With campus conservation, less is more

Groups ranging from the student-run Geneseo Environmental Organization to the expansive Campus Auxiliary Services have recently expanded their efforts to reduce the amount of resources that the campus consumes, taking advantage of outlets such as contests and new technologies to push their objective.

GEO has been instrumental in increasing awareness about students' environmental impact, most notably with their second Energy and Water Conservation Contest. The contest, which began Oct. 5 and will run until Nov. 30, offers the most efficient hall a breakfast party at the end of the contest. Allegany Hall was the victor last year.

Though GEO has not released an official statement on the contest's impact, junior president Alicia Kowsky said there's been, "at least a 16% reduction in energy use from hall to hall."

CAS has also implemented several ways to conserve water and energy throughout campus, most notably the installation of new laundry machines on the south side of campus. In addition to conserving water, the machines take more water out of washed clothing so that drying requires less time and energy.

The machines, which take advantage of the online machine availability notification Web site www.LaundryView.com, cost approximately $85,000, according to CAS Executive Director Ed Abbott.

According to CAS Marketing Coordinator Becky Stewart, the machines have saved over 100,000 gallons of water. CAS plans to expand the laundry system across campus.

"Saving water is important because the less water used, the more energy saved," said Stewart.

CAS has also worked with the vending machine company Loose Ends to install "VendMiser" units into the 35 vending machines on campus. This device detects movement in the area where it is located and allows the refrigeration in each machine to turn off during times where there are no people around it.

"This is great for academic buildings, because traffic there slows considerably after a certain time each day," explained CAS Director of Dining Ginny Geer-Mentry.

GEO also plans to expand its efforts to get the campus to pay attention to conservation issues. Members have recently attended Powershift 2007, a conference focused on reducing global warming. "Our members were really excited about that," said Kowsky. "And we want to bring that energy to the campus."

In the future, GEO is planning to again host events centered around environmental issues, such as last semester's screening of "An Inconvenient Truth."

Kowsky is a member of the SUNY Environmental Impact and Sustainability Task Force, a group on campus that is comprised of students, staff and faculty who evaluate campus-wide functions to ensure they are environmentally friendly.

"It's good to be on the board and be able to take action on the student side," Kowsky said.

On-campus buildings, such as the Union, have also recently become more environmentally friendly. Charles "Chip" Matthews, director of the College Union and Activities, has taken several steps to increase student awareness.

Different energy-using devices, such as the LCD display at the entrance to the mailroom and the fountain located on the main floor, now work on timers to save energy when the Union is not open. The College Union newsletter was also switched from paper to e-mail, resulting in what Matthews noticed as a significant change in the amount of paper used in the Union.

"We want to reduce what we can first, and then recycle after that," he said.

The dining halls, all run by CAS, have also made changes to decrease energy use. Geer-Mentry cited the switch to reusable utensils in Mary Jemison.

"That switched caused an enormous difference in waste, as well as reduced the amount of times the dumpster has to be emptied, saving more energy," she said.

CAS is also in the planning stages of creating a compost pile for a community garden to be put in the Roemer Arboretum.

"We would take fruit and vegetable waste from food preparation," explained Geer-Mentry, "and put that into a compost pile, hopefully creating a sustainable garden that the campus could use as a food source."

English professor Ken Cooper said that he noticed changes in conservation around campus.

"To the best of my knowledge, [the college as a whole] is trying to move past just recycling bottles and cans," he said. "In the last couple of years, it's started to come on the radar."