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TEN-WEEK ENERGY CONSERVATION PUSH BEGINS

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The Office of Environmental Sustainability at the University at Albany launched their 10th annual Energy Campaign on Sept. 7.

The campaign runs for 10 weeks and is meant to encourage students living on campus to be mindful of their energy use.

Last year’s campaign almost met its goal of a 10 percent reduction of the energy baseline across both academic and residential buildings on campus, having reached a nine percent total campus-wide reduction in kilowatt usage.

The goal of the campaign is to minimize energy use on campus over the course of 10 weeks. To engage students, the residential quads and apartments are pitted against one another and their individual energy reductions are compared on a weekly basis. As of Friday, the university had an overall six percent reduction in energy use, with Freedom Apartments in the lead. 

Last year, Mary Ellen Mallia, the director of Environmental Sustainability, declared Colonial Quad and Freedom Apartments the winners of the campaign.

“Colonial received best performance by a quad during the energy campaign and Freedom received best performance by an apartment complex,” Mallia said.

This year the goal to reduce energy usage by 10 percent remains.

Students are alerted of the annual campaign via their UAlbany email, however, most students feel the campaign is not effective.

Megan Castaldo, a junior political science major, feels the campaign lacks serious involvement.

“I just know that they [the office of sustainability] do that thing with all the quads, like who can save the most energy. But I also know that no one really tries,” Castaldo said. 

Even if some students feel the Energy Campaign lacks serious involvement, the campaign will continue to run, since the school has a legal obligation to be mindful of its energy use. This summer, Gov. Andrew Cuomo approved the Clean Energy standard. This ambitious program mandates, “that all electricity consumed in New York by 2030 result from clean and renewable energy sources.”

Madison Corbeil, a junior environmental science major, is the programming intern for the Office of Environmental Sustainability this year. Corbeil understands that the Energy Campaign goes beyond the whole “save the planet” mantra.

“There’s a rationale for doing all this stuff like a financial rationale … it’s not just like oh we’re just doing this for the planet, you have to do it, you don’t have a choice,” she said.

The residential quad with the greatest energy reduction is rewarded by having a portion of the money saved from the reduced energy usage being repurposed back to the quad. In the past a portion of the winnings went back to the Office of Residential Life.

One of the activities the money sponsored was the Bike Share program, which allows UAlbany students to rent bikes from the wellness centers on Colonial, Indian, and Alumni Quad for the day, free of charge.

The Energy Campaign will continue past its 10 week run, with a variety of yearlong programming efforts sponsored by the Office of Sustainability.

Mallia oversees a yearlong competition among quads in which the winner is awarded the Green Dane trophy. This was presented to Colonial last year.

“We also have a year long competition where quads/apartments get points for their performance on different tasks including: a recycling sort at Clash of the Quads, their performance in the energy campaign, Trashion Fashion, and participation in Campus Crunch and Clean up day,” Mallia said.

For students looking to make an impact in the fall energy campaign, Corbeil says that one of the biggest wasters of electricity are the energy vampires.

“Things you leave plugged in like a charger will still draw electricity, even if there’s not a phone plugged into it,” she said.

The 10-week Energy Campaign will officially end on Nov. 13, however, students are encouraged to continue to be mindful of their energy use on campus. The UAlbany Green Scene launched a new initiative this year called “take the stairs Tuesday,” encouraging those who are able to, to use the stairs in place of the elevator.

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