to be reported.

“We also asked about the computer power settings, because a lot of people don’t have their computers on the energy saving setting,” she said.

She also asked students if their windows closed properly and if they had recycling bins, which all residents did, Matasci said.

Matasci said students were concerned about energy consumption, “but they haven’t necessarily taken the steps yet, or a lot people didn’t know how to change the power settings on their computer,” she said.

The light bulbs used in the exchange were purchased by the Office of Sustainability with money from a $2 million green loan fund. Long said the investment would see savings that exceeded the cost within a year.

“That’s a pretty quick return on an investment,” Long said.

NBC challenged both Notre Dame and Syracuse to get as many people as possible to reduce carbon using the Web site Carbon Rally, by joining and taking challenges to reduce carbon emissions.

As of Sunday evening, the “Fighting Irish” team had 1,034 members, far exceeding Syracuse’s “Be Orange Think Green” team with 394 members. The team with the most members wins $10,000.

Long said students can sign up on the Office of Sustainability’s Web site.

NBC will also be sponsoring an ad competition between Notre Dame and Syracuse. Students from both schools can create 30-second films about sustainability issues, and the winning ad will be broadcast during the Notre Dame-Syracuse football game.

Also as a part of Green Week, the game itself will be carbon neutral – a first for the University.

Long said emissions from fan travel, team travel and any activities at the stadium on game the day will all be taken into account in determining how much carbon needs to be offset in order to have a carbon neutral game.

Emma Driscoll contributed to this article.