Is it really not that easy being green?
A new program from Temple’s Office of Sustainability, the Sustainability Living and Learning Community (LLC) and Residential Life puts this theory to the test.
As part of the initiative, dorm rooms on the fourth floor of 1940 Resident Hall are being judged and rated based on how green, or environmentally friendly, they are.
The green room rating system, developed by Kathleen Grady, coordinator for the Office of Sustainability, was modeled after the LEED building certification system. Students receive silver, gold or platinum certificates, which are placed next to their doors. The certificates are meant to raise awareness about sustainable practices among floor residents.
“We have not seen this type of program implemented in any other university residence hall in Philadelphia. It’s a step in the right direction for people wanting to live green in university housing,” said Safya O’Rourke, the peer mentor at the Sustainablility LLC who spearheaded the initiative.
Holding the competition among students in the Sustainability LLC as a first step made sense because they have already expressed a personal desire to live in an eco-friendly manner. “The idea is that, by announcing their dedication through a certification, they will influence their peers to do the same,” said O’Rourke.
“Additionally, we are trying to get the showcase room that prospective students visit during campus tours to be green room certified so that incoming freshman will take conservation into consideration during their future move in,” she said.
Currently, about half of the rooms on the Sustainability LLC have been evaluated. Midway through the semester, the rooms will be reevaluated to help keep students on track.
Resident assistant Jordan Gorski, who helped to evaluate each room, said that he likes the idea of being able to give students a score that tells them how well they are doing. “It not only gives the students some insight as to how they are impacting the environment around them, but it gives them a fixed score where they can see what they did successfully and where they could improve,” he said.
Gorski said that in addition to basics, such as turning off lights when they leave their rooms, students can earn higher scores by turning off power strips when not in use or using appliances that have auto shut-off features and are Energy Star rated.
Michael Bumbry, resident director of 1940 Residence Hall, is optimistic that this friendly competition can teach students how to lessen their environmental impact. “I hope that students will learn that they have an individual impact on our environment, and that even small acts can actually have a large impact in the residence halls. More importantly, we want students to use these strategies long after they check out of our halls and graduate from Temple University,” he said.
O’Rourke echoed Bumbry’s excitement about the prospects of the competition. “I think residents are appreciating getting recognition for the steps they are taking. This positive encouragement takes a different approach from the guilt-tripping tactics of most green lifestyle campaigns,” he said.
“The future of this program looks bright and I would love to see it implemented throughout all of Temple’s dorms.”