Students in the Sustainability Studies 334 class started a campaign called “Education is Power,” which aims to reduce UNM’s electricity use by 10 percent. Students are working closely with UNM’s Physical Plant Department and taking classroom energy audits across campus, beginning with Northrop Hall.
Through classroom presentations that took place Oct. 19 and 21, SUB advertisements and direct appeals to faculty and students, PPD is hoping to gain the student and staff support in reducing electrical use:
• Turn off the lights
• Open the blinds
• Unplug the power strip (phantom load)
• Wear a sweater
Part of the campaign involves getting students and staff to turn off classroom lights. During the day, campus rooms can be lit by natural light. Campaigners are asking students and staff to take it upon themselves, turn off lights and open blinds in all of their classes.
For night classes, students simply turn off the lights if they’re the last person to leave. Another part of the campaign is getting people to reduce phantom loads. A phantom load is the energy that an electronic device is using when it is off but still plugged in. That little green light on your DVD player means it’s still consuming energy. According to the U.S. Department of Energy, 75 percent of the energy used to power electronics is consumed while those appliances are off. Unplugging unused electronics reduces energy consumption and can be accomplished by unplugging classroom computers at night and in computer labs when they close.
So why should students care about reducing UNM’s electricity use?
Reducing energy use not only lessens our impact on the Earth, but it saves money, too. UNM spends around $30 million a year on utilities. Reducing that by 10 percent saves $3 million a year. That’s around 250 million pounds of CO2 saved from entering our atmosphere every year. UNM is also facing a $27 million budget cut next year, which will likely result in tuition
increases, class cancellation and a student internship reduction.
Sustainability Studies students are hoping to convince the Board of Regents and President Schmidly to use the money saved through this campaign to save classes and guarantee that tuition will not increase next year.
Small changes make a big difference. By fostering sustainable behavior at school and getting people to commit to take the next step, Sustainability Studies students are hoping to create good habits that other students and staff will take home with them. Students hope to create awareness of our individual responsibility and our growing footprint.
Turning off the lights is an easy way to save resources and money. How can you argue with that? Sign our “Education is Power” commitment. Turn off the lights when you leave the room. Open the blinds. Unplug your power strip. Wear a sweater.