March 1, 2010

Lights Out Initiative Flips New Switch

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It is commonplace to see late-night lights in the various buildings at Cornell. One usually suspects the presence of some poor graduate students burning the proverbial midnight oil. It was one of those students stalking the halls of Rockefeller Hall, physics grad Jolyon Bloomfield, who noticed that late at night, there were many cheerily lit but utterly vacant classrooms. Further investigation showed that, on any given night, around 10 classrooms in Rockefeller Hall had their lights on the whole time.

In October of last year, the Sun published an article about Jolyon Bloomfield’s campaign against the ecological harms and lost capital that result from leaving lights on overnight. In this article was a description of his activities over fall break, when he recruited members of the Environmental Committee to “attack” the Arts quad and turn off any lights that they found. It was calculated that their efforts saved the university three dollars an hour each night over fall break. Further calculations based on Bloomfield’s rounds in Rockefeller Hall suggest that Cornell could be saving 60,000 dollars per year. It was reported in October that Bloomfield hoped for action from the university administration based on these statistics.

Since then, Bloomfield has changed tactics. He has acknowledged that the idea of having the university pay students to rampage the arts quad spreading darkness is not financially feasible. Instead, he is hopeful that environmentally conscious or community service oriented volunteers might be motivated to rampage. With a task force at his disposal, he is organizing a new version of his project. The project that he currently proposes aims to establish a group of students, who may through buildings at the end of each day to switch off lights. By entering data about their rounds into a database, Bloomfield hopes they can track the impact of the endeavor.

The project is still in its infancy. Last year’s efforts revealed the possible benefits, and all that remains is for Bloomfield to organize the project and finalize the strategy. While the project is not currently ready to gather volunteers, when the time comes to recruit volunteers, the project leaders will turn to the various ecological and sustainability societies on campus for aid.

Original Author: Corrine Thomas