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Do It in the Dark campaign aims to make students aware of their energy usage

All six residential colleges will engage in the Do It in the Dark Campaign, which aims to raise awareness in energy use and recycling habits, from April 1 to April 26.

Wattvision, a real-time visualization of energy usage data, will monitor each college’s energy usage progress and determine a winner based on which residential college shows the most improvement in energy consumption over the three weeks. Energy usage progress is measured by comparing each college’s energy consumption with its energy consumption before the campaign. The campaign will name the winning residential college after the conclusion of the approximately three-week period.

The students of the winning residential college will get the chance to design their own study break and to donate money saved through energy conservation to the Paul Robeson House, a local community center.

“All you have to do is turn off the lights, pull the plug and wash your clothes with cold water—easy things,” campaign organizer Lindy Li ’12 said.

Do It in the Dark was sponsored by Students United for a Responsible Global Environment, Greening Princeton and the Office of Sustainability.

“I think it’s an exciting initiative,” Isaac Lederman ’15, co-president of SURGE, said. “People involved in sustainability at Princeton have wanted to do this for a long time. I think it will cause people to pay more attention to their daily activities and their effects on the environment.”

Li explained that she brought the campaign idea to the University’s Office of Sustainability after a conference in Dublin with global leaders, including former Vice President Al Gore, former Irish President Mary Robinson and Princess Laurentien of the Netherlands, among other world leaders. She said that during the conference she realized something as fun and financially feasible as an energy competition could be an enticing way to get people involved.

She added that she hoped that the campaign would show that individual actions matter.

“People think of climate change as some sort of monolithic force that individuals can’t do anything about,” she explained. “I’m trying to tell people that when we come together and make these small changes in our lives, these changes accumulate and make a tremendous difference. It’s not a helpless situation; it’s totally in our control.”

Director of the Office of Sustainability Shana Weber said she hoped this campaign would raise broader awareness about energy issues, noting that this is the first time students will be able to see live energy data from their dorms on their mobile devices.

Weber also said she is very interested to see how engaging Wattvision, as a customized tool for students and catered to the campus culture, will be.

“There are other schools that do energy competitions and use live data, but it’s not really widespread,” she explained. “Very few have really perfected how to keep students engaged year after year.”

Hulai Jalloh ’17, who heard about the campaign through a school email, said she thought it was an interesting initiative to get people involved and show that students can make a difference.

Weber noted that other schools are waiting to see how the campaign affects the University.

“Hearing your numbers results in people being more conscious about the energy they use,” she said. “We’re trying that out here, if we can measure the student-generated impact on our energy footprint. I’d be very excited to see Princeton students really showing the way.”

Li said she has been speaking with people at Harvard and Yale and hoped the campaign would spread across the country.

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