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October 25, 2013

Energy conservation program to turn off lights for weekends

Lindsey Payne

Lindsey Payne, a PhD candidate in ecological sciences and engineering, is president of the Student Sustainability Council, which is coordinating a new conservation initiative called Friday Night Lights. The initiative calls for volunteers to spend time on Friday nights turning off lights in classrooms on the West Lafayette campus. (Purdue University photo/Charles Jischke)
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Friday Night Lights, a new energy conservation initiative being coordinated by Purdue's Student Sustainability Council (SSC), will kick off this Friday (Oct. 25) as part of Green Week.

The initiative calls for volunteers to spend time on Friday nights turning off lights in classrooms throughout the West Lafayette campus.

"We thought this would be a good way to involve all the green groups on campus as well as any others who are interested in this idea of saving resources, reducing our carbon footprint and decreasing energy costs," says Lindsey Payne, a PhD candidate in ecological sciences and engineering and president of the SSC.

This Friday, 20-30 volunteers from the Society of Environmental and Ecological Engineers and Honors College will turn off classroom lights in key academic buildings on campus, recording how many lights were turned off in each building. Building Services and Zone Maintenance have worked with the Office of University Sustainability to identify buildings where it may be possible for classroom lights to be turned off. Students will not go into private offices or labs.

At the end of the academic year, SSC will work with Purdue's Energy and Engineering Services unit to calculate estimated potential savings. Volunteers participating in a similar program run at Penn State reported turning off 30, 229 light bulbs for the fall 2012 semester.

The Purdue group hopes its own results as well as the number of volunteers involved in the program will spark interest for the following year. Payne would like to see this program continue as an annual, student-run sustainability initiative.

"If we can get that broader scale collaborative communication across campus, you're going to have much more effective programs, and you're really going to start creating that culture of sustainability where everybody feels invested to some degree in this whole concept," Payne says.

Volunteers from any campus organization and interested students are welcome to participate. In addition to students, faculty and staff are also encouraged to join in the sustainability effort. Those interested should contact Payne at paynel@purdue.edu to sign up for a Friday night.

Writer: Hannah Harper, harper4@purdue.edu