Reducing Electricity Usage on Campus – Hobart and William Smith Colleges \
The HWS Update

Reducing Electricity Usage on Campus

In an effort to help the HWS community become more cognizant of electricity usage on campus, the Colleges participated in the New York Negawatt Challenge, a three-week competition among schools in the New York Six Consortium to reduce electricity usage. From Nov. 1 through Nov. 21, Hobart and William Smith saved 24,160.7 kWh, reducing campus wide energy usage by 2.6 percent.

Throughout the competition, electricity usage was monitored in de Cordova Hall, Caird Hall, the Scandling Campus Center, Emerson Hall, the Warren Hunting Smith Library, and Jackson, Potter and Rees Halls. De Cordova Hall saw the largest reduction with an 11 percent decrease in usage, saving 2,107.2 kWH of energy throughout the competition. Caird Hall held a close second, decreasing its usage by 10.4 percent and saving 1,648.0 kWh of energy. The Scandling Campus Center also saw a 1.1 percent decrease, and Emerson Hall a 0.1 percent reduction.

“The New York Negawatt Challenge again proved to be a useful tool in which to engage students, faculty and staff with their electricity usage on campus,” says Sustainability Manager Adam Maurer. “The environmental, social and economic cost of electricity, much like trash, isn’t something we necessarily encounter or grapple with in our everyday lives, but every time you flip a switch on or sit at your computer, we need to be reminded that a power plant somewhere is producing electricity, often with fossil fuels, to make all those things happen.”

HWS Eco Reps hosted a number of events promoting the competition and encouraging students to reduce their electricity usage. From board game nights to environmental-themed movie showings and a “Lights out on the Night Out” event encouraged students to turn off their electronics and lights in residence hall rooms.

“The campus benefited from the challenge itself because it started a conversation that people weren’t having on a large level before,” says Dan Bristol ’18, who is the lead Eco Rep for de Cordova, Caird and Emerson Halls. “Fun events in every residence neighborhood encouraged students not only to reduce electrical use, but also helped students bond as a community without the constant distraction of electrical devices.”

Although the Colleges offset 100 percent of electricity use through the purchase of wind energy, lowering electricity use on campus is an important measure to decrease the amount of fossil fuels burned from the release of greenhouse gases during electricity generation. Bristol explains that the competition helped promote this through “friendly competition” between residence halls and with other institutions.

This was the fifth annual N.Y. Negawatt Challenge, and the Colleges’ second year participating with Hamilton College, St. Lawrence University, Union College, and Colgate University.

Hobart and William Smith have consistently been nationally recognized for their commitment to environmental leadership and sustainability. This year, the Colleges were ranked No. 53 on Sierra’s “Cool Schools” list, moving ahead 63 spots since first appearing on the list in 2009 and earning the highest possible rating in the categories for co-curricular sustainability programs and initiatives, as well as innovation in sustainability. Hobart and William Smith were also featured in the 2015 edition of The Princeton Review‘s “Guide to 353 Green Colleges” as one of North America’s most environmentally responsible schools. In 2014, the Colleges were named a Tree Campus USA for the third consecutive year by the Arbor Day Foundation and Toyota.

Hobart and William Smith have committed to achieving climate neutrality (net zero emissions) by 2025, as part of the American College & University Presidents’ Climate Commitment. An energy and climate committee made up of facilities staff, the sustainability manager, a Hobart student, and a William Smith student meet monthly to discuss strategies in reducing campus energy use and greenhouse gas emissions. More information about HWS’ sustainability initiatives and the Climate Action Plan are available on the Office of Sustainability’s website.

In the photo above, Yukun Yang ’17 and Chelten Leggett ’17 check HWS’ electricity usage at a table hosted by the Eco-Reps in the Scandling Campus Center. The tabling event took part during the Negawatt Challenge, a college competition to see which campus can reduce electricity usage the most during the month of November.