Conservation Cup results (and win a free water bottle!)

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Don't want pollution obscuring our view of Hoover Tower, as the Beijing "fog" does to buildings in this photo!
Everybody who loves the Earth is a winner in the Green Living Council’s [Conservation Cup]( The program raises awareness of energy and water use on campus and rewards students who conserve, with free goodies paid for by other students. According to an email announcement from the Conservation Cup Director, Shira Stites, the residences with the greatest reduction in water and energy use from fall to winter are:
Hammarskjold: 26%
717 Dolores: 20%
Marx (Suites): 16%
Haus Mitteleuropa: 15%
Jerry: 15%
Slavianskii Dom: 15%
Columbae: 14%
680 Lomita: 12%

Residents of the latter 6 houses “will be awarded SIGG bottles” for their sacrifices, according to the announcement. Hamm and 717 residents will get even richer rewards, such as a “sustainable outing to the California Academy of Sciences,” according to the GLC site.

As a 680 resident, I was shocked that we ranked as the 8th greenest residence (in some sense). Judging from the inflatable pool in our backyard, the stacks of red cups we use each weekend, the space heaters and massive TVs in our rooms, and the daily fights for the high-flow shower stall, I would have said that conservation was the last thing on our minds. It’s kind of ironic that we’re getting rewarded with free stuff for winning a sustainability contest we didn’t know we were in. Also, it makes me wonder what other dorms must be doing, if we won. Running space heaters in their fridges?

Even if you lost the Cup this year, you’ll have another chance next year, thanks to your generosity on the ballot. Green Living Council will be receiving $9,823.90 in Special Fees taxes from the student body in 2010-2011, or about $1.50 per student. They will spend $3,000 on posters for Earth Day, $1,315 to make birdhouses for “fun” and “community building,” $50 for printing 500 “Green Pledge” sheets of paper, $720 on laundry racks for “behavioral changing interventions,” $2,100 on posters for other events, $1,295 on shower timers, $75 on printing 120 paper door signs, and $250 for art supplies, among other things. Don’t believe me? See next year’s GLC budget for yourself. (It was approved by 25% of all students, and 72% of those voting.)

In the past, the Cup was funded in part by the University through the Green Fund, which also provided oversight and demanded accountability, but this year and next it’s funded much more by students. It’s unfortunate that students will now have to assume a greater burden of funding a program that, in theory, significantly reduces the University’s water and power bills. Because the University considers residential water and power use data to be confidential (even though we’re their tenants), I can’t calculate the exact savings to the University from the Conservation Cup. I’ll keep trying.

Running Conservation Cup is clearly a huge task, and the intent is good. But it has the potential to be a feel-good student activity rather than a serious and realistic attempt to conserve resources.

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This water bottle, or something like it, could be yours if you win the contest!
**Contest to win my SIGG water bottle: **In the comments below, post the least green thing you’ve seen someone do in a Stanford residence. Extra points for hypocrisy (e.g., drinking New Zealand wine out of compostable cups). The best comment will win a SIGG water bottle (the same one I’ll be receiving from GLC). On Thursday at 11:59pm, I’ll pick the winner and notify them through email.

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