Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Pull the plug: Conservation program electrifies campus

By Taylor Lunka, Guest Writer

S’mores by the fire, glow in the dark Frisbees and Pacific Lutheran University students surrounded the Pflueger firepit on Sept. 25 from 9:30-10:30 p.m. to mark the official Hour of No Power event.
In an effort to reduce the amount of electricity used on campus, the Residence Hall Association sustainability directors hosted more than 100 students at the event.

While students do not think about having their laptop or phone chargers plugged in constantly, Anna Pfohl, sustainability director for the Resident Hall Association, said she wants students to realize that unplugging electronics is “not that difficult.”

“Students don’t always need to be using electricity,” Pfohl said. “The idea behind Hour of No Power is to encourage people to not use it for an hour and realize it can be fun.”

Tasks like unplugging a laptop charger not in use or turning off a power strip is a “friendly way to decrease energy usage,” Pfohl said.

At the event, students were encouraged to fill out sustainability pledges and reflect on how much energy they use on a daily basis.

Sophomore Stephanie Mock, who attended Hour of No Power, said she is glad to see the university focusing on another aspect of sustainability besides recycling.

“I think it’s great that PLU is trying to be as sustainable as possible,” Mock said. “It’s nice to focus specifically on electricity. I think its good for awareness and to save some power.” Mock makes sure she turns off lights when she leaves the room and is going to try to unplug more when she’s not using her electronics.

First-year Michelle Spieker said she wants the university to use the saved money to go toward new sustainability products. “The money should go to new things to conserve energy, like the flushers on the toilets,” Spieker said.

The university saves money by having students participate in Hour of No Power and other unPLUgged events.

Sustainability director Christine Cooley said energy usage has decreased since the first year of unPLUgged in 2008.

“The first year we did this [unPLUgged], we saved $16,000,” Cooley said. “That is enough electricity to power 16 average four-person homes. Last year we saved 41 homes of electricity.” Cooley, the RHA sustainability directors and volunteers around campus want to see an increase in the number of homes of electricity they can save this year.

October marks the official month of unPLUgged. All month long, events on how to be more sustainable will be taking place on campus.

Residence halls will compete to see which building can save the most energy.

A graph will be chalked in front of the Anderson University Center by the clock tower to show weekly how much each hall is saving. “This is the first time we’ve done it like this and we’re just trying to provide people with evidence so they can make their own choices,” Cooley said.

President Thomas Krise will be announcing the winner of the competition Oct. 29.