April 23, 2010

Earth Day fete on Ho Plaza includes gorge garbage, solar roasting and pedal power

Roasting marshmallows over a solar cooker, pedaling to power various appliances and displaying a truckload of typical trash thrown into the gorges each semester were just a few of the some 25 booths or displays on Ho Plaza April 22 in recognition of Cornell's annual Earth Day celebration.

At the Energy Bike, for example, pedal pushers were challenged to try to power light bulbs, a fan or a television. "What we're trying to display is how much energy you put into lighting up the light bulbs," said Carla Wells '10, a design and environmental analysis major. "You can turn on the fan with a very minimal amount of energy, and then it takes way more energy to turn on the incandescent lights. One of them is equal to four compact florescent lights," she added.

The group Friends of the Gorge displayed a pickup truck full of trash thrown into the gorges this past fall. "It's just amazing to see all that stuff that they throw out in the gorges, some of which is actually good stuff still," said Claire Greenbaum '13, a biology major who visited the display.

Cornell's Lights Out initiative offered a display on their activities, which involves sending students into buildings at night to turn off lights and close windows that are not in use. "It only takes about 10 to 15 minutes," said Jing Jin, a freshman in the College of Arts and Sciences.

The Cornell 100+ mpg team showcased its newly painted red car. "We're here today to show off what we have so far," said Jonathan Liu '11, an operations research major, one of about 60 team members working on a "consumer marketable" car for an upcoming competition.

And representatives from the U.S. Green Building Council student chapter at Cornell was on hand to explain the group is seeking "to build a network of a lot of different majors so you get to learn how LEED [the current standard in Green Building design] is affecting different industries," said Jaimee Estreller '10, a hotel school student and president of the Cornell chapter. Weill Hall received a LEED gold rating, and several new building projects adhere to the LEED system, she added.

Other activities included music by the Attic Tones, local foods fair prepared by the Sustainable Enterprise Association, a Tap Water Challenge with Take Back the Tap and displays by numerous groups, including the Sustainability Hub, KyotoNOW, the Society for Natural Resources Conservation, Big Red Bikes, Greeks Go Green, Collegetown Waste Reduction Coalition, CU Sustainable Design, Roots and Shoots, Dilmun Hill student farm, Cornell Dining, Farm to Cornell, Committee on U.S.-Latin American Relations, the Hasbrouck Recycling Team and the Cornell Organization for Labor Action.

Hanna Roos '10 is a writer intern for the Cornell Chronicle.