Reduce, Reduce, and Reduce: An Overview of Skidmore Unplugged 2015

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by Patricia McGuire ’17

For the past seven years, the Sustainability Office and Sustainability Reps (S-Reps) have organized a three-week electricity reduction competition as a way to reduce our environmental impact as a college, and to increase student awareness and engagement in sustainability. During “Unplugged,” eight campus residence halls compete to reduce their overall electricity consumption. To determine the winner, a baseline is calculated to establish each hall’s average daily electricity usage. Throughout the competition, the S-Reps track changes in each hall’s energy consumption, and the hall with the greatest percent reduction is named the winner.

This year, Skidmore Unplugged began with a kick-off lecture by Dominic Frongillo, five-time UN delegate and youngest ever town councilmember in Caroline, NY. He inspired students to get involved in sustainability efforts at a local level, and illustrated how local efforts can evolve into larger initiatives with even greater impact. Other notable events included a dialogue on the privilege of “unplugging” with Skidmore’s Office of Student Diversity Programs, an acoustic concert in collaboration with Lively Lucy’s, a lip-sync battle, and another motivating lecture by Elizabeth Yeampierre. Elizabeth is the executive director of UPROSE, Brooklyn’s oldest Latino community organization promoting community-based climate justice and resiliency, and was recently named one of Vogue’s Climate Warriors, along with 12 other women. Click here for a response from Rula Issa, a student assistant in OSDP who helped organize the UPROSE lecture. These events served not only to inspire students, but also to educate our community on the importance of behavior change in our daily lives.

Wilmarth Hall reduced their electricity consumption by 7% and was named the 2015 Skidmore Unplugged champion. The hall will receive a new water bottle refill station, and their name will be forever engraved on the student-designed trophy on display in Case Center. Wiecking Hall also had a strong showing this year, reducing their electricity consumption by 3%.

Educational institutions across the country have been taking steps to reduce their carbon footprint and impact on the environment, and Skidmore is no exception. As of 2015, 45% of Skidmore’s electricity comes from renewable sources, 40% of the College’s heating and cooling needs are met with geothermal energy, and we continue to look for creative sustainability solutions that minimize our impact on the climate.

As S-Reps, we hope the new habits that students adopted during Unplugged will continue beyond our tenure at Skidmore, and we hope next year will bring even more participation and excitement, and of course, more electricity reduction.

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