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Green it Forward aims to reduce campus energy consumption

By LAURA HERNANDEZ

Published April 11, 2016

“Saving energy is more than a money thing; it impacts the world we live in.”
Stephanie Acquario, student assistant
UB Sustainability

UB hopes to further reduce energy usage on campus by 10 percent, just in time for Earth Day.    

After a successful student-led program last year, UB Sustainability again this week is hosting Green it Forward, an initiative to share tips and tricks with faculty, staff and students on how to reduce energy in their everyday lives through fun events and activities.

Green it Forward week started with a noontime, kick-off event today in the Student Union. Designed to inform students about energy use and energy waste, attendees were introduced to the UB Energy Dashboard, given information on different methods of saving energy and asked to sign a pledge to be more conscious of energy usage. Students also were treated to smoothies provided by the Engineers for a Sustainable World’s solar smoothie cart.

Throughout the week, staff in the residence halls and apartments will be leading programs that focus on energy reduction and sustainable living strategies, like DIY projects, reuse projects and how to grow an herb garden. Participants can keep an eye out for daily tips and updates on energy usage.     

“The last thing on a student’s mind is saving energy,” says Stephanie Acquario, a sophomore communication and environmental studies major and student assistant with UB Sustainability. “We’re missing an energy consciousness in student and campus life because we don’t directly pay for the energy we use while on campus. Green it Forward week intends to create an energy consciousness within campus life.”

Efforts to reduce energy usage on campus will be led by student leaders affectionately known as ELFS (Education and Leadership Fellows in Sustainability), who are part of the Change Agents Scholar Initiative funded through the UB President’s Circle Fund. The ELFS are leading numerous outreach, engagement and education programs across the North and South campuses, including overseeing energy reduction in the residence halls and apartments, and in the academic buildings.  

Energy usage throughout campus is being tracked through the UB Sustainability Energy Dashboard, which checks how much energy a person on campus is using and measures it in kilowatt-hours, gasoline or even dollars.   

For each percentage point of energy that is reduced during the week, $100 will be awarded to the Green Legacy Student Project Fund, which provides support for student-run projects that help reduce energy use. This year’s goal is to reduce energy usage throughout campus by 10 percent and raise $1,000. An additional $1,000 will be matched, for a total of $2,000 donated to the fund if the full 10 percent reduction is achieved.      

To help the cause, members of the UB community are encouraged to turn off the lights when they leave a room, unplug appliances and devices that are not being used, wash clothes in cold water and use the stairs instead of taking the elevator.    

Each day will end with a Lights Out Brigade meeting at 10 p.m. in the Student Union lobby. Students can take part in races and competitions to turn off lights throughout campus for an hour. Those who attend the nightly gatherings may even be featured in the Lights Out Brigade video being filmed after Green it Forward week.      

Acquario hopes this week’s activities will bring awareness to the importance of saving energy, both on and off campus.  

“I was always taught to not be wasteful growing up, and now I believe it’s a concept that is even more important in an increasingly wasteful world,” she says. “Saving energy is more than a money thing; it impacts the world we live in.”