Time and again, Yale students have called for a more sustainable university. Soon, we will start to have one: Yale is going clean.
Connecticut has committed to aggressive energy goals, and Yale has seized the opportunity to be a leader within the state and the nation by investing in clean, renewable energy now. In just the last year, Yale has created and started to fulfill a bold and innovative energy plan that uses funds created from energy savings to support purchases of renewable energy credits. Energy savings in Yale’s residential colleges pave the way for Yale to begin purchasing renewable energy for the residential colleges. By combining clean energy projects with energy efficiency in a system-wide policy, Yale will reduce costs and set an example for universities and institutions around the world.
The student response to Yale’s efforts has been overwhelming — we have played a significant role in developing a renewable energy future for our university. Students realize that energy efficiency and conservation are the best way to reduce energy consumption. Through a campaign managed by New Haven Action, a majority of on-campus students have agreed to support temperature changes in their rooms to conserve energy, The Student Taskforce for Environmental Partnership has distributed energy efficient light bulbs and provided informational e-mails on additional steps that student can take to save energy:,
Students living on campus will continue to conserve energy in their residential colleges by controlling temperatures, turning off lights, using energy efficient light bulbs and unplugging appliances. What are the results of these students’ commitments? Yale’s residential colleges have saved over 9.1 percent compared to the amount of energy used last year. That’s the equivalent to preventing over 1,100 metric tons of carbon dioxide from entering the air and over 1,800 barrels of oil from being burned.
Last semester, University President Richard Levin outlined the University’s short-term goal: a 5 percent reduction in overall energy use by the end of the school year. Not only have students met the challenge set forth by Levin, they have far exceeded it. And students aren’t stopping there. For the past week, STEP has led the Yale Unplugged campaign to encourage Yale students to continue conserving energy by unplugging their appliances over spring break. Brightly colored chalkings across Old Campus remind students to ensure that their windows are closed, the heat is turned off and that lights and appliances are turned off while they have vacated the dorms. The Yale Unplugged campaign also proposes ways to save energy while students are still on campus — power management features for computers should be on, washing machines should be run with full loads of laundry and with cold or warm (not hot) water and appliances with an Energy Star denoting efficiency should be used.
But neither Yalies nor university officials should be content to merely commit and conserve; they are seeking to invest in renewable sources of power as well. As non-renewable energy costs rise every year due to dwindling supplies and rising demand, the best way to combat this is to invest in renewable sources. The cost of solar power has dropped by an average of 20 percent each time production doubles, and wind power, the fastest growing electricity source, is becoming cost-competitive with natural gas in states across the country. By maximizing energy efficiency and converting to clean energy, Yale can provide a buffer against future energy crises and budget shortfalls.
Students have responded to Yale’s goals with vigor, much in the way that the Yale administration has energetically taken on the proposed goals for clean energy and a sustainable university. In the coming months, Yale students will have the opportunity to completely meet the conservation goals and support additional clean energy purchases. Let’s keep going clean.
Brittney Hunt is a junior in Pierson College. Rachel Winer is a senior in Jonathan Edwards College.