RHA, Greek Green Cup reward environmentalism

Sammy Caiola

The Green Cup and Greek Green Cup, two competitions running throughout February, encourage students on all parts of campus to reduce water and energy use for this month and beyond.

The Green Cup has held competitions in dormitories since 2006 and is sponsored by Students for Ecological and Environmental Development, Facilities Management, Student Affairs and the Initiative for Sustainability and Energy at Northwestern. Since last year, Greek leaders have held a similar competition between fraternity and sorority houses. The board members of both cups collaborate in planning events, but scoring and prizes are handled separately.

“We definitely borrowed the concept from them,” said Matt Singer, a Weinberg junior and founder of Greek Green Cup. “Even though we’re not a SEED organization, we work with them a lot. There’s no hostile feelings about the two competitions. I would say they are different, but joint.”

This year’s tournaments kicked off with a speech from Professor Kim Grey about sustainability in urban design on Jan. 31.

In the Green Cup, residences with dining halls are judged separately from residences without them. Each week, facilities management assesses the amount of water and energy a dormitory has used and how much that number has decreased since the previous week. This percentage of reduction is compared to other dorms and points are awarded accordingly.

“The goal is to make people aware of the fact that their choices about usage can have a pretty big impact,” said Phil Dziedzic, a McCormick senior and Green Cup co-chair for SEED. “There are a lot of things that are specific to dorm living, and the goal is to change those habits over the course of a month.”

SEED has given presentations to Community Assistants on how to raise environmental awareness, and some residential communities have come up with their own ideas. Madeleine Steger, a Weinberg sophomore and the eco chair for 1835 Hinman, said that a “green munchies” with food from a local vegetarian restaurant is on the horizon, as is a fireside about green living.

“Green Cup started in the middle of a blizzard, so people were more concerned about that,” Steger said. “Hopefully as the month goes on, interest will go up. “

With some dining halls closed this week due to storm conditions, certain locations were forced to accommodate more students, which may have an effect on the amount of water and energy usage. Dziedzic said he is curious about the readings for the first week and will try to normalize any drastic differences.

“The figures for heat were probably higher this week, but once things clear up it will probably go back to normal,” Dziedzic said.

Residence Hall Association president Jesus Roman, a Weinberg sophomore, said that RHA is providing Green Cup water bottles for dormitory presidents to distribute at their discretion.

While winning dormitories have received cash prizes in the past, Dziedzic said SEED has contacted local environmentally-conscious restaurants about providing some kind of party.

Some students have taken individual initiatives to encourage their peers to live greener.

“I’m on a personal campaign to convince people to turn off the shower lights,” said Jeremy Rotner, a Weinberg freshman and PARC resident. “Even turning off lights saves a tremendous amount of energy. I’m just trying to get people to be a little more conscious. Global warming is real. People who don’t believe in it are morons.”

The Greek Green Cup differs in that it uses a tournament-style bracket system. The winner of the Greek Green Cup receives $600, but every team in the final four receives a cash prize.

Chapters can also earn “green points” for sustainable initiatives like recycling and using reusable products. There is a lot more camaraderie in the Greek Green Cup, said Singer, because chapters have control over resources that dormitories do not and can make house decisions about lighting, water and temperature changes.

“The main goals are two-fold,” Singer, a Weinberg junior, said. “First, we want to raise awareness of over-consumptive habits. During competitions, you’ll pick up habits that will carry on after the competition and cumulatively will make a very big impact on energy used.”