Given the emerging data on climate change and increasing complexities in obtaining oil, energy conservation is becoming more urgent by the day. Here at Yale, as an institution and as individuals, we should take a leadership role in this pressing campaign for conservation.
In the 1990s, the University took measures to increase the efficiency of our energy systems through the construction of the Central Power Plant next to Swing Space and through renovations of Sterling Power Plant. While these changes were certainly steps in the right direction, the University has not yet committed to an aggressive energy campaign that would reduce energy demand campuswide.
Roberto Meinrath, deputy director of utilities, estimates our energy consumption could be reduced by at least 20 percent. Various programs have been proposed in an effort to realize this potential savings.
For example, the establishment of goals and indicators of energy consumption and conservation would be the first step in understanding our current practices and how they could be less wasteful. Moreover, current policies for nighttime, weekend and holiday temperature setbacks could be more strict and instituted on a larger scale.
The University could encourage members of its community to reduce their personal energy use by directly rewarding changed behavior.
Such a program could work by monitoring the energy use of residential colleges and academic departments and sharing the monetary profits of decreased energy consumption. Furthermore, the University could commit to energy efficiency as a priority in renovations and the construction of new buildings.
Not only does Yale have the capability to conserve energy, but also the obligation. With increased energy consumption comes increased emissions, contributing to New Haven’s already existing air pollution problems.
Such pollution correlates with respiratory ailments, as can be seen by the high incidence of asthma among New Haven youth. As New Haven residents already are victims of I-91/I-95 pollution and with the local “Sooty Six” power plant emissions, it becomes all the more important that Yale minimizes its contribution to overall emissions.
But our obligation extends beyond our local commitment, reaching to the larger international community. The burning of fossil fuels contributes significantly to climate change, which today is a pressing international concern.
By conserving energy, and thereby reducing our emissions, we lessen our contribution to this global problem. In keeping with Yale’s history of leadership and service, Yale should be at the forefront to meet the challenge of climate change. An easy first step is a University-led aggressive energy conservation campaign.
Jude Joffe-Block is a sophomore in Berkeley College. Phillip Gorrindo is a junior in Morse College.