Welkoming a Greener Campus? It's Up to You!

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Dr. Stephen C. Scogin, Biology & Education

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Reducing energy consumption has proven to be a challenging objective for national, state, and municipal level legislation. Furthermore, colleges have struggled in this area due in part to the lack of student fiscal accountability for energy use and difficulties adapting aging structures and buildings to modern energy efficiency standards. Clearly, no single program will solve the problem. Nonetheless, significant steps can be taken to reduce electricity and water usage on college campuses. In the current study, researchers investigated the energy efficiency of Hope College cottages as well as the electricity and water usage habits of cottage residents. In March of 2016, sixteen students, all living in different college-owned cottages, responded to an email containing a self-assessment energy survey. In addition to the survey, third-party energy efficiency assessments of Hope College cottages were performed. These assessments considered the cottages’ physical conditions, heating/cooling systems, and hot water systems. Analyzed using both quantitative and qualitative methods, the data suggests that many cottages need significant upgrades, and Hope College students could contribute to a greener campus by changing several habits that waste electricity and water. Reviewing studies from other campuses and survey responses from Hope students allowed researchers to generate a list of possible social and administrative initiatives that could help improve students’ energy stewardship. These suggestions include awareness campaigns, residential energy competitions, and making recycling more comprehensive and cohesive across campus. By understanding the need to balance structural modifications and more responsible residential behavior, we can all reduce electricity and water usage and welkome greener actions at Hope College.


This research supported by the Holland-Hope College Sustainability Institute, with funding from the Local Sustainability Matching Fund, a project of the Funders’ Network for Smart Growth and Livable Communities, in partnership with the Urban Sustainability Directors Network and the Community Foundation of the Holland/Zeeland Area.

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