Looking for a fresh take on how to cut back on the amount of energy you use? Then step into the interactive information station that is touring Maryland colleges through next April. This 10' x 10' mobile exhibition was designed by design students at Maryland Institute College of Art (MICA) to educate and inspire Maryland college students to live more sustainably. The initiative grew from a larger, statewide campaign called EmPOWER MARYLAND, which the Maryland Energy Administration (MEA) launched to reduce Maryland's energy consumption 15% by 2015.
The MEA recruited MICA's Center for Design Practice to help with branding in early 2009 and, after a successful collaboration, the MEA asked MICA to keep working on the project. The Center for Design Practice, housed within MICA's Office of Research and lead by Director Mike Weikert (also a partner at PIECE Studio) uses "multi-disciplinary, project-based learning to engage in socially conscious projects using design to translate ideas into tangible outcomes with the goal of changing behaviors and making a positive impact on society."
The students designed this modular exhibit and chose a lightweight, eco-resin material to allow for easy installation. Titled "EmPOWER MARYLAND, You Owe It to Yourself," the information station is a participatory experience where the users interact with the space and calculate a personal savings number that represents how much money they can save by 2015 based on energy-efficient behavior. The exhibition becomes a valuable data resource for the MEA as it assesses and develops new energy programs, and it includes facts (and graphics!) that would catch anyone's attention. For example, many of us know that using CFLs instead of incandescent light bulbs can save us money ($65 over the life of the bulb), but most college students will probably be shocked to learn that they could save $160 annually just by unplugging their unused TV.
The first leg of the college tour started in September but the exhibit will travel to campuses across the state: Towson State University (through November 23), Morgan State University (January 24-February 25), University of Maryland College Park (March 28-April 15), University of Maryland Baltimore County (April 18-April 29).
For those of you who cannot catch the exhibit, here are some more of those energy-saving tips: use cold water in washing machine (save $63 a year), install a low-flow shower head/take shorter showers, unplug your laptop when not in use (save $15.60 annually), turn down temp of water heater to warm setting (120 degrees), unplug gaming system when not in use (save $25.73 annually), wash only full loads of dishes/air dry, use curtains or shades to give ac a break, use ceiling/other fans so you can raise the thermostat, pump up your tires (improve gas mileage by 3%), bike, walk, take public transportation (save up to $115 per year on gas by reducing miles driven 5%), turn thermostat back 10%-15% for 8 hours (save as much as 10% on energy bill), turn off lights when not in use, set refrigerator temp between 37-40 degrees.
Photo credits by Alain Jaramillo