An illuminating example

Paul Smith’s College is setting an inspirational model for energy efficiency. Regardless of people’s differences on energy and environmental issues – like the Keystone XL pipeline, for example – almost everyone believes that it’s good to insulate your home, to know where you’re wasting energy and to do what you can to save money on energy.

Paul Smith’s is making that happen in a big way. And as is appropriate to a school, it’s doing so by educating everyone on campus, making students more aware of what’s going on around them.

Networked electricity meters have been installed in all 15 residence halls on campus, and they show students how much power is being used in each hall every moment of the day. A 55-inch television screen in the Joan Weill Student Center displays the energy updates in real time. Eventually, the information will be available on the Web.

To drive the message home, students will compete to see which residence hall can reduce electricity use the most over a four-week period, starting today. The winning building will get first crack at next year’s housing lottery, as well as other conservation-related prizes.

Katharine Glenn, the campus’ sustainability coordinator, said she hopes students see that when they shut off the lights when they leave a room, or open their blinds during the day to let sunlight add some warmth in winter, it makes a difference.

It sure does, and this project illuminates minds as well as dorm rooms.