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The Carletonian

Fourth annual Green Wars begin with new features

<e 2006, Green Wars has become a yearly staple at Carleton.  The energy-saving competition is back again this year, but with a few changes.

In addition to its familiar setup (each of the individual dorms competing to lower their energy use from January levels), this year’s Green Wars will also feature weekly energy data postings, the addition of campus houses as a combined team and a new structure of groups hosting weekly events. 

To divide the task of keeping students involved for a month of Green Wars events, each week is being hosted by a different campus group. 

The Sustainability Assistants began last week with a kick-off event where students could bring electronics, ranging from hair dryers to computers, to measure the amount of energy used simply by plugging things into an outlet.

“I often hear people criticize the negligibility of one person’s impact on energy use just from, say, plugging their electronics into a power strip or using CFLs [compact fluorescent light bulbs] instead of incandescent light bulbs,” said Tess Dornfeld, president of Students Organized for the Protection of the Environment (SOPE).  “It’s true that our actions are miniscule compared to the energy use of air travel or the agricultural industry, but the idea is more about the mindset than the actions.”

This week, MPIRG hosted a transportation talk on Complete Streets legislation, and it will host an Olympics Opening Ceremonies watching party tonight in the Goodhue Super Lounge to save energy by limiting viewing to one television.
Food Truth is set to host next week, and SOPE will round out the month.

“The week-by-week system is a new method we’re trying out this year which will hopefully relieve some of the burden from the primary groups and make Green Wars even more successful,” Dornfeld said.

More noticeable for students will be weekly postings of each dorm’s energy data in Sayles, which Sustainability Assistant Libby Nachman ’12 hopes will bring more enthusiasm to the month-long competition.  The groups behind Green Wars will work with Facilities to collect more accurate data thanks to a new metering system. 

“Our goal is to post energy data weekly so people can see how they’re doing and keep momentum going,” Nachman said.
In case that momentum slips, there’s always the thought of prizes to boost morale.  The winning dorm will be catered a free dinner from Kurry Kabob, and the students from the winning dorm who attend the most Green Wars events will also receive a t-shirt.

Nachman said the prizes are a good incentive, but she hopes the message of Green Wars will spread farther than just the month of February.

“It’s a competition, and that’s cool, but the competition is only to get people to become aware of their energy habits,” she said. “It’s good just to learn how you can live more sustainably in general. It doesn’t have to be a huge, life-changing decision.”

“If people can increase their consciousness about their energy use, that’s the first step toward transforming the planet’s consumption habits,” Dornfeld said. “Every little thing adds up, especially as good choices become long-lasting habits and influence others around you to follow your lead and be more conscious of their own energy use.”

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