They unplug phone chargers, turn off lights, stop using mini fridges and run a light bulb exchange, using compact fluorescent lights that use a quarter of the energy of regular light bulbs, said Stephanie Boyd, acting director of the Zilka Center for Environmental Initiatives at Williams College.,”Last month students at Williams College in Williamstown, Mass., participated in an annual dorm competition in conserving energy.
From October through November, they unplugged phone chargers, turned off lights, stopped using mini fridges and ran a light bulb exchange, using compact fluorescent lights that use a quarter of the energy of regular light bulbs, said Stephanie Boyd, acting director of the Zilkha Center for Environmental Initiatives at Williams College.
The dorm with the least energy consumption compared to the same period last year got 25 snack bar points for every person, Boyd said.
Williams College is just one of many colleges across the country developing similar measures to participate in the "green movement," to help conserve energy.
"I think it's really important for students to get involved," Boyd said. "These are learning centers, and we hope to establish values in our students that they take when they leave."
Students are becoming increasingly involved in making environmental changes because of the general awareness of global warming, said Lee Bodner, executive director of ecoAmerica, a nonprofit organization focused on the environment.
Harvard University students are involved in a similar dorm competition called the "Green Cup," according to its Web site. Students also build "Mt. Trashmore," in which they pile one day's amount of trash in a visible area on campus to show what could have been recycled instead of trashed.
Bodner said students are pushing their presidents to sign the American College and University Presidents Climate Commitment, which pledges a college to eliminate their greenhouse gas emissions.
"They know global warming is a problem, and higher education needs to lead the way," Bodner said. "Because higher education is training the next generation of CEO's, Congress people and citizens."
To date there are 448 schools who have signed the pledge, according to the Climate Commitment's Web site. Once colleges sign, they must form a committee to create a climate action plan to eliminate harmful gases, said Niles Barnes, public relations and administrative assistant at the Association for Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education.
Marquette has not signed the pledge.
The schools must list actions they will take and set up a time frame of when the gases will be gone, he said.
"Some feel it's a moral imperative they need to take a leadership role on," Barnes said.
Arizona State University President Michael Crow, one of the first signatories, has pledged to eliminate the gases at his campus by 2030, Bodner said.
The university has the largest solar insulation of any campus in the country, said Lauren Kuby, communications manager for the Global Institute of Sustainability at ASU.
The university is extending the solar insulation to all campus roofs within the next year, she said.
"We have to make sure we're walking the talk," Kuby said.
ASU's School of Sustainability prepares students to meet the challenges of global warming as well as the burgeoning job market. The green industries will open up 40 million jobs, she said.
"With crisis can come potential to be a way to drive the economy," Kuby said.
Harvard University is building a new campus at Allston that is built on an eco-friendly model, said Joseph Brain, professor of environmental science and physiology at Harvard.
The campus is designed to be bike friendly so fewer people can drive there. It will also have fewer lawns, with more trees and bushes that do not require fertilizer and more water.
"It will be very sustainable," Brain said. "It's a chance to design a whole new campus from scratch."
The University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point is another signer of the President's Commitment.
It has a strong recycling program, two solar panel roofs and a green roof on the library, said Chris Brindley, building and grounds superintendent at Stevens Point.
Brindley said the university recycles everything from batteries to printer toner cartridges.
The university's sustainability committee and the student government are also trying to buy wind-powered energy instead of coal-fired energy as well, he said.
Brindley said recycling has to be a way of life.
"It's something that we have to do, you have to look for future generations," Brindley said. "What are they going to have if we don't start taking care of it and protecting it?"