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Shades of Green: get unplugged, vampire slayers!

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“Shades of Green,” a column on environmental issues related to the UIC campus and community, appears monthly in UIC News.

The Office of Sustainability’s energy conservation campaign is prompting the graduate students and interns in my office to tell me I’m from a different generation.

For those of us in a “particular” generation, we remember the MTV series “Unplugged,” which featured artists playing acoustic versions of top hits.

Who knew that a TV show catering to an audience with a renewed interested in folk and acoustic music by artists such as Eric Clapton, Paul McCartney and Kiss would be the early roots of an energy conservation movement at UIC!

This year, for faculty staff and students, UNPLUG is the campus energy conservation campaign.

How many people turn off the lights to their office when they leave for lunch? Who forgets to turn off the fan at night (because not all the offices can be a constant temperature like our geothermal buildings, Grant and Lincoln halls)? How many break rooms on campus have coffee pots plugged in all day?

Vampire slayers
The coffee pots plugged in all day and night are an example of “vampire” energy consumers. Anything that is off but still plugged in (and you still see a light) is on standby — and probably using electricity.

I thought it would be a great idea to have a “Buffy the Vampire” campaign, to “slay” vampire energy users like coffee pots. But again, I got that quizzical look from the graduate students and interns. “Buffy the Vampire Slayer?” Apparently, “True Blood” and “Twilight” are the more salient references.

No matter what generation you identify with, everyone can do their part to UNPLUG.

UIC‘s goal is to reduce its energy consumption by 2 percent this year through behavioral change alone.

The past two years, UIC has participated in Earth Hour, a global annual event when people across the world shut off nonessential lights for one hour in March. On those days, UIC’s energy consumption has been 3 percent to 4 percent lower than normal.

A 2 percent goal for the year should be a cinch — but we need help from you, our fellow vampire slayers.

To kick off this year’s energy awareness campaign, UIC will have NOON HOUR from noon to 1 p.m. Sept. 16. All faculty, staff and students are encouraged to turn off nonessential lights and equipment during that time.

On that Wednesday, I look forward to having lunch outside with the graduate students and interns and discovering yet another generational gap in pop culture.

Monica Rausa Williams is director of outreach for the Office of Sustainability and co-chair of the Chancellor’s Committee for Sustainability and Energy. Send comments and suggestions to sustainability@uic.edu

Previous columns

No shortage of Earth 'birthday' activities (04/08/09)

New beginnings a time to take action (02/11/09)

Holiday lights need more green (12/03/08)

Start off small when making home 'green' (11/12/08)

No more excuses! It's time to bike (10/08/08)

Measuring your carbon footprint (09/10/08)

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