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


Unplug Before You Unwind

ImageWhen you head out for spring break, chances are you don’t take everything with you—because, like it or not, spring quarter is just around the corner. But you may be leaving behind more than you realize.

Standby power—or vampire energy, if you prefer something a little closer to Twilight—is the energy taken in by electric devices even when their primary functions are not actively running. And while standby power is a phenomenon that easily attributed to small items like computers, lamps, and cell phone chargers; it is often forgotten that this phantom energy also lurks within devices we don’t regularly turn off.

Many of these are kitchen appliances. Think about it: your microwave, coffee maker, refrigerator, and any other gadgets you have are all electronic. And while their regular use usually dictates continuous power flow, extended stretches of disuse do not. So it would seem a logical solution to unplug the lot.

It may seem inconvenient, but taking the time to clean out and unplug your fridge is well worth the effort. And let’s be honest; most college fridges are miniature, and those that aren’t, are probably divided between roommates. So if you just make a conscious effort during finals week to eat the food you’ve got, nothing will go to waste and you can give your fridge a spring break of its own.

Steps to Achieve Fridge Independence:

  1. Remove all food: eat it, take it, share it, compost it.
  2. Unplug fridge and promptly stuff fluffy towels in areas in which moisture will accumulate: let defrost overnight.
  3. Wipe down any remaining moisture on or around fridge.
  4. Voila! Just plug back in when you return.

words not seen: you’ve just discovered a SEED Easter egg! Congratulations.  Formatting is.

What SEED has taught us this quarter—primarily through the use of the Efergy Monitor, is that even one plug makes a difference. We’ve seen firsthand that a small fraction of energy is always being consumed by devices on standby. And when you consider their cumulative presence on the scale of a university campus, these small fractions quickly add up to a very large whole.

But that doesn’t have to happen. If we all take the initiative to unplug our devices before we unplug ourselves for vacation, together we can move toward ensuring bright, sustainable spring breaks for generations to come.

Wishing you all the best in health and happiness on your breaks,

See you in spring quarter,

Libby & Jacquelyn

Cooling Down


*Photos not scaled*

Having a full-sized fridge at college is a luxury in-and-of itself—it’s much easier to keep that take-out dining hall food fresh. But when you take a look at the differences between our previous 1999 Kenmore refrigerator with our new Electrolux model; well, there’s hardly a comparison.

In addition to its sleek, modern facade, our new fridge sports an internal light that is less harsh on the eyes, while still powerful enough to keep you from fumbling for that midnight snack.

Despite being slightly smaller in capacity than our previous fridge, the Electrolux still offers more than enough room. Both the refrigeration and freezer sections have temperature control systems that are steady and reliable.

But every appliance comes with its quirks. Ours just happens to be an occasional sound eerily reminiscent of the chickens that populate the Outback Farm just north of Buchanan Towers. The “chicken noise”, as we like to call it, comes sporadically and without any great disruption to our daily routines. More than anything, it serves as an excellent conversation piece with guests.

While it may let out the occasional squawk, the Electrolux has important things to say.  Its energy savings easily puts Kenmore to shame. The old model was estimated to use approximately 654 kilowatt-hours of electricity per year while the new fridge uses an estimated 387 kWh. The estimated savings of the new fridge is fourteen dollars each year.

It’s incredible to think that two appliances with the same purpose can be so different in their executions. And when thinking in terms of entire dorm buildings full of refrigerators, those differences really begin to add up—both financially and environmentally.

So, for the sake of our wallets, our leftovers, and our ecosystems, we say: “make the change”.

Cluck cluck,

Libby & Jacquelyn