Throughout the past weeks, students entering the Dining Center may have come across a white board with some sort of ranking configuration upon it. The origins of this white board trace back to nearly a year ago, when the Committee for Environmental Responsibilities (CER) decided to install several energy expenditure tracking devices all over campus, whose recordings were kept on an online dashboard.
Soon enough the dashboards became an inspiration for CER to decide to join the the Campus Conservation Nationals (CCN), a decision announced earlier this month. CCN is a contest among colleges and universities around the world, and involves adopting an eco-friendly lifestyle that revolves around a reduction in water and electricity usage. The competition is now widely known around campus as “Do It in the Dark.”
Gummere Hall, Tritton Hall, and Barclay Hall, dormitories primarily occupied by freshmen, were selected as the only participants of the challenge, due to desires “to start relatively small” and the fact that there was “already a ‘competitive’ framework in place thanks to Customs, Dorm Olympics, et cetera,” explained CER member Gabe Oppler ’17. CER instilled self-promoted “eco-reps” in Gummere, Tritton, and Barclay in order to have a means to rally up the freshman troops in this contest.
However, as is often the case, these splendid ideals faced several challenges once put into practice. Even though the CER used Do it in the Dark as a vessel to promote consumption reduction around campus, some groups could not help but feel a little left out. For starters, the Haverford College Apartments (many of which house freshman) could not be a part of the competition, since these buildings could not hold the individual electricity meters. Thus, no records are kept of the apartments’ reduction on the dashboard site.
Even among the participating dorms, there were some that felt somewhat excluded from the start.
“We don’t really have much control in Tritton,” stated Henry Woods ’18. “Our heating is automatic and so are most of the lights.”
Consequently, Barclay and Gummere had a upper hand of sorts, since they have more control of their lighting. However, even in those dorms there arose some complications.
“We did have some juicy encounters with Safety and Security who were worried about, well, the safety and security of our lightless hall,” recounted Charlotte Colantti ‘18. “After a couple of such run-ins our hall lost all morale and we abandoned energy saving measures.”
While the nature of this contest was uncompetitive and strived to promote the practice of minimal energy usage, the preceding scenarios convey some of the limits of these eco-friendly desires. But Oppler emphasized that Do it in the Dark was just “a first step in a long-term process of improving Haverford’s practices with regards to energy consumption,” and that in the upcoming years, strides will be made to include all dormitories in the contest.
During each week of the competition, the rankings were determined by the percentage of reduction of energy consumption from the respective usage of each of the participating dorms. The standings were displayed on the Do it in the Dark portion of the dashboard site, in addition to the whiteboard at the entrance of the DC.
Barclay took the victory in Week 1, with a 12.1% reduction, while Gummere won the last two weeks and the competition overall, with a total reduction of 15.3%. Even though the competition has ended, the dashboard site will continue to keep track of energy expenditures of many of the buildings on campus during the upcoming months.
Even though there were difficulties and limitations involved in the competition, at the end of the day, results were reached.
“Overall we saved 1808 kWh of electricity, averted 2199 lb of CO2, and saved $144 for the college,” said Oppler.