Co-op member starts green energy project to make homes more efficient
MSU Student Housing Cooperative practices the idea of cooperative living throughout its 15 houses across the East Lansing area and consists of approximately 240 members.
One of its main goals is to provide sustainable living for all its members and making their homes efficient by going 100 percent carbon free through electricity usage. One co-op member wanted to start that pushing that goal harder, so he created the Green Energy Initiative Project.
Board member and sustainability fellow Sam Berndt started the MSU SHC Sustainability Committee, then created his project this year.
During the summer, Berndt read two books by Bill Nye about evolution and science. From the reading, he faced a new question: is the millennial generation going to step up to the challenge to become the next generation that actually does something and invokes change?
He was inspired to take action. Berndt joined SHC last fall and later get elected as board member with the goal in mind to go 100 percent carbon neutral through electricity usage.
“I brought up the idea like, 'Hey I really want to do this, I’m really interested in making us become 100 percent carbon neutral, because it’s in our end policies that we will promote ecological stewardship and promote sustainability,'” he said. “Essentially from there I ended up becoming the sustainability fellow.”
As sustainability fellow, Berndt works to gather all the data and electrical usage for each house, working with the goal in mind of making them more efficient.
“I ended up working with LBWL, which is our electricity company, and from them I gathered this data and mentioned our goal,” he said. “From there they ended up providing us with a $50,000 grant so that we can make our houses become more sustainable and less energy costly.”
This developed into Berndt's project called MSU SHC Green Energy Initiative, created with that same goal for all its houses. Currently, they are working to replace lights and refrigerators in efforts of making their homes more efficient.
Berndt has the help of fellow committee members, Jimmy Coyer and Mike McCurdy, who provide all facility services for their houses. Coyer said all three of them are taking an equal share of the work and trying to do research on how they can best replace their existing appliances within the homes.
“Right now we’re working to replace our refrigeration units, I’m in the process of looking for different providers of appliances,” Coyer said. “We’re trying to find units that are sizable and energy efficient and work for our kind of living spaces.”
They are also going through and replacing all their fluorescent light bulbs with LED bulbs to make it more efficient.
Environmental engineering junior Sydney Baade is a member tenant in the co-op and is in charge of maintenance at her house.
“We’ve been taking input from members of the cooperative system, you know, 'What kind of things do you want in a refrigerator?' and then we go in and we look for the refrigerators with most sustainable option, as far as energy consumption goes, and we look to replace them,” she said.