Campus Carbon Challenge: Results and Insights

May 6th, 2011 | Sam

The Campus Carbon Challenge invited students, faculty, and staff at OSU to make personal commitments to reduce carbon-dioxide emissions as a result of lifestyle choices. The month long event occurred in April, during which OSU showcased other sustainability related activities happening on campus for Earth Week.

The Carbon Challenge reminded people that simple changes in what we purchase, how we get around, and how we use energy make such a difference, but the challenge is to stick to it.

A total of 630 people made their pledges through an online survey and their comments were unanimously positive. This signaled to the event planners that participants really enjoyed the experience, and we hope they keep that motivation high! More common comments from the survey included “GO GREEN!” or “Good idea, good luck!” or “great challenge! Glad I am participating”. Others were more detailed and unique, such as “I like the initiative and challenge to get people more carbon conscious” or “I really like the idea behind the challenge. A little awareness can go a long way!” or “We should encourage more people to join these kinds of interesting and important surveys and issues. It’s our only planet.”

It truly is our only planet and our home. Interestingly, many philosophies and world religions echo this sentiment, and the overall theme is that we should take care of our home. When Carly Lettero, Volunteer Coordinator at Energize Corvallis, initiated this project she really wanted to understand why most of us are educated about climate change (according to a national Gallup Poll), but have yet to make significant progress towards mitigating this global issue.  Much of it has to do with our values and worldviews. In this sense, changing ones light bulbs and hanging their clothes to dry are tangible statements to express moral concern for the state of the planet. I am impressed with the tremendous amount of compassion and care participants expressed in their survey and through their actions. THANK YOU!201116 - SSI Visibility - OSU Carbon Challenge - Banner - v1 - 001

Now onto some numbers for all you sustainability geeks. These are just a few figures, by no means do they represent the whole survey. The survey uses skip logic, so when a participants indicate their living situation, budget, and amount of available time a list of pledges is generated specific to each circumstance.

19% of those surveyed are renters-this is the the living category which received the most participants
16% of those surveyed live on campus
12% of the surveyed indicated “they do not have much time”
Behaviors with more than 40 participants included:
Unplug electronics when not using them (62)
Implement power management on computer (55)
Wash clothes in cold water with cold water detergent (47)
Bike instead of driving at least once per week (62)
Close windows when heat is on and lower thermostat to most comfortable level (47)
Some behaviors with lower numbers (under 20) included:
Clean or replace filters on furnaces once a month or as needed (1)
Drain a quart of water from your water tank every 3 months to remove sediment that impedes heat transfer and lowers the efficiency of your heater(6)
Replace meat meals with vegetarian fare (1 meal/wk) (7)
Borrow instead of buying (2 items
this month) (6)
Let your dishes air dry instead of using your dishwaher drying cycle (8)
Use a covered kettle or pan to boil water (12)

Overall the Campus Carbon Challenge was a great success! I want to thank Eric Larson, the College of Business, the students who worked on the project, Brandon Trelstad (sustainability coordinator at OSU), Carly Lettero, and the Student Sustainability Initiative for helping with the project.

Now is the time to make a great effort to reduce our impact. In so doing, we will and create a better world and improve our own well-being. This is true regardless of whether you believe in Climate Change or not :)

So lets keep working on creating a healthy Earth and happy people!
Bo Bestvina, Graduate Student Program Assistant
OSU Sustainability Office sustainability

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