WWU's GEF Sustainable Energy Efficient Dorm Pilot

Sustainable Transportation

This weeks Eco-Challenge was inspired by the Go For the Green competition. Residences can receive points for their hall by attending Eco Rep events and challenging themselves to reduce their water, waste, electricity, and natural gas.

Transport donuts                                      Transp Peopple

This week, I hosted an Eco Rep event about sustainable transportation. Western students are fortunate to have many alternative transportation choices including: train, bolt bus, city bus, late night shuttles, well-established bike lanes, and Zipcar. Over 3,000 Western students take their cars to campus, a car may seem like a necessity, and in some cases it is, but given the variety of options to walk, bike, and ride, a car can be used sparingly. In addition to hosting an event, I earned points for my hall by submitting pictures to the Office of Sustainability (for their Eco Challenges Campaign) of ways I reduce waste. The first step is awareness, since it is easy to reuse containers, compost, and unplug devices. Gradually, with awareness, one will form new habits that uphold the three pillars of sustainability: health, economy, and the environment.

Help spread the word, choose Sustainable Transportation!

– Meriel


Click On, Click Off

For this week’s Eco Challenge, we decided I would give Meriel’s goal from last week a try so we could see how my cell phone battery stacked up to hers.

First and foremost, I learned tracking your phone usage is hard. Thankfully, I discovered a nifty little function in my phone’s settings that kept track of how long it had been since my phone was last fully charged, and how much of that time was spent actively using the device.

By this calculation, after a day of fairly heavy use, my cell phone battery would reach 0% after about 5 hours and 20 minutes of use. However, of any given day I may only use my phone actively for a couple hours, leaving me with over half my charge remaining at the end of the day. Other times (especially when I’m making a lot of phone calls or tweeting for my job at the paper) I may need to charge my phone when I get back from class to avoid it dying prematurely.

I also determined it would take 2 hours and 15 minutes for my phone to reach a 100% charge if the battery were to run completely dry. I did this by plugging in my phone, timing how long it took for the battery charge to increase by 1%, multiplying that number by 100, then dividing the result by 60 to get the sum in hours.

I was surprised at how little time it actually took to charge my phone. I usually plug my phone in at night before I go to bed, and am usually asleep by the time it finishes, so I suppose I simply began to associate the process with an all-night timeline. In truth, I realized I could get a full charge by plugging my phone into one of our Belkin outlet timers, flipping the switch to the 3 hour setting, and leaving it be. Even when the timer runs out and the outlet turns off, my phone wouldn’t lose much charge since I wouldn’t be actively using it.

It’s such a simple change, but I know I would have never done the calculations to bring it to my attention without this challenge as a motivator.


Thanks for reading, and I’ll catch you guys next time,




Todays security blanket, our cell phone, rules many of our lives and therefor needs to be charged and functioning on a day to day basis. Charging phones and computers can seem like an annoyance, possibly having to wait for them to be done and then un plugging it to conserve energy can seem even worse. That is why we have decided to focus on this Eco Challenge for two weeks instead of one. Keeping items plugged in is one of the biggest energy wasting habits people develop. and electronic chargers make a big impact.

This is why the SEED room has implemented power strips that can turn on and off with a portable switch that Meriel and Libby have mounted on their wall by their light switch. This, along with their outlet timers have reduced their vampire energy greatly.

Join us in our Eco Challenge movement! Choose to save energy in small ways all day and make a big impact.



Power Smarter

BelkinConserve_strip            For the same price as an X-Pass at the Wade King Student Recreation Center, a Belkin power strip offers a more versatile way to utilize energy. The Belkin Conserve Switch AV  strip comes with an impressive ten outlets—leaving plenty of room for your computer, phone charger, desk lamp, and any other wired devices you like to keep close-at-hand. But its size isn’t what makes the Belkin strip so incredible, it’s how that size is compensated for.

What’s the biggest deterrent of power strips that feature as many plugs as the Belkin? Energy consumption. While having all your electronics hooked up in one place is convenient, you may wince when you think of how much electricity it saps up during idle time. Further, not every power strip is easy to get to, so the motivation to unplug your devices when not in use decreases even more.

Enter the Belkin solution.

Eight of the strip’s ten available outlets are controllable with the use of a wireless remote switch, which ceases power to those plugs when desired. The remaining two outlets remain charged for any devices that require continuous power.

The wireless remotes have a range of up to sixty feet and can be mounted on a wall or remain free-standing. We have two power strips in our room, and each power strip has it’s own remote.   We chose to mount our remotes in different places: one beside a desk, the other below the bedroom light switches. It was nice to have the option to decide where our remotes would be most effective for our own personal needs (plus the opportunity to draw Xs on the walls where we wanted the devices to be was way too much fun). The customization made the introduction to Belkin easy and exciting.

The only challenge that comes with the Belkin system is training yourself to use it. When you’ve gone your whole life without thinking about turning off your outlets, getting into the habit can be hard. But we are fortunate in that Belkin offers one of the greatest incentives for our memories—a simple addition to our routines that provides a foundation for continued energy consciousness.