Tuesday, September 21, 2010

On Campus Green Living

Computers, pajama pants, alarm clocks, and textbooks. As summer transitions into fall and beach vacations turn into a mere photo book memory, thousands of students across the country prepare to head back to college to further their education. This is an exciting time for students who often find themselves living on their own for the first time in university residence halls. Residence halls have transformed from just simply a place to sleep to a space where personal and educational growth is encouraged. Residence halls are often a key factor in students’ determination of what university to attend and administrators take this into consideration when undertaking renovation and new development projects of their facilities. In recent years, DePaul University’s has taken sustainability seriously and their Department of Housing Services’ efforts to make their campus green is having a positive impact on the environment.

The Department of Housing Services has installed low-flow showerheads and toilets to help conserve water and encourage students to minimize their shower time to maximize environmental benefits. Each residence hall is also equipped with recycling bins and trashcans to assist students in separating recyclables from non-recyclables. All DePaul residence hall rooms utilize Compact Florescent Lamps (CFLs) in overhead lighting to save energy and last longer. ENERGYSTAR estimates that CFLs use about 75% less energy than standard incandescent bulbs and lasts up to 10 times longer. DePaul encourages students who buy additional desk lamps to purchase items that are compatible with these bulbs to help save on energy costs. All washers and dryers found within the residence hall laundry rooms are also ENERGYSTAR rated appliances. While they save on water and energy usage, students can help the environment further by only washing clothing in cold water and not overloading the machines to ensure they work efficiently.

Twitter, facebook, youtube, Wii, Xbox, and Netflix. All of these items are forms of social media, entertainment and enjoyment for younger generations. As our world becomes more technologically/electronically dependent, it is no surprise that universities are concerned with energy consumption. DePaul University advises students to keep all major electronic objects unplugged when not in use and to buy electronics and appliances with an ENERGYSTAR seal. ENERGYSTAR estimates that televisions with their seal use 75% less energy in standby mode than other models. DePaul also states that desktop computers waste around $164 per year by sitting idle. Taking simple steps to unplug electronics when not in use will not only save on energy costs but will contribute to a more sustainable environment.

Many college students utilize their newfound freedom from parental control as an opportunity to sleep whenever they desire. DePaul’s residence hall mattresses are made from raw materials that are environmentally safe and are 100% recyclable allowing students to rest easy knowing that they are environmentally friendly. For those mid-day naps between class, students have the ability to catch some shuteye while benefitting the environment by utilizing their window treatments that also help conserve energy transfer in their room. Blocking the sunlight in warmer months allows for their room to remain cool and will require less electricity as there is no need for air conditioning and fans to run.

Other environmentally friendly updates DePaul has made to their residence hall rooms include wood furniture that are made of materials that only come from sustainable farms that are coated in an environmentally friendly UV finish. As residence halls continue to be updated, DePaul is utilizing a new flooring technology that uses carpet tiles rather than rolls or large pieces. Utilizing carpet tiles is more sustainable to replace as students often spill or track dirt into their room, impacted tiles will only need to be replaced rather than entire rooms; this cuts down on cost and saving on excessive materials.

Despite all of DePaul University’s strides to make the campus a more sustainable place, their efforts alone are not enough. Students much become more aware of their surroundings and make conscious decisions about energy consumption and conservation.

By: Jacob Adams

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