According to a survey last spring, URI students living in residence halls took 13-minute showers on average, typically left their computers on for 16 hours a day (a third of them never even turned them off), and almost never shut off the heat, air conditioning, or fans when they left their rooms.
Now students are eagerly jumping in and out of showers and snapping off appliances.
It’s all part of a behavior change campaign, an element of a larger $18 million energy efficiency and conservation initiative launched in 2007 that will save more than 7 million kilowatt-hours of electricity and 42 million pounds of steam per year. The cost of the three-year project with NORESCO, a leading energy services company, will be paid over 12 years from the savings on the University’s utility bills.
“While it may be easier to make physical changes to our facilities to save energy, if we want to achieve our energy savings objectives we must also change behaviors,” said Jerry Sidio, director of Facilities Services.
To help accomplish the change, energy saving posters were placed around each residence hall, notices were hung in showers, and students were asked to sign a commitment pledge.
“It didn’t take much effort on our part to get residents enthusiastic about saving energy. They’re really into it,” said John Rooney, one of the University’s 112 resident assistants recruited to encourage energy conservation. “A couple of [Barlow Hall} students even started a recycling program in the building. Everyone seems to like the new showerheads, and some of my residents even harass me when I stay too long in the shower.”