New initiative for Greek housing to go green; starts with lightbulbs

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By Samuel Richter

A new environmental initiative by the Greek community at Union is helping make this campus a safer environment for students and faculty.

Led by Stacie Schwartz ‘13, Ben Foreman ‘15 and Anna Gagnon ‘14, the Union College Greek Sustainability Task Force Team is making an impact on campus.

Last week, the team began their first project by replacing all of the incandescent light bulbs in fraternity and sorority houses with energy-efficient light bulbs.

The project was started when Economics Professor Doug Klein held a class focused on finding energy efficient ways to reduce energy consumption on campus.

After conducting a survey with the freshman class and discovering which kind of light bulbs were being used throughout campus, Klein realized that there could be a significant reduction in energy consumption if the light bulbs were changed from incandescent bulbs to LED lights.

There are plans to apply for a Presidential Green Grant next year in order to help with the energy consumption costs. Schwartz described how the Greek program could become involved: “Facilities works with National Grid for incentives and are always looking for energy efficiency upgrades. They were told about the small business program, which is one of many programs National Grid has.

The buildings that qualify for the small business program requirements were Potter, Raymond, Hickock, Edwards and Fero because these Greek houses seemed fitting due to the newly formed Greek sustainability task force that was involved to administer the program.”

Schwartz wanted to let the campus know about the group and the plans for the future: “We’re a newly formed group that just started in the winter and we’re hoping to take on many new projects including improving recycling at Greek social events and having a water awareness day at the end of spring term. We counted all the bulbs, and then walked door to door of all the qualifying Greek houses to replace the bulbs and educate the Greeks on why LED bulbs are better than incandescent bulbs. Because it is close to the end of the academic year, each person who received their bulb understood that they had to bring their new bulb back to campus next year.”

Before the term ends, the group also hopes to hold an event for water bottle awareness and the amount of unrecyclable plastic wasted on campus, and what students can do to conserve resources and promote a more Earth-friendly environment for many years to come.

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