The Green Revolving Loan Fund installed a series of motion detection-operated lights in the common rooms of Darnall Hall last week to reduce the university’s energy usage and carbon footprint.
The installation was the first project financed by the Green Fund, which was founded last spring as an independent branch of the Social Innovation and Public Service Fund. The fund chose the light installation as its first project in March, collaborating with various organizations including Georgetown Energy and the Georgetown University Student Association in the process.
Under the new system, the lights will automatically shut off 30 minutes after a room has been left vacant.
Green Fund Director Daniel Watson said that the project will save the university a great deal of energy and money in years to come.
“The project was to install occupancy sensors throughout Darnall Hall’s common areas — spaces that had previously been left fully lit despite no one occupying the room,” Watson said. “We estimate that the sensors will pay for themselves within just seven years through energy savings, and our loan term with the university reflects that.”
According to SIPS Board of Trustees Executive Director Naman Trivedi (SFS ’16), the pilot project originated from Georgetown Energy, a student group dedicated to reducing the university’s carbon footprint.
Trivedi said that the team chose Darnall as a testing ground to check the viability of launching the project in other dorms on campus.
“If the pilot ran well, the idea would be to calculate potential savings from installing motion-detection lights in other dorms on campus. With Darnall as a success, the team is now looking to install in other underclassmen dorms,” Trivedi said.
Trivedi praised the installation as an effective and financially sound project.
“The finished result of the project is a student-led, energy-efficient and cost-saving mechanism that promotes sustainability at Georgetown,” Trivedi said. “Over time, this will result in substantial energy savings for the building.”
The establishment of the Green Fund was the result of a referendum by the Student Activities Fund Endowment in 2012, which also allocated financial resources for the installation of solar panels on townhouses in the Georgetown area.
Watson said the fund was formed due to demand from student groups to finance necessary and innovative green technologies.
“The founders of this organization had so much foresight in predicting the need and usefulness of a fund like this,” Watson said.
SIPS Board of Trustees Operations Director Allie Heymann (SFS ’16) said that other branches of SIPS could evolve from the sustainable model of the Green Fund.
“In essence, the Green Fund is a more sustainable and more green-oriented manifestation of the greater SIPS mission. In the very long term, SIPS could potentially develop more independent branches that follow the GRLF model,” Heymann said.
Heymann also praised the Darnall project and emphasized how much hard work went into its completion.
“I think that the occupancy sensors were a great first project for the Green Fund, and a major personal victory for all members of the team,” Heymann said. “This project was a huge success and an incredible first step.”
Trivedi said SIPS’s next step is to publicize the Green Fund’s first finalized project, so that other student groups are encouraged to propose sustainable projects to the fund.
“The Green Fund will work on marketing the success of this first project soon. The goal is not so much to laud the brilliance of installing motion-detection lights, but rather to inspire the 300-plus students that live in Darnall to apply for a Green Fund grant to work on a sustainability project of their own,” Trivedi said.
According to Watson, the Green Fund has already begun plans for another sustainable project.
“For our next project, we are planning to renovate another residence hall, this time with LED lighting. We are working with EcoAction and Georgetown Energy on that project, and are hoping the Darnall project proves that the university is willing to continue working with us,” Watson said.
Hanh Nguyen (SFS ’19), a resident of Darnall, said that the installation will be an exciting addition to the hall.
“I think it’s a pretty good idea because, myself especially, I always go to the common room in the middle of the night for food or a midnight snack, and sometimes I have to locate the switch, so with the motion sensor light I don’t have to do that,” Nguyen said. “At the same time, everything in Darnall is pretty old, so it’s nice to have something new around here.”