Penn State Green Tips… Smells Crunchy

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For those that weren’t aware, Penn State wants us to save energy. …Something called “Global Warming”, whatever that is. While I know those of you that have to trudge around campus with wind chills in the single digits might want a little global warming to come to central Pennsylvania, this wish is shortsighted and not feasible in the long term. In its efforts to prod students to save energy, the University has been sending out Green Tips of the Week. An example tip would be:

Take Shorter Showers. If every student who lives on campus at University Park reduced his or her shower by just five minutes, we would save 100,000 gallons of water each school year. That’s enough to fill five swimming pools!

Additional analysis on the flipside.

Makes sense right?  That’s a valid tip, something that I wouldn’t have thought about as an energy saving act. Other times however, the Green Tip is obvious to the point where you question just how old Penn State thinks you are.

Buy Energy-Efficient Products. Why: They use less energy than standard products and are better for the environment.

No F*%*in way! I would have thought for sure that something “Energy-Efficient” would waste energy needlessly. Thank you Penn State for enlightening me. And while we’re at it, I find this focus on saving energy hypocritical, not to mention infuriating. My main beef with the University’s focus centers on my damn desk light. It’s an incandescent!! If I recall correctly, the Green Tip from September 29 stated:

Use Compact Fluorescent Lightbulbs.
Why: An 18-watt compact fluorescent lightbulb uses about three-quarters less energy than a 60-watt incandescent lightbulb—and gives off about the same amount of light. Fluorescent bulbs last longer, too.  Did you know that 25% of your Housing and Food Services bill is spent on energy?  Save us some money!

Oh really? What an audacious request. Why should I save you money? If you want me to use Carbon Fluorescent Lightbulbs, provide them! Why should I have to spend five or six bucks on a light that doesn’t benefit me? If the University is so interested in saving energy, they should invest in Carbon Fluorescents. The initial investment would be more than repaid over time. Maybe there isn’t enough money at the moment. Perhaps there will be if President-Elect Obama has anything to say about it.


Highlights: 2:13- energy efficiency in public buildings 3:14 energy efficient schools

Even if Obama can’t come through, the University should put its money where its mouth is, so students don’t have to.

UPDATED 8:30 pm:

We found the analysis on Tyler Cowen’s Marginal Revolution site relevant.

I was surprised to read the first plank of Obama’s proposed stimulus:

First, we will launch a massive effort to make public buildings more energy-efficient. Our government now pays the highest energy bill in the world. We need to change that. We need to upgrade our federal buildings by replacing old heating systems and installing efficient light bulbs. That won’t just save you, the American taxpayer, billions of dollars each year. It will put people back to work.

Maybe that is deliberately unglamorous but I was expecting a more dramatic first punch.  Here, by the way, are some simple arguments for energy-efficient buildings.  My Google search doesn’t yield much useful, however, in the way of critical analysis.  (Any leads, readers?)  And surely ten years from now our government still will have the highest energy bills in the world, unless the goal is to grow so slowly that the Chinese government will pass us.

[HT to Andrew Sullivan]

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Eli is a junior majoring in International Politics. He enjoys paninis and books.

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