Polar Bear Energy Challenge Update

Story posted March 01, 2012

      In the spirit of the 2nd Annual Polar Bear Energy Challenge, academic and service buildings all over campus are shutting off lights, putting computers to sleep, and unplugging unnecessary electronics. Sustainable Bowdoin met up with several departments to figure out just what steps people are taking to help Bowdoin reduce its energy consumption.

      Maybe you’ve noticed that Thorne’s servery lights are off during the day time? Or that Moulton has a different atmosphere at dinner with dimmed lights? That’s because both dining halls are in the game. Thorne’s Daran Poulin shared some of Thorne’s secrets: turning off lights, ovens, computers, and the dishwashing machine. These sound simple enough, but they have helped Thorne save 2.6% in their overall energy usage. Daran is convinced, too, that these practices can continue the rest of the semester. By encouraging the dishroom staff to use the machine only when the conveyor belt can be filled, or the chefs to turn on the ovens only when they’re about to be used, Thorne can use its resources more efficiently.

      Moulton’s Head Chef, David Crooker, shared similar tactics of hightened efficiency regarding the use of their ovens and dish machine. But because Moulton Dining is located partially underground, lighting is more challenging than at Thorne. Instead, dining employees try to shut the lights off between meals and turn them on just before breakfast or dinner begins. In the upstaris of the Moulton Union, the offices of Student Affairs, Residential Life, the Registrar and the Career Planning Center (CPC) are also vigilant about using natural light. Thanks to some eye-catching posters and encouragement by the building's Office EcoReps, Moulton has reduced their energy consumption by 3.6%.

      Shawn Gerwig, Office EcoRep for the McKeen Center for the Common Good, says that employees in Banister Hall are taking full advantage of their south-facing windows. They turn off all of the lights during the sunny days. Over at H & L Library, the staff advertises the energy challenge on their bulletin board and added special signs by the elevator encouraging people to take the stairs. Smith Union’s Office EcoRep, Chris Taylor, helped put signs up in all of the building’s restrooms that read  “WE’RE IN THE GAME! 2ND ANNUAL POLAR BEAR ENERGY CHALLENGE, COMPETE TO REDUCE, BE COMMITTED.”

      By taking small steps, academic buildings and dorms have saved 7,841 Kilowatt hours, $1,018, and 6,053 pounds of CO2  in just the first two and a half weeks of the challenge.  And there’s still one week left!