Feb. 18, 2009
Luther College’s second annual campus Energy Evolution campaign, held in conjunction with February’s National Energy Awareness Month, is in full swing with educational events and activities encouraging the campus community to “reduce their use.”
Co-sponsored by the student Environmental Concerns Organization and the college’s Sustainability Initiative, the 2009 Energy Evolution is titled “Energy Evolution: Conserving for a Cleaner Planet.” The project promotes a culture of lower energy consumption.
“Students don’t usually make a connection from mountaintop mining to coal-fired power plants to light switches, but we’re hoping to change that,” said Megan Selvig, a senior environmental studies major and ECO member at Luther. “With Energy Evolution, we are tapping into the excitement that surrounds a college campus and ultimately using it to help this campus become more sustainable.”
Earlier in the month, the campaign featured electricity and water energy fairs at which students volunteered for room audits measuring their energy usage. “Heat,” a two-hour PBS documentary about the issue of global climate change, was also shown on campus followed by a discussion lead by Luther professors Jim Martin-Schramm and Todd Pedlar.
An upcoming Luther Energy 101 presentation will discuss the effect of the college’s current investments in energy efficiency as well as the possibilities of producing electricity with wind turbines and heat from biomass boilers.
“Luther College has already done great things with energy efficiency on campus, reducing our carbon footprint by 15 percent, but one aspect that is often overlooked is the savings from energy conservation,” Selvig said.
Selvig, who helped calculate the college’s carbon footprint, worked closely with Luther’s director of facilities services during the summers of 2007 and 2008 to inventory all of Luther’s greenhouse gas emissions beginning with the 2002-03 academic year.
“The energy choices we make have lasting implications on the health of this planet, so why not start conserving now?” Selvig asked.
Other upcoming Energy Evolution events include a phantom load power energy fair, a campus blackout, and energy reduction competitions between residence halls on campus. Prizes for on-campus competitions include solar-powered iPods, Netflix subscriptions and bicycles.
New to this year’s campaign is “Energy Challenge 2009,” a competition between Luther and their rival, Wartburg College, to see which school can reduce the most energy.
Both colleges determined their “normal” energy usage in February. February 2009 energy use will be compared to the norm to determine which school will be awarded a trophy and banner to display until next year’s Energy Evolution campaign.
“Last year we competed against about 30 other colleges across the country, but this year we are focusing our efforts on beating Wartburg in energy reduction,” said Selvig. “We hope the competition with Wartburg will spur excitement because it is another chance to face our rival school and help Luther reduce energy use at the same time.”
During the 2008 Energy Evolution, Luther experienced a two percent net reduction in energy use from February 2007. This year’s campaign hopes to see an even greater reduction in energy consumption across campus by five percent, saving the college $15,000.
For more information about Energy Evolution, visit www.luther.edu/about/sustainability/challenge.html or contact Luther sustainability coordinator Caleb Mattison (firstname.lastname@example.org).