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First-years reduce carbon footprint with sustainability contest

North Quad residents edged out those in Massell Quad in a month-long recycling and energy conservation competition dubbed the Sustainability Challenge, with Gordon Hall ultimately conserving the most energy of all first-year resident halls.

Over the course of the competition, North Quad was able to raise its amount of recycled waste from 14 percent at the beginning of the competition to 28.75 percent at the end. Massell Quad performed similarly with an increase in recycled waste from 12 percent to 26.5 percent.

Energy usage in Massell decreased to an average of 1494 kilowatts per day during the month, down seven percent from the baseline of 1612 kilowatts per day. North Quad was not as successful in energy conservation, only decreasing from an average of 1324 to 1311, a two percent decrease.

Mary Fischer, manager of sustainability programs, launched the competition this year to increase awareness about recycling and energy usage on campus.

“Absolutely fantastic results overall, proving that if our first-year quads can improve their energy and recycling rates, so can the rest of campus,” Fischer said. She plans to bring more competitions to campus next semester.

The education that comes with a sustainability competition is really beneficial to students, said Estela Lozano ’16, a resident of the Charles River Apartments. Although she is not sure how upperclassmen would respond to competition, she believes even just bringing attention to the importance of recycling and energy consumption helps increase sustainability.

Sophia He ’19, a first-year resident of Deroy, said that the email reminders she received about the competition helped her remember to turn off the lights when she left her room and to recycle.

Kaylee Wallace ’19, a resident of Scheffres felt similarly to He. “Because of the competition, I became more aware of turning off lights and unplugging electronics when I wasn’t using them.”

“I felt I began to recognize that being sustainable was not as difficult as I once thought it was,” said Zach Cihlar ’19, a resident of Renfield. “It doesn’t require drastic routine changes in order to adopt new, more sustainable practices.”

With the conclusion of the competition, first-year students received an email with graphics that clearly showed the increase in recycled waste and decrease in electricity usage. “The infographics sent for the competition updates helped me understand how much of an impact a dorm could make in its efforts,” said Robbie Eaton ’19, a resident of Shapiro.

As promised, first-years are being rewarded for their efforts in decreasing waste and electricity usage. Habiba Braimah, area coordinator for North Quad, is hosting a celebration next Wednesday in Polaris lounge with cider donuts, cider and giveaways.

At the celebration, Gordon Hall residents will be presented with a trophy handmade by an alum, wrote Braimah in her email to the students. First-years who bring their sustainability pledge with them to the event can be entered in a raffle to win a mug or water bottle.

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