September 20, 2011

Cornellians Commit to Energy-Saving Initiatives Through CALS Green

Print More

The CALS Green pilot initiative announced 1.6 million pounds of pledged carbon savings and close to 180,000 dollars of conserved energy since the program began in 2009. When the pilot project finishes in two months, the program may make recommendations to the University for expansion, according to Lauren Chambliss, the project director for CALS Green.

CALS Green is an energy conservation and sustainability initiative by the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences launched as a part of President David Skorton’s Cornell Climate Action Plan. CALS Green uses social networking and Internet tools to inform building users about methods of reducing their carbon footprint.

Following the CCAP, CALS administrators recognized the college’s role as a large energy consumer. CALS conducted a survey to assess people’s level of awareness and willingness to conserve energy before launching CALS Green, according to Chambliss.

Chambliss said the results showed enthusiasm among the faculty, staff and students at CALS to conserve energy.

CALS Green modeled its program after the research project Prof. Susan Fussell, communication, started at Carnegie Mellon University to promote sustainability within the dormitories, Chambliss said.

The program used exchange mechanism and competition between the dorms to encourage energy conservation. Taking directly from this program, CALS Green modified the program for office use and started a competition between six buildings in CALS: Bradfield, Comstock, Morrison, Plant Science, Wing and Barton Lab.

Dominic Frongillo ’05, a coordinator for CALS Green, explained that the six buildings are ranked according to four factors: the percentage of people signing up for CALS Green, online commitments to save energy and the respective dollar savings, weekly sign-ins to recommit and the actual energy reductions. The highest-ranked building at the end of the pilot project will win a building-wide party, according to CALS Green’s website.

Green Teams are essential parts of the CALS Green competition, serving as the “eyes and ears” of the building, Frongillo said. Each of the six buildings has a Green Team that helps members stay committed to their energy-saving pledges.

“This initiative is important because it is requesting people to step up and to take responsibility and to acknowledge the challenge that we have,” Frongillo said.

As a Cornell alumnus, Frongillo said he recognized the change in the University’s sustainability. Mentioning the destruction of the Redbud Woods in 2005, he said CALS Green represents a “huge change.”

Others echoed his sentiments and described specific actions Green Teams are taking to reduce their carbon footprints.

“Much of Wing Hall’s energy systems are now automated, but building occupants have committed to other energy-saving measures, such as closing fume hood sashes when not in use, double-sided printing, adjusting power settings on computers,” Cathy Shappell, Wing Hall building coordinator, stated in an email.

Along with the actual energy savings, the initiative aims to spread awareness about sustainability, Chambliss said.

“The ultimate goal of CALS Green is to give the people the tools they need, in a user friendly and motivating manner, so that individuals are conscious of what they can do to save energy and empowered to make a difference,” Chambliss said. “We know from surveys that the vast majority of people in the CALS community want to do the right thing; they just are not sure what they can do as individuals to make their work space more efficient and sustainable.”

Original Author: Manu Rathore