January 28, 2014

Student Assembly Honors New Organization For Its Green Efforts

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To recognize Energy Corps — a new student organization that saved Cornell more than $35,000 last year through sustainability projects — the Student Assembly “spotlighted” the organization on Dec. 5 at the S.A.’s final meeting of the semester.

Energy Corps was one of the first organizations on campus to be the subject of the S.A.’s organizational spotlight, a new initiative to honor exceptional student groups that are taking action to address tough issues in the Cornell community.

“They’re an action-oriented student group promoting energy sustainability and efficiency — not only promoting it, but putting it into practice, which is amazing,” said Ian Harris ’16, S.A. vice president of public relations.

Founded in 2012, the organization focuses on helping Cornell achieve zero-emissions — a goal of of the University’s Climate Action Plan for 2015 — by switching out older light bulbs with compact fluorescent bulbs or LED lights to increasing energy efficiency on campus, according to Maria Jiang ’16, Energy Corps’ vice president.

Jiang said the organization also may expand its efforts into other sustainability arenas, such as heating, with “Cozy Toes,” a space heater that uses only 50 watts of electricity per hour, rather than the 1,500 watts required by normal space heaters.

In addition, the group is pioneering a Green Revolving Fund that on-campus organizations can use to fund their sustainability projects. The fund is set to launch “very, very soon,” said Kira Gidron grad, a former co-president of Energy Corps who now plays an advisory role in the organization.

Jiang also said the S.A.’s recognition sparked excitement among club members.

“The Student Assembly really serves as the voice of the student body, and it was really cool to be supported by them and to know that they recognize our efforts moving forward,” she said. “Internally, it gives us further motivation and encouragement that our efforts are significant to the campus.”

Energy Corps aims to become the go-to sustainability organization on campus, said Tim Cook ’14, a member of Energy Corps.

“We work right now with the Energy and Sustainability office, and we’re starting to gain more of a name with [facilities services],” he said. “It’d be very nice if we could become partners with [officials] at Cornell that take care of the campus, [so that] they can come to us for help and advice when they’re interested in doing sustainability projects.”

A large component of Energy Corps’ mission also lies in research, according to Cook. Over the past year it has focused in particular on motion sensors and fluorescent lighting, he said.

Energy Corps is not alone in its quest for sustainability, Gidron said.

“This is definitely a wave that’s happening all around the US, and we think we’re early adopters and riding this wave pretty early,” she said.