In competition, Harvard seeks to “green up” dorms


Students living in on-campus dorms have been issued a challenge and an appeal to their competitive spirit-try to be more efficient than the next dorm.

The challenge, issued by the administration’s new Office of Sustainability, offers incentives (a victory party with food and drink) for the competition winners, as a supplement to the more intangible reasons typically given for energy efficiency, such as energy security and global warming.

The “Reduce Your Juice” competition, which started last week, will last for a month. At the end of week one, North Hall was leading, for the first time in the history of the competition. Last year’s victor, Holmes Hall, was in last place. “It’s really anyone’s game,” said Krystal Noiseux, coordinator of both the Graduate Green Living Program and the competition.

In last year’s competition, Holmes barely edged out Hastings in the final week.

Scores are tracked weekly based on two factors: percent energy reduction compared with the previous month, and percentage of residents who have taken the Harvard Sustainability Pledge online, which was e-mailed to everyone in the university earlier this year. To cut energy consumption, residents are encouraged to take simple steps, such as unplugging chargers, allowing computers to enter sleep mode, and using fluorescent light bulbs provided by student representatives of the program.

The competition is part of a larger push at Harvard, where the administration has redoubled its environmental efforts since its Greenhouse Gas Task Force set new reduction targets. The university formally announced the targets at this October’s event featuring alumnus Al Gore. The goal-a 30 percent reduction in emissions by 2016-is widely viewed as ambitious, especially given the University’s plans for expansion. Whether Harvard can attain this goal will likely depend on students developing good habits for saving energy.

Student response to the call to action at the law school has been modest, though several in the losing dorms seemed galvanized when told of the first week’s standings. “We’re coming back,” said 1L Marianna Jackson with determination, when told that her dorm, Dane, was a dismal fifth in the rankings.

Others vowed to take the online pledge and remember to turn off their overhead lights. Still others had more drastic ideas. “I’ll just go work in the library,” said LLM Jon Darrow, having just installed a fluorescent blub in his desk lamp. “Then I won’t even need to use these lights at all.”

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