Rocky, Mathey compete to conserve energy use
“We’ve been turning the thermostat down day and night and freezing, even though we’re from tropical climates,” Nicole Quah ’12, a Mathey resident, said of her and her roommate.
Once SURGE receives the final data on Monday from engineers for the Department of Facilities, it will determine how much energy each college and dormitory consumed per person during the week-long competition. The exact metrics by which the winners will be judged have yet to be determined, project creator Thomas Chen ’09 said.
The winning dorm will receive shirts for its residents, and the winning college will be awarded a trophy made of light bulbs that were traded in during the Light Bulb Exchange initiative held earlier this year. To promote the event, SURGE provided funds for RCAs to host activities and also sponsored a screening of an episode of the television show “Planet Earth” in the Rocky-Mathey Theatre.
SURGE co-chair Danny Growald ’11 said one challenge the group faced was organizing the project in a short amount of time, but he noted that “Facilities, the Rocky [and] Mathey deans, and the RCAs have been particularly helpful.”
“They’ve taken some wonderful initiatives to get this going,” he said.
Not all students, however, were aware of the project’s details.
“I actually didn’t know it was a competition, I just thought it was a conserve-energy campaign,” Rocky resident Quintilio Rose ’11 said.
Some dorms have made collective efforts to reduce energy usage. Alex Landon ’12, the only SURGE underclassman who lives in Rocky-Mathey, noted sticky notes posted by the light switches in Joline Hall to remind students to turn off the lights.
Some students considered getting ahead at the expense of other dorms.
“There were definitely plans for sabotage, but I haven’t seen any plans actually carried out,” Landon said, noting that Joline residents had considered both going to other dorms to do laundry and using an extension cord to obtain energy from Campbell Hall.
“But I think most people have adhered to the spirit of the competition,” she said.
Chen and Andrew Eil GS, former SURGE co-chair and one of the project’s designers, said they hope that “Do It in the Dark” will expand beyond Rocky and Mathey. Chen explained that the two colleges were chosen to host the competition because of their rivalry and because both have energy meters that can measure usage in each dorm building. Forbes and Whitman can only record data for the college as a whole, and Butler and Wilson are not equipped with meters that provide easy access to data.
“Eventually, we hope to take this to the entire [campus] level,” Chen said. “Hopefully, the spirit of energy conservation will be engrained in students’ minds.”
SURGE has scheduled a meeting with Forbes representatives to discuss a Forbes-Whitman competition in the spring.
This week’s competition will end with Pull the Plug, an annual campus-wide effort to remind students to unplug appliances and turn off lights before leaving for winter break.
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