Be the Change You Wish to See

By Lauren Roberts

19 days. 19 days and my freshman year of college will be over. I can’t believe how quickly the time has flown by during my stay at Holy Cross. However, what is even more astounding is the amount of change I have seen taking place in Holy Cross’s sustainability in the six or so months I have been here. During this time, Holy Cross has implemented composting in its main dining halls and has switched to single stream recycling. There is also a movement to try to ban the sale of plastic water bottles on campus. Signs, whether or not they are true, are appearing in the dining halls promoting the local foods available. Overall, faculty, staff and students seem to be realizing the importance of living more sustainably and they want to take actions to do so.

Many faculty, staff and students have signed up for the Power Down Challenge to save energy, and students have pledged to shorten their showers to 5 or 10 minutes in the High 5 campaign. In Mulledy students were shocked by the water usage posters I hung in the bathrooms and they are actively trying to change their habits in order to limit their water consumption. I saw proof of this in my Montserrat class, You- The Ethical Consumer. In our classroom we have a board where you can post flyers that relate to class, and the Tuesday after I hung my posters at least five people had brought them in to discuss with the class and hang on the board (I was fine with this even though I had to hang more posters up).

This growing interest in sustainability is apparent in many aspects of life at Holy Cross, and it is for this reason that I believe that the environmental liaison position will grow in importance and impact in the years to come. There is still much to be done on campus, such as switching to reusable cups in Lower Kimball or replacing the sinks with taps you can control. However, I believe that the environmental liaisons will be important leaders in helping students enact the changes towards living more sustainably that they want to see on campus. We are all responsible for making changes in our lifestyles to live more sustainably, and it is never too late to start! Whether it is signing a petition or making a pledge, every action counts towards making Holy Cross a more sustainable college. After seeing all the changes made in only one year, I can’t wait to see what sustainable actions will be taken in my remaining three years at Holy Cross!


Recognizing Our Own Environmental Impact


An environmental quiz based on College of the Holy Cross's Healy Hall
By Dan Harrington

Think you know your own environmental impact? Try your luck at these 5 Healy-oriented sustainability questions:

Healy Hall Environmental Challenge Questions

  1. When does Healy Hall as a whole use the most electricity?
    1. Early afternoon (12:00 – 2:00 pm)
    2. Early evening (7:00 – 9:00 pm)
    3. Early morning (1:00 – 3:00 am)
  2. Many appliances continue to use energy even when they are turned off. Which appliance in the Healy basement uses more electricity: the refrigerator in the kitchen or the TV in the common room?
  3. How much more would it cost in electricity to replace the current, small TV in Healy basement with a 53” projection TV?
    1. 50 cents per hour more
    2. 5 cents per hour more
    3. Less than 1 cent per hour more
  4. How much more energy (for readings taken every 15 minutes) is used to operate Healy Hall when we are on break versus when we are here at school?
    1. 50 kWh
    2. 100kWh
    3. 200kWh
  5. Taking all of the energy used in Healy in one hour, how many laptop computers could run simultaneously for one hour?
    1. 100
    2. 500
    3. 1000


  1. C – Highest individual values and highest mean for the period from 1/18/13 – 2/17/13 occurred in the early morning. Spike could be due to people turning the heat up before they go to bed, leaving their electronic devices plugged in overnight to charge and other factors..
  2. A color TV (19” – 36”) uses from 110-133 Watts, while a frost free freezer with 18 cubic feet refrigerator uses 720 Watts. The refrigerator uses almost 6 times more energy than the TV.
  3. C – A 53” projection TV uses 170 Watts per hour, contrasted with 110-133 Watts for a smaller color TV. The difference is about 40-60 Watts, which would equate to less than one kW/h and correspondingly less than 1 cent per hour of use.
  4. A – The average for energy use per 15 min was 88 kWh for the week before we returned from Winter Break, versus the average energy use of 134 kWh since our return.
  5. B – The average laptop uses anywhere from 15 – 60 Watts, while average total usage for Healy Hall in one hour is 34 kW. Even taking our laptops as the max 60 Watts, that converts to [60 W x (1 kW / 1000 W)]=0.06 kW . Taking 34 kW / 0.06 kW = 566 laptop computers, around 500.

