GREEN House debut is ‘foundation’ to build from

Cindy Huang

Although the Group Residence for Environmental Engagement at Northwestern House had its share of failures, its founders still considered the dorm’s pilot year on campus to be a success, said Communication sophomore Kim Castle, the social chairwoman of NU’s first environmentally themed dorm.

“We’ve brought the dorm together: competing in the Green Cup, having shorter shower competitions and bringing in (David) Quammen for a fireside,” she said.

The GREEN House, 2251 Sheridan Rd., has taken many initiatives to create a more eco-friendly dorm. The dorm features low-flow shower heads and faucets, dual-flush toilets and motion-sensor lights to conserve water and energy, Castle said.

The idea for the dorm stemmed from a Students for Ecological and Environmental Development meeting last year. After several members of SEED presented a detailed plan to NU administrators and garnered hundreds of signatures supporting their initiative, the GREEN House became an official housing option for students.

However, not all of the current residents originally wanted to live there. Even though the GREEN House had an application process for interested students, many who live there now did not submit applications for consideration.

Weinberg freshman Jonathan Braverman, who had wanted to live in Elder Hall, said he was initially skeptical about living in a green dorm. There was definitely a transitional period for people who did not plan on living there, he said.

“I was scared that they would be militant and enforce two-minute showers,” he joked.

However, Braverman said he found most people are environmentally conscious because it seems like the right thing to do and not because they feel pressured to do it.

McCormick sophomore Sunanda Katragadda had applied to live in the GREEN House because she said she wanted to live with a group of people who cared about the environment.

“The people here are a lot of fun,” Katragadda said. “They care about the environment, but they’re also relaxed.”

GREEN House’s biggest accomplishment this year was winning the Green Cup, a campus-wide initiative encouraging students to conserve resources, Katragadda said. The GREEN House cut its water use by 70 percent, and even the freshmen who initially did not want to live there were influenced to be more green, she said.

“We took the Green Cup very seriously,” Katragadda said.

Next year, Castle said she hopes to get a solid group of students who are passionate about living in the residence. Through more outreach activities, Castle said she hopes the GREEN House will encourage the NU campus to improve infrastructure in order to conserve energy.

“We’ve built a really good foundation for years to come,” she said.

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