New campus initiative seeks reduced waste

Have you ever had to sit through a lecture in a classroom that was at least 10 degrees hotter than it should have been in the middle of winter or walked by rooms with all the lights on but nobody there? Doesn’t it seem like a waste? It was this same question that led to the creation of the Building Advocates Initiative, a group of students and staff members dedicated to reducing waste and improving efficiency of buildings throughout campus. Currently, the advocates are making incremental changes at Blitman Residence Hall, the Experimental Media and Performing Arts Center, the East Campus Athletic Village, the Mueller Center, the Jonsson Engineering Center, and the Rensselaer Union. This is through a range of actions from simply making sure lights are turned off in unused rooms, to installing more energy-efficient light bulbs, to using more sustainable paper products, to reducing paper waste. Furthermore, a set of energy usage measurements is sent to each of the advocates so they can track the progress being made in their building week by week.

BAI does not stop there though. To make a truly great improvement to sustainability here at RPI, we are striving to create a network of communication and collaboration throughout campus. This includes finding willing staff members to be advocates to improve the buildings in which they work every day, and also creating paths of communication between these advocates and the student body. Once created, this network could coordinate efforts and share resources across campus, as well as allow students’ voices to be better heard when they see problems with efficiency or waste of any kind on campus.

You may ask yourself, this is all well and good, but how does it pertain to me? The answer is twofold: these improvements in sustainability enhance your experience at RPI, and can benefit from your help. BAI can make the necessary changes to fix sustainability problems in buildings on campus, but first we need your help identifying them. When you see an instance of energy or resources being wasted unnecessarily, all you have to do is send a quick e-mail or text to
and we can work towards fixing the problem, because wouldn’t you rather not have to suffer through class in that superheated classroom? Or, if you are a faculty or staff member that is interested in being an advocate, or just someone interested in becoming involved in BAI, send us an e-mail at the address above.

If you would like to help, but don’t really know what to report, here is a quick list of things to look out for: Lights on in unoccupied rooms, areas that seem too hot in the winter, areas that seem too cold in the warmer months, windows/doors left open in the winter, lack of recycling bins (recyclable materials in trash bins), leaky faucets, computers left on, machinery left on, handicap doors being used unnecessarily, and more.

Every change, however large or small, is progress towards a more energy-efficient and less wasteful campus. With your help, these changes are possible, and together we can make RPI more sustainable.