Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Cutting Carbon One Refrigerator at a Time

In the fall I wrote about the excessive number of refrigerators Lasell College students have in the residence halls. Research by students in my Environmental Science course has identified more excessive refrigeration on campus. Faculty and staff offices! Students have been visiting faculty and staff office buildings to conduct energy use audits as part of our Green Office Challenge. While visiting these offices, students have been documenting appliances and electronics and noted a large number of refrigerators. In some buildings students noticed the ratio is close to one refrigerator per office. In Potter Hall alone, students counted 7 mini-refrigerators and they still haven't visited every office in the building.

Observations such as this are great because they provide an opportunity for action. Students can now work with the occupants of the buildings to identify how they can reduce the number of refrigerators. I won't suggest anything because I want to see what students come up with but I suspect sharing may be involved.

I really like this project because students will encounter so many of the realities in trying to green an organization. Students will likely come up with solutions that are simple and logical. However when they recommend these changes they will encounter all kinds of suprises. Changing behavior is not easy. The refrigerators may have been in use in that office for the past 10 years. Office occupants will be resistant to change.

Going green does not have to cost much but it will require some sacrifice. Faculty and staff may have to sacrifice the luxury of having a refrigerator in their office for the good of the College's carbon footprint.

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