Green Cup strategy called into question

Samantha Caiola

The GREEN House president encouraged residents to reallocate energy during Green Cup by using other campus facilities, a controversial strategy.

In an effort to sustain the dorm’s Green Cup winning streak, GREEN House president Paige Humecki promised “bonus points” to anyone who “does all of their laundry in Foho” (Foster House) or “showers in SPAC.” She also advised students to charge their computers and cell phones outside of the dorm.

Humecki said in an interview with The Daily she has told residents to use other facilities but only “in a joking fashion.” She does not seriously encourage using water and electricity elsewhere, she said.

“We don’t really promote that as a way to win Green Cup or live sustainably,” Humecki said. “Because obviously it doesn’t help the overall energy and water consumption, which is really what Green Cup is about.”

But whether Humecki was serious or not, some residents have put her tips to practice.

GREEN House resident John Park does not charge electronics or do laundry outside of the dorm because he said it would be “transferred energy, and that would defeat the purpose.” But he does follow one of Humecki’s suggestions.

“I would try to take showers at SPAC instead of in my dorm,” said Park, a McCormick freshman.

Weinberg sophomore and GREEN House resident Emily Davidson said she took several showers at SPAC after exercising there when she would have showered in her dorm previously.

“I would go to SPAC and work out for ten minutes and use their shower,” she said.

While it wasn’t much different from her usual routine, Davidson said she did shower at SPAC four to five times in the past few weeks for the purpose of the Green Cup competition.

Phil Dziedzic, the Green Cup chair for SEED, said that showering at SPAC would not be considered cheating and might even be a good idea.

“(The showers are) there, they’re publicly available, they’re already being used regularly,” said Dziedzic, a McCormick senior. “It isn’t really frowned upon from a competition perspective.”

Weinberg freshman and GREEN House resident Liz Schrier said she thinks residents have tried to reduce their energy consumption in general, not just competing by using other campus facilities.

“We kind of encouraged people to not shower at all,” she said. “I don’t think a lot of people actually went to other places. I think a lot of the word of mouth is based on us showering there after the gym instead of coming back, which is kind of unavoidable.”

Upon hearing about the GREEN House’s alleged strategy, Slivka Residential College of Science and Engineering resident Derek Morris said it was “cheating and disingenuous to the idea of Green Cup.”

“Displacing your water and electricity usage to other places on campus is not helping the issue at all,” said Morris, a McCormick junior. “There should be some public backlash against that.”

The Group Residence for Environmental Engagement at Northwestern, better known as the GREEN House, is the only environmentally themed dorm on campus. It houses 45 students of mixed years and majors, Humecki said. The house, which opened in 2008, won the Green Cup competition in 2009 and 2010, an annual water and electricity reduction competition hosted by Students for Ecological and Environmental Development, also known as SEED.

As an environmentally-conscious dorm, GREEN House has some pre-installed advantages, including dual-flush toilets that save water and energy-efficient lighting, Humecki said.

GREEN House residents are always encouraged not to use dryers, which are the most energy-intensive appliances a college student uses, Humecki said. Instead, students use the drying racks in the basement or clotheslines. Humecki joked about the possibility of using other dorms to do laundry.

“Honestly, if you can pull off drying all of your clothes in someone else’s dorm, more power to you, I guess,” Humecki said. “It seems a bit intense. It’s much easier just to put them on drying racks.”

Green Cup officially ended Tuesday and as of now, Green House is ranked first place out of all dormitories without food service, according to an e-mail sent out by SEED. Elder Hall currently has the most points for dormitories with food service.

This month, Elder residents have kept hallway and bathroom lights turned off as much as possible and promoted the use of recycling bins, said the dorm’s president, Megan McEvily. Using facilities in other campus buildings was not suggested, she said.

“That’s not something that was on our campaign for reducing Elder’s electricity,” said McEvily, a Weinberg freshman, in an e-mail. “I would be pretty mad if four Bobb girls came in and used our showers. I think most people would be upset about that. But I think it’s something people joke about but never actually do.”

Results will be announced and trophies distributed at the competition’s closing ceremonies in the Great Room on March 9 at 7 p.m.

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