e-Newsletter of Moravian College and Moravian Theological Seminary | April 17, 2013 Twitter Facebook

Measuring energy on campus

Over the course of the past academic year, as the In Focus theme of Sustainability took hold and gained momentum, students, faculty and staff stepped up individual and group efforts to create a more environmentally friendly and sustainable campus. Of course, there is much more to be done, and the work will continue.

In terms of energy usage, conservation contests were held on both Main Campus and South Campus initiated by interested members of the residence halls. The buildings are so different in age and technology that it was impossible to do a direct comparison of usage. Rather, each building competed against its historical electricity usage. The benchmark for comparison was the average electricity use per occupant over the preceding five years on South Campus and over the past year for North. The building with the highest percentage reduction compared to the five-year average was the winner.  Clewell and Rau Hassler were the winning dorms.

Over the four weeks of the contest on South Campus, each residence hall used less electricity per resident compared to its respective five-year average value. The performances consistently improved during each week of the contest. On North Campus, usage remained fairly consistent.

“In the future, dorm versus dorm energy competitions are planned as a means of raising students awareness regarding how personal decisions, such as turning off  lights and powering-down computers, saves energy,” says Nick DeSalvo, the LVAIC director of sustainability initiatives. “Partnering with Residence Life staff and the RAs has been instrumental in educating residents about sustainable behaviors related to personal energy usage.”

Garth Denton-Borhaug '13 worked as an intern with the Lehigh Valley Alliance for Sustainability and decided to try to combat the problem of lights left on in unattended classrooms. To do this, he placed stickers near light switches around campus to remind people to switch off the lights when they leave a room. He hopes to start a behavioral shift through the use of the stickers and posters placed around campus.

“I'm attempting to trigger a sort of bandwagon effect as more of us on campus begin to grow accustomed to remembering to turn the lights off.  If this happens, it would be a major step toward achieving this project’s primary goal of reducing energy consumption at Moravian,” writes Denton-Borhaug.

“Raising awareness of reducing our energy consumption and helping to modify the behavior of students, faculty members and staff to think seriously about their impact on the environment is just one piece of the puzzle regarding sustainability at Moravian and my internship.”

His efforts are now focused on developing recommendations for a reporting framework to measure campus sustainability which would include curriculum, operations, planning and public engagement.

“The benefits of incorporating such a framework will enrich our understanding of sustainability, help create goals and incentives towards continually improving sustainability on campus and in the surrounding community,” he adds.