Campus Pledges To Conserve Energy

Organizers of the Harvard Green Campus Initiative (HGCI) say they were not anticipating several thousand members of the Harvard community to pledge their support for a new energy-conservation initiative. The results proved a pleasant surprise.

Jaclyn E. Emig, HGCI’s Longwood campus coordinator, said the program’s following this fall was more than she had hoped for. The Campus Sustainability Pledge campaign garnered support from 4,300 students and faculty.

“It exceeded our expectations because we had more pledges than the ‘Go Cold Turkey’ campaign last year, and when you start something new you usually have to build it up,” Emig said.

The Go Cold Turkey campaign was the predecessor of the Campus Sustainability Pledge, which debuted this fall. During its three-year lifespan, Go Cold Turkey advocated prudent energy use by students and faculty during the Thanksgiving holiday. The new pledge initiative, which asks students and faculty to submit a checklist of the ways in which they promise to conserve energy, is part of the larger “emPower Harvard” campaign.

The checklist that HGCI distributed throughout campus asks participants to check off boxes that suggest different ways they can conserve energy on a daily basis.

“Make sure that my computer is set to go into sleep mode,” and “make double-sided copies” are among the document’s suggestions.

According to HGCI, the University promised campus buildings with 50 percent participation in the program that it would offset 10 percent of their greenhouse-gas emissions for one year by purchasing wind energy.

Twenty-one Harvard buildings met this 50-percent requirement, according to an announcement by HGCI.

The wind power that Harvard will purchase as a reward will offset 6.5 million pounds of greenhouse gases, equivalent to removing almost 500 cars from the road for a year, according to a press release from the organization.

Emig emphasized the indirect benefits of educating a university about conservation—in addition to the immediate impact that it has on the environment.

“When one university hears about another investing in green power, it creates competition,” Emig said. “There is a lot of collaboration among universities, and when you hear about another university doing something it encourages you to do the same thing.”