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New Pembroke leads in EcoReps contest

The energy conservation group is expanding its annual residence hall sustainability effort

New Pembroke has emerged as the early frontrunner in the University’s third annual Brown Unplugged: Do It in the Dark energy conservation competition, according to the website tracking energy consumption among the participating dorms. The contest, which began Friday and ends March 21, is meant to promote long-term clean energy habits around campus and is sponsored by EcoReps in conjunction with the Office of Residential Life and the Department of Facilities Management.

With a 39.1 percent reduction in kilowatt hours so far this month, New Pembroke held first place in the contest as of press time. Thirteen other dorms have joined the contest this year.

Last year, 893 students participated and saved more than 23,000 kilowatt hours of electricity, according to the event’s website. Littlefield Hall won last year’s contest with a 26.6 percent reduction in energy, a total of more than 1,500 kilowatt hours of energy conserved.

Dorm captains in each of the participating dorms orchestrate students’ conservation efforts.

Klara Zimmerman ’15, one of the competition’s two dorm captain managers, said EcoReps has become more organized this year, allowing them to “increase the publicity of the competition much more than in previous years, expand it to include more students and reduce energy savings more.”

EcoReps has used a number of new promotional materials, including a hollow cube made of plastic pipework on the Main Green. The cube was large enough for onlookers to walk inside and was the size of one-eighth of a metric ton of carbon, said James Giarraputo ’15, an EcoReps coordinator who also interns for the Department of Facilities Management. He noted that the cube is approximately 1/88th of the energy conserved at the University in last year’s contest.

EcoReps member Johnny Snelgrove ’14.5 aided promotional efforts by recording a song to raise awareness for the competition. Giarraputo said  Snelgrove’s song, “Do It In the Dark,” will be released as a video once the competition ends.

“Spectacle is our philosophy,” Giarraputo said. “We try to catch peoples’ attention and make them come to us.”

This year, contest coordinators said they have done more to help dorm captains who are new to EcoReps.

“I think it’s awesome that those outside of EcoReps were willing to take on the initiative and spread the word about the competition to their hallmates and friends,” said Zimmerman, who was a dorm captain last year.

EcoReps provided new leaders with support recruiting team members, making posters and hosting training sessions.

“I usually have very environmentally-conscious habits, but specifically for the month of March, I use natural light for as much of the day as possible before I turn on the lights in my room,” Zimmerman said.

Giarraputo said students can undertake many measures to reduce their energy consumption, including using a power strip for computer and cell phone cords and turning it off when it is not in use. He said students can also use community refrigerators instead of smaller dorm refrigerators.

As part of their efforts to build on the competition’s efforts, EcoReps coordinators plan to host two incandescent “light bulb upgrade” sessions at J. Walter Wilson between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. this Friday and March 15, Giarrraputo said. At the sessions, EcoReps members plan to distribute energy-efficient light bulbs to students who choose to recycle their older incandescent bulbs.


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