GREEN House, Willard take Green Cup glory

Lauren Mogannam

Mert Iseri is the type of student who sacrifices for his ideals.

The McCormick sophomore gave up showering for a week to help his dorm, the Group Residence for Environmental Engagement at Northwestern House, appropriately known as the GREEN House. It won this year’s Green Cup, alongside Willard Residential College.

The fourth annual Green Cup sponsored by Students for Ecological and Environmental Development took place Winter Quarter from January 20 to March 3.

After the GREEN House resident used water sparingly, navigated his way through dark hallways and air-dried his jeans in the common area for six weeks, he celebrated his efforts with fellow GREEN House and Willard residents with a “green” pizza party Thursday night.

About 120 students from both residential colleges gathered in Willard’s “Rat Trap” to celebrate their conservation efforts and share stories of how they achieved their goals while indulging in Lou Malnati’s pizza.

Timing showers was just one way Iseri and members of the GREEN House conserved energy which ultimately led to their victory over other dorms without dining halls. Kemper Hall and Shepard Residential College placed second and third, respectively.

“When I showered, I averaged a weekly time of three minutes,” Iseri said.

As an incentive to save water, shower times were recorded and the resident with the shortest weekly average was given a prize at munchies, said Kim Castle, the GREEN House social chairwoman.

By minimizing shower time, the GREEN House residents were able to cut water usage by 70 percent, according to SEED’s calculations.

Along with timing showers, the GREEN House executive board encouraged residents to wash their clothes in cold water and use drying racks instead of dryers, Castle said. This helped reduce electricity use by 27 percent.

Even though GREEN House residents went to some extremes, Willard residents were able to conserve energy and water by making small adjustments to their daily lives, said Willard President Ian Rinehart. Willard was able to reduce its water usage by 2 percent and its electrical usage by 30 percent, placing first amongst residencies with a dining hall. Elder Hall came in second and 1835 Hinman placed third.

Instead of winning prizes, Willard residents were able to earn housing points during the six weeks, Rinehart said.

“We weren’t asking residents to do anything that special,” the Weinberg sophomore said. “We asked them to do little things – obviously not taking more than you are going to eat, not using trays, turning off the lights and recycling.”

Some Willard residents didn’t even notice doing anything out of the ordinary. Diana Jonke said she chose not to fully participate in the Green Cup.

“The only thing that we did was turn off the lights,” the Weinberg freshman said. “I don’t know anyone who was that into it, but we must have done something right because we won.”

In addition to Willard’s and the GREEN House’s efforts to make the Green Cup a success, there were new campus-wide events to promote involvement, said Green Cup co-Chairwoman Elisa Redish.

“We tried to make Green Cup more interactive this year,” the Communication sophomore said. “We joined with other student groups to collaborate spreading the word.”

SEED hopes to also include the Greek community next year, Redish said.

“We tried to get the Greek community involved this year,” she said. “It is difficult though because the university doesn’t pay for their water or electricity so they aren’t on the normal meter schedule.”

This year’s competitors pushed themselves to the limit to prove they could be more ecologically friendly.

“Living in the GREEN House is like Green Cup year-round,” Iseri said. “But it was a great experience, in the sense that we pushed ourselves and stretched it out as far as we could.”

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