Energy contest a success already as SUNY pushes green agenda

The Geneseo Environmental Organization's (GEO) Energy Saving Contest has already seen significant success since it began on March 1.

GEO President senior Stephen Tulowiecki is pleased with the results of the contest so far. "Excluding Saratoga and their recent heating troubles, we've already reduced electricity usage by about 15 percent in the Residence Halls based on March's results," he said.

The contest is part of an overall effort by SUNY to reduce energy consumption. Last month, SUNY Chancellor John R. Ryan announced a new energy saving initiative to be used throughout the SUNY system. Major components of the program include reducing energy use on campuses by 37 percent from the amount used in 1989-90 by 2014, reducing green house gas emissions 20 percent by 2014, and increasing the use of renewable energy generated on campus by 30 percent by 2014.

Tulowiecki is optimistic about the new SUNY energy saving initiatives. "Given our results for the first month of the contest, seeing what people can do if they consciously think about conserving energy is encouraging. It makes the 38 percent reduction seem realistic."

Tulowiecki stated that the idea for the contest was first thought of last year, when group members heard that SUNY Binghamton was doing a similar program. The contest has gone relatively smoothly for the group. "President Dahl and the school have been very supportive," noted Tulowiecki. GEO has about 10 members who attend meetings regularly, but also has other members who stay involved in the group. Junior Sean Soper, a group member, said, "I think our biggest challenge was coming up with a prize." He mentioned that this was difficult because most students do not stay in the same residence hall for more than one year and would not benefit from a gift to the hall. The prize the group decided on is a pizza party from Mama Mia's for the winning residence hall, so it will be something that this year's residents can enjoy.

Currently, Allegany Hall leads the contest, with Livingston, Monroe, Steuben and Genesee rounding out the top five. All halls except for Niagara and the Saratoga Terraces have decreased their energy use since the contest started. The contest started on March 1, and will continue until April 22.

Apparently, one student took the competition aspect of the contest in a different direction. One day, washers and dryers in Allegany Hall were turned on full blast without clothing, lights were turned on in unnecessary areas, and sinks were clogged and left running. Actions like this defeat the whole purpose of the contest, and Tulowiecki reiterated that anyone caught doing something to this effect will have their whole residence hall disqualified from the contest.

Soper and Tulowiecki feel that there will be more work to be done after the contest is over. Soper would like to see more conservation in academic buildings such as the College Union and Milne Library. "They have compact fluorescent bulbs (energy efficient) in all lights, but they still have areas over-lit, televisions on all the time, computers on all night in academic buildings. Changes could save the College a lot financially."