Last night marked the end of “Do it in the Dark,” an annual energy-reduction competition at Haverford organized by the Committee for Environmental Responsibility (CER). According to its website, CER’s mission is “to educate our community about global environmental concerns, and to be a positive example for students at Haverford and other colleges to follow.”
This year’s competition included four brackets: Gummere and Barclay, Tritton and Kim, Leeds and Lloyd, and the North Dorms. The winners were Gummere, Tritton, Leeds, and Lunt. Gummere led the pack with an incredible 25.1% reduction in energy usage.
This is the second year of “Do it in the Dark.” The three-week competition was originally part of a broader program, but CER decided to run the competition independently at Haverford this year, according to Alana Tartaro ’17, a member of CER.
The competition encourages students to turn off their lights and find other ways to save energy. CER tabled in the DC prior to the competition to demonstrate how to measure the amount of energy that different devices use.
“We think that it’s really important that students at Haverford be personally engaged with environmental issues and be aware of their own consumption,” said Tartaro.
In Gummere 1/2, students defrosted their refrigerators, unplugged the hall’s microwave, charged their phones and computers off the hall, and worked in the common room to minimize the amount of electricity they used. Some students on 1/2 even shut the blinds and created posters quoting the Dark Knight Rises to “recreate permanent darkness,” according to Cole Sansom ‘19.
“I’m going to miss this when it’s over. I’ve really enjoyed the hall being a communal place because of the darkness,” said Danielle Jacobson ‘19.
However, some students did not think that Do It In The Dark was an entirely positive experience.
“In my opinion, my hall took Do It In The Dark way too far,” said Charlotte Eisenberg ‘19.
For Stephanie Histon ‘18, a Dorm Resource Person (DRP) and Eco Rep in Barclay, it was important to raise awareness about the competition and inform students about how to save energy. She and the other DRPs in Barclay created posters with tips for reducing energy, wrote reminders on the bathroom walls with dry-erase markers, and turned off the hall lights.
“Hopefully you carry some of those habits with you into the rest of the semester because you realize it actually does make a difference,” said Histon.
According to Tartaro, CER measured each dorm’s energy consumption with kilowatt meters two weeks before the competition and has tracked their percent reduction throughout the competition. Dorms could see their progress on Haverford’s Building Dashboard.
Gummere reduced its energy consumption by 21.5%, Lunt by 16%, Tritton by 15.4%, and Leeds by 10.7%. Though they did not win their brackets, all other dorms significantly reduced energy usage during the competition with the exception of Jones, which increased its consumption by .5%.
Although the competition between dorms may have motivated some students, Histon also noted that some dorms have greater advantages automatically. For example, Gummere has more halls, so they can reduce more energy. On the other hand, dorms like Tritton and Kim face the challenge of having a heating and air conditioning system, which the hall cannot adjust to save energy, and bathroom lights that they cannot turn off manually.
In addition to these obstacles, some dorms also do not invest as much time raising awareness of the competition. According to Histon, upperclassmen DRPs and students are often busier and may not participate as much as freshman as a result.
Despite these challenges, the participating dorms averted 4265 pounds of carbon over the course of the competition.
CER plans to award the winners with a reception catered by Mugshots, an environmentally-conscious B-corporation.