GEF's SEED

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

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Go With the Flow

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Do you know how long your last shower was? Do you know how much water you used? Unfortunately, answering ‘no’ to these questions is perfectly normal. We guestimate how long we spend soaking, maybe glance at a clock or our phone on the way out. But chances are, any real concern falls by the wayside as soon as you open the door and the shock of cold air drives all other thoughts from your mind.

It’s an easy thing to let slip (especially when you don’t control your own thermostat and the heater is turned off). But since SEED introduced us to the Effergy Showertime Monitor, we’ve seen that it can be just as easy to integrate awareness into our routines.

The device is essentially a timer that can be calibrated to track the water expenditure of any shower. Once a measurement of water flow is taken using the biodegradable bag the unit provides, the data is entered into the device. We found our shower to flow at a rate of .10 gallons every 10 seconds—this equates to about 1 gallon of water for every one minute and forty seconds. From there, you decide whether to have the monitor alarm after a predetermined time, or once you reach a predetermined water limit. We set ours to a time limit of 15 minutes, but aim for 5 minute showers.

Aside from some minor fumbles with the initial calibration (which was surprisingly complex for a little gadget with only 3 buttons), we were able to install the monitor with ease. A suction cup on the back of the device keeps it securely fastened to the tile of our shower stall.

From here, SEED delivered us each a laminated spreadsheet and some dry erase markers to record the length and water usage of each of our showers. So now, the process of turning on the timer when we get in the shower, and then recording the results when we get out, has become so commonplace that we feel odd if ever we forget to do it.

But having the monitor has evoked more than just a bit of muscle memory—it’s given us a reason to be proactive in our efforts for water conservation. Having a countdown right before your eyes is a powerful reminder that while taking your time washing up may be relaxing, it doesn’t change how much water goes down the drain.

And keeping track can become like a game—a private competition to beat your own records for quickest shower. Then again, that could very well just be some of our own nerdy-ness showing through. But I digress.

We’ve certainly become more aware during our use of the Effergy Showertime Monitor; and when it comes to sustainability and environmental conservation, awareness is often half the battle.

 

P.S. We’re having an open house tomorrow: stop by and if you’re lucky, win a prize!

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