Green Cup Challenge Kicks Off; 31 Schools to Compete for Sustainability

It’s not easy being green, but Phillips Academy is going to try. PA is competing in the third annual Green Cup Challenge (GCC), in which the 31 participating schools work to decrease energy consumption by the highest percentage relative to their baseline energy consumption. “Our goal is for students to feel responsibility to help stop some of the environmental issues today,” said Becky Bogdanovitch, Sustainability Coordinator. Bogdanovitch hopes that the GCC will promote environmental awareness and emphasize student impact on climate change and air quality. Bogdanovitch said she believes it is important for the student body to learn more about the Office of the Physical Plant (OPP) and how the department keeps the school running. The issue of student awareness was also emphasized during Eco-Action’s screening of King Corn, a documentary film by Curt Ellis and Ian Cheney. Cheney was present at the event. The documentary was created to educate viewers about the adverse health affects of high fructose corn syrup (HFCS), which is a cheaper alternative to pure sugar, often used in sodas and other mass-market sweets. The film followed Cheney and Ellis to a farm in Iowa where they planted an acre of corn. The documentary was a jumping-off point to discuss many other environmental issues in the world today, Cheney said. John Turenne, Sustainable Food Consultant for Phillips Academy, said, “We need to understand the issues, figure out the possibilities to fix the issues, and agree on priorities.” Turenne and Cheney said they want students to be aware of what they put in their bodies and how specific farming methods affect the environment. Carlos Montanez, Associate Director of Maintenance and Utilities, listed several lifestyle changes students can make to reduce energy expenditure. Some initiatives include using the stairs instead of the elevator, turning off lights in dorm rooms, unplugging all electronics when they are not in use, using compact fluorescent light bulbs, doing full loads of laundry and using desk lamps instead of the overhead lights. “If the community is trying to conserve [energy] and everyone does their part, then we will succeed,” Montanez said. He said that OPP is in the process of determining the areas of campus that use the most energy and how the level can be decreased, making campus more energy efficient overall. According to Montanez, this year the school will try to reduce energy consumption from the baseline number of 211,419 Kilowatt hours, which is equivalent to about $27,000 of energy bills. The computer screens in the lobby of Gelb display the level and cost of our energy usage throughout the duration of the Green Cup Challenge. “It is great to do well in the Green Cup Challenge, but what we really want to do is form good habits,” said Bogdanovitch. Montanez said, “The Green Cup Challenge is great because it leads to awareness, which leads to motivation which leads to actions and finally produces results.”