Othmer Residence Hall shows campus how to go green

Residence assistants cutback on paper waste by creating this recycle-inspired, paperless bulletin board.

Did you know that recycling one aluminum can saves enough energy to run a TV for three hours, the energy equivalent of half a gallon of gasoline?

Students living in Polytechnic’s Othmer Residence Hall have been learning similar energy-related facts every day this spring since the Office of Residence Life, with support from the Facilities Department, began the pilot green initiative R.E.D.O. (Reduction, Education, Do Research and Outreach).

Daniel Aniello, Director of Residence Life and member of Poly’s Sustainable Practices Committee, created R.E.D.O. as a way “to develop Residence Life into a green community and to use its success as an example of sustainability for the rest of the campus.”

Cutting back
R.E.D.O. grew out of the frustration a few residence assistants (RAs) were feeling from the bombardment of flyers announcing Residence Hall events and activities. Not only did they seem like a waste of physical resources, but of human resources; the time and energy spent to create flyers was rarely matched in student turnout.

Mr. Aniello and the RAs decided to drastically cut back. They replaced hallway flyers with small, dry-erase boards and combined recycled materials and large dry-erase boards to create a centralized, paperless bulletin board to promote events and share environmental Facts of the Day.

An unexpected byproduct of reducing paper waste has been an increased sense of community, says Mr. Aniello. RAs now promote many events face-to-face or through email, which has boosted student participation.

Administrative paper waste is also down significantly. By moving forms online, Mr. Aniello has reduced paper waste for weekly maintenance request by 80%, health and safety forms by 88% and rounds reports by 100%.

Energy usage is down too. New policies in the Office of Residence Life require staff to turn the lights off when they leave the office, shutdown or hibernate computers when the office is closed, use natural light whenever possible to illuminate the office, and unplug electronic devices when they’re not in use.

Green perks
Mr. Aniello and his staff have created programming to motivate and educate students about the benefits of being more environmentally conscious.

They hired a tutor for an evening, encouraging students to leave their rooms, shut off their computers and share energy resources in a common space. They also organized a movie night featuring An Inconvenient Truth and a Green Olympics that used recycled materials for physical challenges.

In the fall, a program arranged with Lackmann Culinary Services, Poly’s dining provider, will launch allowing students who bring their own beverage containers to get discounts on coffee.