February is Energy Month. Energy Month is a new event for both St. Olaf and Carleton, and aims to educate students about where their energy comes from and the environmental costs of over-consumption.
During this month, the two Northfield campuses are competing to see which can use less energy per student. The more eco-friendly college will win the Energy Month Trophy.
There is also a competition on the St. Olaf campus to see which residence hall can make the most dramatic reduction in energy use compared to February 2005. The broader hope is, of course, that students will continue their new, more sustainable habits long after the Energy Month posters have been taken down.
This month, the Environmental Coalition is sponsoring a wide range of activities to promote energy awareness and energy-free fun. These activities include a series of lectures on sustainability and development, as well as acoustic concerts from Lucas Paine '06 and Aidan Currie '08.
Carleton is also playing host to myriad lectures and other programs designed to promote energy conservation. A full roster of activities on both campuses is available on the Energy Month website.
The website provides startling insight into just how much energy students unknowingly consume and offers solutions to cut down on energy use. The Environmental Coalition website implores students to unplug all unused devices.
Appliances left plugged-in still draw electrical current from the outlet. A room in which all appliances are off, but left plugged-in, may draw about 25 kilowatts all the time, equivalent to 26 pounds of coal per semester, and over 200 pounds of coal over a students four years at St. Olaf.
The Environmental Coalition also offers other energy-saving tips. Some are common sense, such as turning off appliances, doing less laundry and taking the stairs rather than the elevator. A more advanced suggestion is to replace incandescent light bulbs with fluorescent ones, which consume roughly a third of the energy and put out less heat, but produce the same amount of light.
Sharing is the name of the game when it comes to conservation. According to the Environmental Coalition, refrigerators consume about half of all the energy in student rooms. Sharing a refrigerator with neighbors, or using the residence hall refrigerators, reduces energy consumption.
A walk through the residence halls shows that many students are making eco-friendly energy choices, but some are strongly resisting change. In several halls, messages have been posted above hallway light switches, threatening students caught turning them off.
Residence Life supports the Energy Month initiative, but reminds students to leave stairwell lights on for safety reasons.
More information on events can be found on the Energy Month website