The Daily Gamecock

'Green Dorms' launch on campus

Sustainable initiative to begin in resdience halls


A new certification program from Sustainable Carolina will put students’ love for the environment to the test in their own dorm rooms.

The Green Dorm Room initiative, launched fall of 2011 by USC EcoReps, aims to encourage students to practice sustainability in their daily lives by having their own “greenness” rated on an online check form. The form can be accessed through the EcoReps website and lists over 50 “green” living suggestions, from keeping a designated recycling bin to performing personal trash audits. First-year English student and Honors Residence Hall EcoRep Joseph DuRant says the program will encourage students to consider the environmental impact of their everyday habits.

“A couple of the big ones are unplugging your electronics, turning off lights when they’re not needed and using Energy Star appliances,” DuRant said. “A lot of students don’t think about those things because they’re not paying for their own electricity.”

Sustainability ratings range four levels from “Mist Green” to “Ever Green.” First-level certification requires small-scale efforts, such as printing on both sides of printing paper and taking shorter showers. The challenges become more intensive as students approach “Ever Green” status by eliminating plastic and cardboard-contained products, purchasing recycled goods and contributing to emissions offset projects.

Meggie Patton, a higher education graduate student and West (Green) Quad intern who had her room certified, says the program is designed to challenge students at all levels of environmental consciousness.

“I didn’t even get the highest level, which was embarrassing for me because I plan on going into sustainable programming,” Patton said. “It made me think about what else I could be doing. There’s always room for improvement.”

The initiative began as an independent project by second-year business student Cailin Preston, with requirements derived from green office certification initiatives at other universities. The program will launch at Green Quad this week, and according to environmental sustainability coordinator Margaret Bounds, 20 residents have already submitted the online form. USC EcoReps will be promoting the program in their own residence halls as well.

“I think there are a lot of students interested in it,” Bounds said. “We’re planning on giving away prizes to make it more attractive beyond bragging rights and a window cling.”

The program is the latest initiative by USC EcoReps to involve more students in sustainability efforts. After helping to host the Carolinas’ first EcoReps conference at USC earlier this month, Bounds hopes to see even more action on campus.

“What I’m most excited about is the potential to reach a lot more students than we’ve ever had before,” Bounds said. “We’re still a fairly new program, but this is the most active group of EcoReps we’ve had, and they’re ready to start bringing people in. You don’t have to go all the way to the ultimate green, it’s just as important to start with something as simple as turning your lights off.”