The Observer is a student-run, daily print & online newspaper serving Notre Dame, Saint Mary's & Holy Cross. Learn about us.



Green light

Ask the Greenman | Monday, September 16, 2013

Fellow Tree Huggers,
    As you all know, September’s energy championship theme is lighting which, I’m sure, made most of you feel like you could take the month off. I picture you all sitting in your dorm rooms swathed in compact fluorescent lighting thinking “This can’t apply to me. I already changed my lights,” and that is where you are wrong my friends. I need you to step things up a notch.
Most dorms on campus have the lighting infrastructure to be sustainable. If you take a walk around campus, compact fluorescent lights and motion detectors are about as universal as the squirrels and confused-looking freshmen. That’s not the problem. Sometimes I feel like our campus is a modern 13-year-old in disguise. Most 13-year-olds today are spoiled by technology. They don’t know what it was like to have a flip phone or CD player. All they know are their iPhones, which they only use to post bad twerking videos to Vine. Like America’s 13-year-olds, we already have the technology, we just need an attitude adjustment.
Twelve percent of a typical home’s electric bill can be attributed to fending off the dark. Since most of our dorms lack appliances like ovens, large refrigerators and air conditioning, you could save extra energy just living to three simple steps.
First, use task lighting (think of the Pixar lamp). Why use your overhead light to read a book when you could just use a cool clip-on book light? The overhead lighting in your room uses much more energy than your book light or even your desk light. Your overhead light is best used only to avoid tripping on your roommate’s backpack that’s left thoughtfully in the middle of the room while you were out “studying”.
Second, use more natural light. This idea is not only good for the environment, but also good for you. Studies have shown natural light can actually make you happier, so enjoy these last few days of bearable weather in “The Bend” and study outside. Open those blinds and let the sunlight shine in because as my good friend Ned Stark used to say, “Winter is coming.”
Finally, shut off the lights when you leave a public space, even if it has a motion detector. Motion detectors are like the rumble strips on the side of the highway, they are designed to prevent big problems before they happen. They are for less enlightened people than you and some have unsustainably long wait times. Trust me, it is worth flicking the switch.