Wednesday, July 1, 2009

More Energy News!

Steve Shadford, the College's energy engineer was doing some end-of-year calculations. This is what he wrote:

"I am finishing up a review of the utility billing for the fiscal year end for all of the buildings on campus and wanted to pay special tribute to you folks in the Sustainable Living Center for your stewardship of our precious resources. I am able to confirm that you folks have used 56% LESS electrical energy than the previous 5-year average! A job well done (with nobody asking you to do so!)"

So our 58% electrical energy reduction from the fall term was more or less continued throughout the entire year! Again, this reduction was almost wholly behavioral, as not much has been done to change the energy infrastructure in the building.

Monday, December 8, 2008

Between One Half and Two Thirds

We just received word today from Steve Shadford, the College's Energy Engineer, that North Hall's transition into the hands of environmentally- and energy-aware students caused a 58% electricity use deduction for the fall term! That means we used between one half and two thirds LESS electricity than North Hall residents from the past five years.

The blitz from Steve:

Well the results are in and I am pleased to announce that our Sustainable Living Center residents in North Hall have used 58% LESS energy during this fall semester than the occupants of the same building during comparable fall semesters over the previous 5 year period! This is remarkable. All of the students of the SLC should be commended on their stewardship of our finite resources!

I might note that this was achieved without any specific individual pledges, without working or living in the dark, and at least for the fall semester without benefit of live feedback of their electrical energy footprint (This last aspect will change in the Winter Semester as the GreenLite project will now be able to capture live data from the North Hall electrical energy meter).

I have attached a chart showing fall semester use in North Hall during the past 6 years. The green bars stand out in the crowd based upon their very short height!

Three cheers for the SLC students!

Best regards,
Steve Stephen R. Shadford, P.E., LEED AP
Energy Engineer
Dartmouth College Facilities Operations and Management
Engineering and Utilities
The green bars are US!

I'm not certain about the other residents, but this made me want to run around campus with a banner yelling "58 PERCENT!" as loud as I could.

The thing is, we didn't really do anything drastic. I'm actually not sure where such a large decrease came from. Here's what I can think of that we did.

> Used natural light when available.

> When it was dim or dark outside, we used lights when we were in the room, shut them when we weren't.

> Dried clothes on a clothesline and drying racks in the basement instead of using a dryer. Contrary to popular belief, drying clothes in a dryer doesn't really dry them much faster than air-drying. I'd guess about 1 hour for the machine and about 1.5 - 2 hours on a clothesline / drying rack, though jeans require a few more hours.

> Used one communal fridge instead of individual mini-fridges.

You'll note that our use climbed only slightly during the year. I think this additional energy use simply reflectes changes in the amount of available daylight -- we had lights on longer in November than we did in September.

Here's what our vision was to reduce electricity use, apart from the above behavioral changes:

> Install motion/light sensors so that lights are only on when natural light is insufficient, and when people are in a room.

> Remove the dryer from the dorm completely (it was used a few times by a few people).

> Change overhead lights to LEDs, put energy-sucking ventilation fans in bathroom on a separate switch (right now they both go on together, which is annoying and loud).

Can we get to zero net energy? For electricity, basic calculations show we'd need about a 1 kW photovoltaic array. That's really not much, and easily doable at North Hall. All we'd need is some funding. Anyone have a spare $8000? ...Oh right. The economy.

Monday, October 13, 2008

Winter Already?

Wee! I just sent out my first campus-wide blitz asking for applications for the Winter.
It's amazing how fast things are going--I feel like we've only just begun fall and now we're thinking about new residents and a whole new term.

I'm really excited about the shift in residents. I love who I'm living with now, but I think it'll be great to see a new dynamic in the house, with new ideas and a renewed drive to get things done.

Anyways! I hope the application process draws in a lot of people. I can't wait to find out who will be in the house next term.


Wednesday, October 1, 2008

First WND

Part of the programming for the SLC is a weekly dinner open to campus, known as the Wednesday Night Dinner (WND). Each week we have a member of the Dartmouth staff, not faculty, to speak to us about what they are doing for making Dartmouth more sustainable and what we can do to help. This week Kathy Lambert, the new Sustainability Manager talked with us about sustainability efforts on campus and what students, staff, and faculty can do to help. We also discussed President Wright's announcement that Dartmouth would reduce carbon emissions 30% by 2030, with an intermediate goal of 20% by 2015. He also announced that $12.5 million has been allocated for improvements to existing buildings.

Aside from the wonderful discussion, something even more wonderful happened. At highest count we had 67 people in the one room in Cutter Shebazz, our wonderful neighbors. This was a tremendous turnout for an event such as this. We blitzed out to campus a couple times advertising and had gotten around 40 RSVPs back, so we planned to cook for about 50, mostly so we might have leftovers for snacking on. Luckily we either did the math wrong or the recepie was a tad off but we had about 8 gallons of extra rice/veggie mix for stuffing our eggplants. While our 50 or so Meditterrainian style stuffed eggplants got gobbled up quite fast the extra rice stuffing made feeding the scores of people possible. A big shout out to Matt Cloyd for organizing the dinner as well as everyone who helped out making it awesome!

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

The First Week

So....we're finally in. Its been a lot of work, a lot of envisioning, but now that there are real, live humans inhabiting the space, I think its come to life a little bit. Throwing together the opening event was a lot of work, and it became apparent to me very quickly just how much the 19 of us are capable of doing when working together. The event was a great success thanks to everyone's hard work, and I look forward to seeing that sort of potential being realized in more concrete ways. Firstly, with the removal of that f*$^ing vending machine. 

I hope everyone feels good about their jobs and starts thinking about ways to make them useful. Go crazy! Take some initiative! Make the position dynamic and interesting so that the people who come after you are inspired to follow. We could really do a lot to this house this term if people aren't afraid to do it. 

Hope everyone is well, and a special thanks to Kate for maintaining the website and blog and parents saw the pictures of the event online tonight and called me (lovingly) a "hippie" for wearing sandals with my dress shirt. Oh, parents.

SLC Love

Thursday, September 25, 2008


In part for historical purposes - reflecting on our personal development as participants and documenting the overall development of the SLC - I thought it would be a cool idea to have a blog that anyone living here or involved can contribute to; have something go up at least every week. It also serves as a more interactive part of the website, which I hope people will frequent and provide ideas and content for expansion.

We want sustainability to be for everyone, and a blog is a great window onto our own experiments!

A few entry ideas if you want to contribute but don't know where to start:
- Experience adapting to any lifestyle changes
- Ideas/visions for the SLC
- Things you love (or don't love!)
- A project you took on, how it's going, how you're contributing
- What you learned or did at an event
- Impact on Dartmouth
- Review of a book you read (for class; from our library, ...)
- Great recipe you tried
- Cool things you heard about in sustainability

Sentences, paragraphs, essays, creative stories envisioning the SLC 10 years from now: anything!

It's looking like a great fall.