Andover Considers Participation in Exeter Green Cup as Part Of Ongoing Effort to Promote Sustainability and Conservation

Though the Andover/Exeter athletic contests are over, another competition with the Academy’s rival is in the works. The second annual Exeter Green Cup Challenge, a race to save energy, will begin this February. Pre-competition meetings began this past Sunday, November 12, at Exeter. The Green Cup Challenge is an interscholastic competition designed to promote environmental awareness, reduce energy expenditure, and lower emissions of greenhouse gases at each participating school’s campus. When Exeter’s sustainability representatives spoke with Phillips Academy’s Sustainability Coordinator, Rebecca Bogdanovitch, she began to consider PA’s participating in the competition. Ms. Bogdanovitch said, “Hopefully the competition will be a great opportunity to network with other schools for both students and faculty members, and will be a venue for an environmental forum between schools.” At the start of the competition, each school measures its energy consumption. Over a month-long period each school works to reduce the average amount of energy it uses. The school that lowers its energy consumption by the highest percentage wins the competition. Each school must also submit a student-directed and -produced educational video about energy consumption and its effect on the environment. Similar contests have been held for a number of years within individual schools, but the Exeter Green Cup is the first competition between several different schools. Last year’s competitors were Exeter, Northfield Mount Hermon and Lawrenceville; NMH emerged as the winner. This year, Andover will most likely compete with several newcomers: St. Paul’s, Hotchkiss, Proctor, Holderness, St. George’s, and Millbrook, among others. The competition may grow in the coming years to include dozens of schools. According to Ms. Bogdanovitch, PA will likely commit as a competitor soon, when all practicality issues have been resolved and the Academy has granted permission. The purpose of the conference this past Sunday was to discuss logistics, ways to educate student bodies about the importance of environmental issues and to talk about the effects of emissions on the environment. Students at the conference split into workshops to learn about the science behind global climate change, find out more about the competition, and exchange ideas on how to increase student awareness and involvement in the environment. Until February’s competition, there is “an opportunity to start a dialogue and ask important questions [like] ‘Why do we care about the environment and about reducing green house gas emissions? Why is this important to us?’ The competition is a great way to spark conversation and increase environmental awareness,” said Ms. Bogdanovitch. The measurements of energy consumption are done for the campus as a whole, rather than for specific buildings or areas. Ms. Bogdanovitch feels that the proposed energy percentage reduction is a feasible goal for Phillips Academy. Regardless of PA’s performance in the competition, Head of Eco-Action Bethany Simard ’07 feels that this competition is a good start to developing a more comprehensive sustainability program. Simard said, “Compared to other schools we are not very advanced in our sustainability and how we conserve energy. [The Exeter Green Cup] is not just about competition, but hopefully will increase awareness and get people in the habit of saving energy. If it’s in the competitive spirit, maybe more people will become involved in environmental issues.” Achieving the greatest reduction in energy expenditure is reliant upon the efforts of each student. Ms. Bogdanovitch recommends that students remember to switch off lights and radios when not in their rooms, and to turn off computers when they are not in use. According to her, these simple habits can make significant differences. There are other measures the school can take to reduce energy consumption. Ms. Bogdanovitch gave the example of computer labs, where most computers may be left on overnight. By simply turning off all computers, copiers, and other electronics each night, a considerable amount of energy can be saved. Ms. Bogdanivitch said, “You can be as competitive as you want but we are ultimately all working towards the same goal and for the same cause.” She continued, “At the end of the day the environment is what benefits the most from our efforts.” Simard said, “We may not win, but we are at least making progress.”