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“Turn Down Tuesdays” at UMBC

Eco-Ambassadors introduce weekly series to promote energy conservation

In its ongoing efforts to promote energy conservation on campus, UMBC has introduced a new awareness campaign, directed toward heating and cooling.

“Turn Down Tuesdays,” created by the UMBC Eco-Ambassadors and Climate Action Steering Committee, is an informative series centered on heating and cooling appliances around campus. The program is intended to encourage students to limit their use of electric heaters and coolers.

The series will feature facts and pieces of advice to students on how they can limit their use of heating and cooling, saving energy as a result. Kelsi Jameson, a UMBC  Eco-Ambassador and a junior biology major, said that they will take the form of discussion posts to the myUMBC website.

The weekly tips are meant to be a way of “reaching out to the student population in a quick and easily digestible manner to keep everyone conscientious throughout the semester and into the winter break,” Jameson said. “We may have videos, or just food-for-thought-esque posts.”

Kourtney Rutkowski, a fellow Eco-Ambassador and a sophomore mechanical engineering major and psychology minor, originally conceived the idea for Turn Down Tuesdays as a means of expanding the Eco-Ambassadors’ social media outreach.

“We wanted to do a weekly series of sorts and the idea just sort-of came to me,” Rutkowski said. “We divided weeks up to members of the work groups and from there started working on the first post, got it approved by the Sustainability Coordinator, and posted our first post of the series last week on myUMBC.”

“The series is meant to be part of our efforts to highlight energy-saving during the winter,” said Elise Rudt, a UMBC Eco-Ambassador and a junior global studies major. “It’s also part of our overarching campaign to promote three energy-saving initiatives: ‘Turn It Off,’ ‘Let It Rest,’ and ‘Dial It Down.’”

Those three initiatives highlight the three main energy-saving tactics that the Eco-Ambassadors are promoting. “Turn It Off” focuses on powering down unused electronic devices. “Let It Rest” encourages students to utilize sleep/hibernate modes for their computers, laptops and printers. “Dial It Down” challenges students to limit their heating so as to maintain their rooms’ temperature at 70 degrees Fahrenheit throughout the winter.

The Eco-Ambassadors are a group of UMBC students specially designated to work with campus sustainability programs and promote student-led sustainability. They work to raise environmental awareness and encourage sustainability practices in classes, among student organizations and at campus events.

The Climate Action Steering Committee was founded by President Freeman Hrabowski as the Climate Change Task Force in 2007. It has worked to advise Hrabowski on sustainability measures, engage the campus in emissions-reducing practices and promote education and research related to combating climate change. The committee consists of faculty, students and staff.

Facilities Management has also worked to promote electric energy conservation. Its website features energy-saving guidelines and advice for the campus buildings’ temperature controls and lights. It has also directly employed energy-efficient lighting and temperature-control systems around campus.

Rutkowski stated that for now, the series’s expansion would depend upon student response. “We would love to see it grow and develop into a bigger thing, however it all depends on what the students want,” she said. “We are hoping that by reading the posts, the students will remember the posts and implement them into their daily routine.”

“How many times must they hear a fellow student say, ‘Turn down for what?’” said Rutkowski. “It would be great if they start to remember our posts and and talk about them whenever something like that gets said.”