Published by the Students of Johns Hopkins since 1896
June 18, 2024

Hopkins still a dim bulb

By Staff | March 7, 2007

Every person on this campus has a responsibility to reduce our collective energy consumption, and we're all doing a poor job of it -- from the bottom up.

We leave the lights on after we leave the room. We turn the heat up a few degrees higher than we need to. We use Thomas Edison relic incandescent bulbs. There are plenty of steps each of us could be taking toward improving our energy efficiency, and there's no day like today.

For the University as a whole, there's no day like months ago. For a school that prides ourselves on technological advances, we're lagging sorely behind our peers in one of the most important issues of our era. Yale has already cut its dorms' energy expenditure by 17.3 percent. We're even lagging in good intentions. The University of Pennsylvania and Cornell recently joined 80 other schools as signatories of the American College and University Presidents Climate Commitment, obligating them all to adopt strategies to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. We hope Hopkins is next on the list.

But what we've seen so far has been disheartening. The Hopkins Energy Action Team's (HEAT) proposal for the University to go carbon neutral by 2015 was swallowed by the bureaucratic black hole that is StuCo, never to be heard from again. Opposition appeared to stem from a typical inability to commit to simple but necessary sacrifices. Over fifty buildings are still using antiquated light bulbs. Energy use in the dorms is the same as its been since 2004, despite notable advances in green technologies at the forefront of public consciousness.

In building Charles Commons, Hopkins had the opportunity to employ these technological advances and declare a commitment to energy efficiency -- in the form of a green roof, Energy Star appliances, anything. Instead, the Commons immediately became the most egregious energy-abusing dorm on campus, eclipsing runner-up Homewood by 200,000 kilowatt hours per month, and we don't even know why it's happening. That is pathetic. Hopkins needs to get to the bottom of exactly what is sucking up so much power and correct it immediately. Hopefully we'll learn our lesson from Charles Commons, and not make the same mistakes with the Decker Quad.

But despite Hopkins' efforts (or lack thereof) from on high, real progress will be made one individual commitment at a time. We all have to do our part and think about what steps -- however small -- we can take to reduce our own energy footprints. Maybe you don't need to run your Easy-Bake Oven every time you want a cookie. It all adds up.

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