SLIPPERY ROCK, Pa. – Organizers hope another incentive - $175 in bookstore coupons - will encourage Slippery Rock University students to sign or re-sign the "Energy Pledge" this semester.
Three students who take the pledge promising to take at least three simple steps to reduce their energy consumption will be randomly chosen Nov. 9 for SGA Bookstore coupons.
While all University employees are encouraged to take the pledge, they are not eligible for the prizes.
The pledge, launched in 2011, asks participants to commit to at least three of 10 steps for reducing the University's carbon footprint and energy expenses. Options include unplugging chargers and appliances when not in use, powering down computers overnight and printing less.
Paul Scanlon, special assistant to the president, said students can submit their own action plan, committing to simple measures such as promising to turn the coffee pot off by 11 a.m.
"It just makes sense to put 'student power' to work in saving energy and operating costs," Scanlon said. "We spend more than $2.5 million per year in utility costs, even reducing that by 5 to 10 percent could reduce our greenhouse gas emissions and save as much as $250,000 in utility costs."
Greenhouse gases contribute to climate change and other environmental problems.
Scanlon said SRU has improved energy efficiency by 47 percent since 2004 through physical improvements to buildings, but it is becoming harder to "squeeze out" savings from additional conservation projects.
Electricity use represents SRU's largest source of greenhouse emissions, and is also the most expensive form of energy used on campus, Scanlon said.
"Conserving electrical energy is particularly important - simple things such as making sure all lights are turned off at the end of the day, or when a student leaves for class, can make a big difference - if we get everyone one board with the 'small steps, big payoff' energy action campaign," he said.
While an estimated 2,000 people have signed the pledge, "We're trying to obtain recommitments from those who already signed, to remind them of the importance of conserving our resources, saving operating costs and continuing our efforts to reduce our greenhouse gas emissions as called for in the President's Climate Commitment," Scanlon said.
Scanlon said it is especially important for students to embrace sustainability.
"The consequences of not meeting the challenge of dealing with climate change - increasingly severe weather, droughts, rises in sea level, food shortage and environmental refugees - could profoundly affect the quality of life for their children and grandchildren," he said.
SRU's Energy Conservation Committee, under the chairmanship of Julie Snow, assistant professor of geography, geology and the environment, developed the idea for the coupon prizes.
The College of Education, College of Health, Environment and Science and the College of Humanities, Fine and Performing Arts funded the prizes.
To take the pledge, visit http://www.sru.edu/president/Sustainability/Pages/SRUEnergyPledge.aspx.
Slippery Rock University is Pennsylvania's premier public residential university. Slippery Rock University provides students with a comprehensive learning experience that intentionally combines academic instruction with enhanced educational and learning opportunities that make a positive difference in their lives.