After 6 weeks, Shepard and Willard earn Green Cup wins

Rachel Kopilow

Shepard and Willard Residential Colleges got the gold for being green this quarter.

After hearing the results of this year’s Green Cup, Jennifer Skene, the environmental chairwoman of Shepard, said she was thrilled and relieved.

“I screamed. People thought I had died,” said the Communication freshman. “We put so much work into the competition. A lot of people made a lot of sacrifices and it made me so happy to see our hard work paid off.”

Students for Ecological and Environmental Development sponsors Green Cup every year to challenge students living on campus to lower their energy consumption.

The competition is divided into two categories: dorms with dining halls and dorms without.

To determine the winner, each dorm’s water and electricity consumption were measured three times throughout the competition. This data was compared with a “baseline” reading of the dorm’s energy consumption taken before the competition began. Points were awarded based on the overall percent reduction of energy consumption.

“You can definitely see from the numbers the dorms that did try and made a conscious effort,” said Tom Ledolter, McCormick junior and local projects co-chairman of Engineers for a Sustainable World. Ledolter processed the data to determine the winning dorms.

Shepard reduced water consumption by about 5 percent and their electricity consumption was down by about 30 percent.

Willard, which has a dining hall, did not reduce water consumption but cut their electricity consumption in half.

“We’re not trying to make residents live in the cold or not use any coal,” Ledolter said. “We just want to make people aware of the quantities of resources that they consume, to get people thinking of what they actually need to consume to be comfortable. Do I really need the light on 20 hours of the day?”

Little acts of conservation and daily sacrifices were key to winning, Skene said. One student who loves to bake abandoned the oven for six weeks, some residents did not do laundry, and many showered with the lights off, she said.

“It was a group effort. The credit goes to all of Shepard,” she said. “The fact that we did so well is going to make people realize that the simple acts of saving energy really pay off in the long run.”

Recycling chair of Willard, Jessica Robinson, expressed concern with Green Cup’s results.

“The sad thing is that we didn’t do that much. We turned off lights and urged people to unplug their laptops,” said the Weinberg sophomore. “But the other dorms just did really bad.”

Twenty-four of NU’s 31 residence halls and residential colleges did not reduce electricity consumption at all during the competition.

Some students hadn’t heard of Green Cup, or didn’t know their dorms were participating.

“I think it’s great, but not all of the campus knows about it,” said Tyra Lindholm, Weinberg freshman and resident of Public Affairs Residential College, which came in 13th place in the competition.

Since Green Cup began in 2006, it has been a two-week competition. This year’s competition lasted for six weeks, which helped instill environmentally-friendly habits in residents, said Saul Frankford, who was on the Green Cup Committee in Shepard.

“I really like the fact that it was extended to six weeks. After turning off light and water for so long, I got into the habit,” said the School of Music freshman.

Last year, 13 dorms did not reduce electricity consumption at all. But it is hard to compare the data of this year’s Green Cup with previous years because this year’s was longer, said Green Cup Chair Laura Christian.

“Last year’s data was a little more profound since it was only two weeks. We still did reduce energy this year,” she said. “We created more long-term change.”

NU is on its way to being green, Christian said, citing newly-constructed buildings on campus that are Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) certified. The hybrid SafeRide vehicles and ENERGY STAR qualified appliances in NU’s buildings are further evidence of NU’s environmental consciousness, said Frankford.

“It’s important for us to make sure we use our resources well and have enough for the future,” he said.

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