Saturday, July 07, 2007

Live Earth - SigEp style

Today is the "Live Earth" series of concerts, calling attention to global climate change and asking us to think of how we can make a change to help out.

I was thinking about how that would or could apply to SigEps and realized that being aware of our environment is very much in line with the Fraternity's cardinal principles of Virtue, Diligence, and especially Brotherly Love.

All day long as the concerts were being broadcast everyone watching was reminded to "think globally and act locally" by doing one small thing to make a difference. I saw an ad /psa in the London segment that suggested that you only boil enough water for the one cup of tea you are preparing. (Yes, tea. I TOLD you it was the London segment.) If everyone did that, it would save the energy required to light 700,000 street lights for a year. Small change. Big effect.

So what can SigEps do at the individual, chapter, and national level to help out in the effort to reduce energy use, and by extension the creation of greenhouse gases? I have a few ideas, maybe some of you readers can suggest more.

  • INDIVIDUAL
    • There is another name for having a designated driver - carpooling. A good idea whether you are headed to a party or just out to a movie.
    • Public transportation is not nearly as bad as you may think. In fact it is quite good in many places. How to make it better? Use it. When the rider numbers increase the providers will have incentive to make even more improvements in scheduling and placement.
    • When you head to class or work, adjust the thermostat a few degrees up (summer) or down (winter). It won't take long to readjust when you get back, and you will save some money.
  • CHAPTER
    • Florescent bulbs use one forth the energy of "regular" bulbs and last up to 5 years before they need to be replaced. Consider how many lights are in the chapter house. The savings in electric bills will be immediate and continuing.
    • Does the chapter recycle? Many cities have recycling programs along with garbage pickup. If the house is on campus and the school is not recycling, ask them to start. In the meantime a weekly trip to a local scrapyard to sell all the empty beer cans could net a nice profit.
    • How about a project with a local organization to fix up a home for needy occupants? Insulating and caulking and fixing cracks can make a big difference in heat loss.
    • For that matter, make sure the chapter has adequate insulation and that doors and windows fit snugly.
    • Make sure the filters on the air handling equipment are changed out regularly. Follow the manufacturer's guidelines.
  • HEADQUARTERS
    • Take a Leadership role in encouraging other fraternities and college campuses to be more "Planet Friendly". A report from NACUBO shows it really pays off.
    • Incorporate guidelines for increased energy efficiency into the AVP "housing" training material.
    • Add "planet friendly" practices to the metrics used to determine Buchanan Cups.
    • The Housing Corporation could set "green" standards for newly constructed houses to meet. Renovations should also use practices and materials to minimize the "energy footprint".
    • Oh yeah. Make sure that the HQ building is up to speed with all the suggestions, too.

I do not claim universal knowledge here. Some of these things may already be in process. Great. Others may take some economic or even political will to put into effect. That is what Leadership is all about though, isn't it? The point is that if we really want to be a fraternity that is "Different", we should be one of the groups that is making a difference. Lets set an example for other fraternities to follow in this area, as we have in others.

Leave a comment. Do you have some other suggestions? Have you or your chapter done something special to help the planet? Do you think this is all "a bunch of tree-hugging hippie crap"? Tell us about it. Thanks.