Groups push for new energy plans

Nearly three weeks after the announcement of a sweeping University emissions reduction initiative, several student environmental groups have introduced an energy pledge listing steps students can take to reduce energy consumption on an individual basis.

The pledge — which will be posted online today and distributed in hard copy at events throughout the next few weeks until Thanksgiving break — lists eight specific strategies to reduce energy waste, including a provision requesting that residential college energy managers reduce dorm room temperatures to 66 from 68 degrees during the day and by another three to five degrees at night.

Though Yale administrators said the student commitment will be important in reaching an overall goal of reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 10 percent of 1990 levels within the next 15 years, some students said the pledge alone will not be enough to effect change.

Provost Andrew Hamilton said the pledge and other student contributions to the University’s efforts are vital if the University is to meet its stated goal.

“If we are going to reach our goals of [carbon dioxide] emissions reduction, then it will only be in partnership with all members of the community, but particularly the students in Yale College who live within Yale,” he said.

Energy Manager Thomas Downing said the administration intends for energy conservation to account for at least 10 percent of the total decrease in emissions.

Whitney Haring-Smith ’07, executive director of New Haven Action — which is leading the effort to raise awareness about the pledge — said the combined effort will place some of the burden to reduce emission on the shoulders of students.

“It’s a pledge that Yale students and administration came together on,” he said.

Haring-Smith said his group is aiming for 70 percent of all students to sign the pledge, though the exact number of signatures will not affect final decisions by the University. The signature total is less important than student actions to conserve energy, he said, including unplugging computers, lights and appliances when they are not in use and washing only full loads of laundry with cold water.

Some of the conservation strategies listed in the pledge — including the replacement of incandescent light bulbs with compact fluorescent bulbs — are not new ideas, but the pledge will be important for calling students to action, Student Taskforce for Environmental Partnership energy coordinator Dominic Albino ’07 said.

“It’s not repeating, ‘You should do X, Y and Z,’” he said. “It’s getting students to be engaged and actively thinking about their behaviors.”

Some students said they would be willing to cooperate with the conservation efforts by requesting local temperature decreases when necessary.

“I would do it,” Leeron Avnery ’06 said. “My room is way too hot.”

But some students said they are concerned about the long-term viability of the pledge.

“Unless you’re seeing other people follow through on it, it won’t work,” Andrei Izurov ’07 said.

University officials have pledged that for every five percent of a residential college’s energy usage that is reduced, Yale will buy a third of the electricity for that college with renewable sources, so-called “green-energy,” which is more expensive but produces lower emissions.

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