A fraternity is partnering with the Office of Sustainability to conduct energy audits.
Members of the Kappa Delta Rho fraternity participated in training that will enable them to conduct energy audits for fraternity houses around Main Campus on Nov. 5. The Greeks Go Green initiative is part of a recent partnership with the Office of Sustainability.
“The Office of Sustainability was able to set up to have two energy audit professionals come in and they did an energy audit at my frat house,” said senior environmental studies and Intrafraternity Council sustainability chair Matt Meyer. “They came in and showed us where we could improve in the house and gave us a lot of easy tips [such as] to seal up the air ducts around the house.”
The energy audit of the Kappa Delta Rho house also served as a training session for the fraternity members present.
Kathleen Grady, sustainability coordinator in the Office of Sustainability, said the purpose of the training was to give the brothers the necessary skills to administer energy audits at other IFC fraternity houses.
“We partnered with the Energy Coordinating Agency in Philadelphia, which is a non-profit agency,” Grady said. “They came in and trained the fraternity on how to conduct an energy audit and what to look for.”
“Now they’re trained to go out and go to the other fraternity houses and perform these energy audits and try to help them come up with tips on ways that they can conserve energy as tenants,” Grady added.
Grady said the tips will be useful as the weather turns colder and heating bills go up. She added that the focus on tenant behavior is what makes the program unique.
“A lot of times energy audits are really focused on homeowners, because that’s where you can do the bulk of the work [to conserve energy],” Grady said. “But what this program is really focused on is empowering students and tenants to actually take ownership over their space where they can.”
“Tenants often are the ones who are responsible for the energy bill but traditionally haven’t had a lot of power–no pun intended–in the ability to change what they are doing,” Grady added. “But this program really focuses on steps that they can take that can make a big difference.”
The representatives of the Energy Coordinated Agency emphasized minor alterations that could be made to conserve energy. These tips included sealing cracks around windows and doors, insulating water heaters and avoiding the costs of “vampire electricity.”
“They call it ‘vampire electricity’ when you leave something plugged in,” Meyer said. “For instance, a cell phone charger still uses a small amount of electricity when it’s still plugged in [but not charging].”
Meyer said these small changes are what he will focus on when he conducts energy audits at other Temple fraternity houses.
“I’m probably going to go over five or six easy hints and easy ways to decrease their bill so that not only will the people at that house learn, they’ll be able to tell their parents, a friend, a girlfriend, just so it starts to spread,” Meyer said. “It’s just important for people to start taking their own part and stop waiting on someone else to do it. If everyone did a small amount, we could have a bigger change.”
Meyer founded Greeks Go Green last year in an effort to draw more Greeks into environmental issues and show a different side of fraternity life.
“‘Green’ is the new buzz word for the past couple years,” Meyer said. “Everyone’s trying to get their own part in green and I thought it was a really good way to bring a different image to fraternities.”
“I for one don’t really like the stereotypes that are always accompanied with being in a fraternity,” Meyer added.
Last year the group organized a block cleanup where they removed trash from three lots in the neighborhood around Main Campus.
“That’s just one of the examples where we’ve done a positive thing for Temple students, the community and the environment at the end,” Meyer said.
Meyer said the group has plans for next semester to organize a hands-on activity with the IFC, such as garden bed building or tree planting. He also hopes to spread the initiative to the rest of the Temple University Greek Association.
“Eventually I would like to have TUGA take part in our Greeks Go Green initiative. It’s just a matter of bringing them all on board,” Meyer said. “Everyone should have their part, sorority or fraternity, so I don’t think it should be limited just to IFC. It’s all in process, it’s not going to happen overnight.”
Kate Kelly can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.