No Impact Concert kicks off Energize U.Va.

Office of Sustainability reaches out to student body during month of October

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Maria Dehart performed as part of an acoustic duo with Samyukta Venkat in the No Impact Concert. 

Benjamin Burke | Cavalier Daily

When it comes to energy, so much of the world lives in darkness. Despite the vitality of modern energy services, over a billion people are without access to electricity, according to World Energy Outlook 2015. Over the years, initiatives have been taken to combat energy poverty, improve energy efficiency and decrease environmental impact.

At the University, the Office of Sustainability seeks to serve the needs of the present while also considering the needs of the future. This year, the Office of Sustainability and student volunteers organized Energize U.Va., a month-long series of events designed to bring attention to the need for sustainable energy. The month kicked off on Friday with the No Impact Concert, a completely unplugged and acoustic event, charged only with the spirit of energy conservation.

“[It’s] really cool to see people from the music community and sustainability folks in one space,” Maria Dehart, third-year College student and performer in the No Impact Concert, said. “It’s also just a nice way to end the week — it’s very chill because it’s acoustic. Positive, good vibes.

Dehart performed as part of an acoustic duo with Samyukta Venkat alongside the Virginia Sil’hooettes and Noah Zeidman, a third-year College student.

Organized in part by second-year College student Brian Cameron and second-year Engineering student Sydney Applegate, the concert is designed to make “no impact” on the environment and energy consumption. However, it is intended to make a big impact, so to speak, on the sustainability effort at the University.

“We wanted [the event] to be more open event for people with more diverse backgrounds to be able to come to and not just feel like it’s gonna be technical jargon,” Cameron said. “[Energize U.Va.] starts off with a fun, laid-back concert, then the next week is the groundwork and basics of what U.Va. sustainability policy looks like, the third week is ways you can specifically get involved, especially through research, and the fourth week, it’s coming together as a group of students helping to shape U.Va.’s energy policy.”

As the month of October progresses, the events held by the Office of Sustainability allow students to get involved on a deeper level. These opportunities include the Renewable Energy Research Fair outside Thornton Hall, a joint effort with the Engineering Student Council to generate enthusiasm among students about progress towards renewable energy, as well as participation in the Sustainability Plan 101, a timeline for the University’s carbon reduction goals, with specific targets to reduce emissions by 2025 and 2030.

“It’s educating, especially for first years, to see what goal U.Va. has set in place and how we can help reach that,” Applegate said.

During the fourth week of the program, the Office of Sustainability will hold an Energy Town Hall, giving members of the community a chance to convene with the Energy Action Plan Working Task Force. Students are encouraged to make their mark on the sustainable energy initiative at the University to bring about the most change.

“It’s getting the student body to voice their opinions on the best way to [enact] progress towards reaching the goals [of the Energy Action Plan],” Applegate said.

As student employees with the Office of Sustainability, Cameron and Applegate work with the administration and U.Va. Facilities Management.

“The administration has seen over the past few years that one of the biggest driving energies — no pun intended — for sustainability on Grounds has come from students,” Cameron said.

Energize U.Va. has collaborated with the group Energize Charlottesville, an initiative that fosters competition with other cities to maximize energy efficiency. This competition is mirrored in Energize U.Va.’s First-Year Dorm Competition, which encourages students to conserve energy by avoiding the elevator or turning off their dorm room lights. Prizes are offered to the dorm areas that participate in the most Energize U.Va. events and reduce the most energy consumption.

By applying this competitive spirit and reaching out to students in first-year dorms, Energize U.Va. hopes to bridge the gap between the Office of Sustainability and the student body to garner interest in the cause.

“We wanted to take these initiatives and channel them into the student interests and passions at U.Va.,” Cameron said. “I think that sustainability and environmental climate issues are some of the most important issues to our generation as students.”

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