February is the month for dorms to go green

Living on campus provides University of Minnesota students many benefits such as convenience, security and companionship. It also brings a certain responsibility. The more-than-6,500 student residents spend more time utilizing campus resources than any other portion of the University community.

Electricity, heating, cooling, waste and recycling services are needed in residence halls 24 hours a day, seven days a week. The University spends $45 million per year on energy, recovers about 41 percent of all recyclables and emits approximately 580,000 metric tons of CO2, which are all numbers that could be improved.

While we may not see a monthly bill for these services, their monetary costs are incorporated into the bills we receive for items like housing, activity fees and tuition. Sooner or later, we will all be getting utility bills as we move into apartments and homes.

Incorporating responsible living habits now can only help us prepare for a future where the money for utilities comes directly out of our pockets and our living spaces are as sustainable as we make them.

The second annual Conservation Madness competition encourages sustainable living by rewarding the residence hall that reduces its electricity use, water consumption and waste by the largest percentage and recycles the most during the month of February with a college basketball national championship party. The party will feature food, refreshments and door prizes as the winners enjoy the national championship festivities in their residence hallâÄôs common area.

A great way to get a jump-start on this is by participating in Housing & Residential LifeâÄôs new Green Resident Certification program. This program is three-tiered and empowers residents to make sustainable changes in their lives, with many prizes involved. If you complete the Maroon Level of Green Resident Certification before February 1, you will win a t-shirt from It All Adds Up! Green Resident Certification can be found on Housing & Residential LifeâÄôs Sustainability website.

Gather everyone on your floor and create a game plan for success. Make sure everyone knows what can and cannot be recycled. Turn off your electronic devices with a power strip and study together in one room. Time your showers. Wash full loads of laundry. Reuse empty containers. Good luck, and remember, it all adds up!