Pilot project provides students with sustainable, energy-efficient room

Thursday, May 8, 2014 - 2:59pm
Western Today staff

A residence in Buchanan Towers is showcasing modern sustainability practices demonstrating ways to cut energy and water consumption in one’s daily living.

In the winter of 2012, two Campus Sustainability Planning Studio students wrote a report on how to include energy saving technologies and practices into Western’s residence halls in efforts to reduce energy consumption and CO2 emissions. In the Spring of 2013 two students used information from that report and then applied for, and were awarded a Green Energy Fee Grant to modify a Buchanan Towers room, into the Sustainable Energy Efficiency Dorm Pilot room. Over winter break 2013, many sustainable alterations were made, including: 

  • Installation of LED lighting
  • Replacement of the refrigerator with an Energy Star energy efficient refrigerator
  • Installation of low flow faucets and toilet
  • Shower flow meter
  • Energy meters
  • Plug load meters

Along with the modifications, the occupants in the room are expected to monitor the electrical and water usage and record it on a data sheet. They work with a student staff member from the ResRap program on education components and data logging. The goal is to compile qualitative and quantitative feedback about the sustainable alterations in this room. After two years, the ResRap assistant will present this data either as a recommendation or information to University Residences so they can make informed sustainable choices for other residence hall rooms.

“What SEED has taught us this quarter is that even one plug makes a difference. We’ve seen firsthand that a small fraction of energy is always being consumed by devices on standby. And when you consider their cumulative presence on the scale of a university campus, these small fractions quickly add up to a very large whole,” said Libby Keller, SEED room resident. The slideshow below shows the two student residents using a few of the new appliances. They also keep a blog which they update weekly to share their findings with the campus community: https://seedwwu.wordpress.com/.

The SEED room is also the Buchanan Towers Discovery Days Room, open to the public for viewing on most Fridays from 3 to 5 p.m. 

The Green Energy Fee Grant Program exists to promote experiential learning opportunities and sustainable practices at Western Washington University. The GEF is funded by Western students, managed by the Office of Sustainability, and grants are chosen by the Green Energy Fee Committee, composed of students, staff, and faculty representatives.

For more information on the Green Energy Fee Grant Program, visit wwu.edu/gef.