We recently asked these questions at the first Environmental Challenge in Healy Hall. The educational goal behind the challenge was simple: Most of us would classify ourselves as people who care about the environment and the impact that we have on it, but do we really have an accurate presumption as to what our environmental impact actually is?

The Healy Environmental Challenge was a traditional idea in a novel setting, and saw great results. We were able to include a significant percentage of Healy residents in the challenge, and everyone who participated gained at least an increased sense of environmental awareness.

The challenge was simple: we developed five questions with multiple choice answers based off of the electricity usage statistics specific to Healy Hall, which we obtained through Physical Plant. Participants rolled a die to decide which question number they had, and then tried to answer that question. If they got the correct answer, they won a light bulb. If not, everyone received a sticker for participating. We had many participants attempt the challenge, and had over 25 people win light bulbs in the four hour period in which the challenge was conducted. The total number of participants was not documented, but it was surely much, much more than 25.

Really, this was the goal of the challenge: participation. Certainly many people were interested in winning a long-lasting light bulb, but the long-lasting effect that the challenge was supposed to create was a feeling of personal responsibility for the environmentally detrimental practices that we all at times engage in. Whether it be leaving our appliances / electronics plugged in over night or opening a window to get fresh air, we all do things that are seemingly insignificant but have an impact on our environment. The challenge was supposed to instill an awareness of the fact that many of our behaviors as residents of Healy Hall have a significant environmental impact. Certainly, it is impossible to quantify all of these behaviors, but we were able to pinpoint a few that really drove home the message that we all have behaviors that lead to a significant environmental impact. Those that we were able to quantify became the blueprint for the Healy Environmental Challenge, which is included below, along with answers and explanations.

What Exactly Is An Environmental Liaison?


By Emily Muldoon

That’s what I asked myself as I walked into my first Environmental Liaison meeting. Some have heard of us, but others are utterly unaware of our existence on Holy Cross’s campus. No one seems too sure of what Environmental Liaisons are, or what they do.

And to tell you the truth, when I was elected Environmental Liasion of Wheeler Hall, I wasn’t even exactly sure what my new position would entail…but I soon discovered all that I would become a part of in order to work towards a greener Holy Cross.

The word liaison, according to the Merriam-Webster Dictionary, means:

“one that establishes and maintains communication for mutual understanding and cooperation”.

This seems like a somewhat overwhelming task for a single person. Fortunately, I am one of ten liaisons, who strive to achieve environmental understanding and cooperation on our campus.

You may be wondering: Understanding of what? And cooperation with who?

  1. Understanding: As Environmental Liaisons, quite simply strive to better understand relationship with the environment. We understand, and therefore believe that it is of the utmost importance to treat the Earth with respect and care. It is our job to ensure that the entire student body, faculty, and staff, gain a better understanding of our responsibility to care for the environment.
  2. Cooperation: As Environmental Liaisons, we work towards a deeper cooperation with the environment. In order to hopefully achieve greater cooperation, we strive to educate others of the need to live in cooperation, with the environment.

This past school year, in order to achieve greater understanding of and cooperation with the environment we launched the Power Down Challenge, part of SynergE Worcester project, a campaign to advance higher education sustainability in Worcester, and as a way to encourage students, faculty, and staff to lessen their used of electricity. In 2007, Rev. Michael C. McFarland, S.J., president, signed the American College & University Presidents Climate Commitment, which committed the College of the Holy Cross to becoming carbon neutral by 2040. The Power Down Challenge aims not only to reduce carbon emissions, but also strives to educate members of the College community of the importance of living sustainably.

Challenge Yourself!

  1. Shut down your computer when not in use.
  2. Turn off task lighting and overhead lights when leaving the room.
  3. Set power management features on major appliances like a computer or printer to activate when you haven’t used the device for 15 minutes.
  4. Check out more information on the Power Down Challenge and how you can get involved!

    Whether or not, you decide to actually take the Power Down Challenge, be sure to challenge yourself to live a greener lifestyle, even if it means simply turning off the lights when you leave a room. Everyone is invited to become an Environmental Liaison and to grow in understanding of and cooperation with the environment!