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Briarcliff Student Helps Union College Go Green

Briarcliff Manor's Samantha Muratori is helping Union College students control their thermostats from their smart phone or the Internet.
Briarcliff Manor's Samantha Muratori is helping Union College students control their thermostats from their smart phone or the Internet. Photo Credit: Contributed

BRIARCLIFF MANOR, N.Y. - Briarcliff Manor's Samantha Muratori has helped students living in Union College's College Park neighborhood to control their thermostats from their smart phone or the Internet.

Muratori's idea to install wireless thermostats in the 60-plus apartments along Seward and Roger Hull Place is the first student project to be funded by the College's new Green Fee, the school announced.

Beginning this academic year, $5 from every Student Activities fee collected is set aside in a "green fund" for projects that reduce the college's carbon footprint. Students submitted proposals and a committee of students, a faculty member and a representative from facilities reviews the projects for one that can be supported by the $25,000 in the green fund.

Ten students submitted proposals, according to Meghan Haley-Quigley, Union's sustainability coordinator. However, the committee deemed Muratori's proposal the best.

Using an app, students will have control over the heating in their living spaces. Users will also be able to check energy savings data on the thermostats' full-color touch screens, according to the college.

"It will be so easy," Muratori said in a news release. "Students can go on the app to turn the heat up, and they can go on the app to turn the heat down"

The thermostats will be interconnected, giving facilities the ability to regulate temperatures when the students are gone during the six-week winter break. The thermostats will also have a smaller range of temperatures, saving even more energy. Instead of going from 50 to 90 degrees, temperatures may be limited to between 62 and 72.

"Facilities would go into some of these places over the break and the thermostat was turned way up, wasting heat," Muratori said. "These new thermostats will prevent that."

Muratori and others estimate the thermostats will cut energy consumption by a third in the first year, resulting in significant savings.

The first thermostat will be installed in 207 Seward Place over spring break. After a few weeks of monitoring and collecting student feedback, other units in the neighborhood could have thermostats by the beginning of summer.

"I'm hoping this will be an eye opener for students," said Muratori. "I've already had some come up to me with different ideas for sustainability. It's good for students to be aware they really can make a difference on campus."

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