Skip Navigation

Sustainability Blog

← Back to BSU Sustainability Home

Archive for October, 2013

Oct 29

Booooo!! Happy Mindful Monday!

Published in 2013

With Halloween coming up this week, it is time for a ghost story. It is the tale of the ghost watt…
One night before going out to celebrate the end of the harvest and our transition into the time of spirits, you notice something on your dorm/office counter. Normally this thing would remain beyond your consideration. It seems like an everyday thing. Like a life sucking octopus, there it sits. The surge protector that, despite having all the devices attached to it turned off, still stares at you with one glowing red eye. IT’S ALIVE!
Even when we turn off all of our “necessary” electronica, they still consume energy. When a device is off, but still consumes small amounts of energy (that really add up), we call that mysterious energy being consumed ghost watts or phantom loads. However, unlike real apparitions, ghost watts are easily banished. All you have to do to lay these ghost watts to rest is unplug necessary paraphernalia and turn the switches off on your surge protectors.
Here is a little more on ghost watts from UC Colorado Springs Research Journal (Notice the wonderful aliases of these little energy consumption examples…):
Ghost loads (also known as phantom loads, vampire loads, standby power or leaking electricity) needlessly consume electricity when electronic devices are not in use, costing institutions money and needlessly sending tons of CO2 into the atmosphere. An analysis of computer and other ghost loads at the University of Colorado Colorado Springs (UCCS) was conducted in the Spring of 2009 with the results showing that computers annually cost the school $37,505.96-$45,017.56. The environmental impact of idle computers was calculated as 521.73-626.07 tons of CO2 emitted into the atmosphere. These estimates are likely low since data was neither gathered on weekends, nor during the summer. Other potential sources of ghost loads are identified and strategies that could lead to lower costs and carbon emissions are presented.
Happy Monday, and may the ghost watts rest in peace… Muah..ha…ha…ha…
Read About it →

Oct 21

Happy Mindful Monday!

Published in 2013

As our precipitation turns to fluffy stuff, thoughts of liquid water come to mind. Taken from Oregon’s Department of Environmental Quality Website (, this week’s tips are about water conservation and what we can do at home and in the dorms to promote it.
Here’s what you can do…
  • The average bathroom faucet flows at a rate of two gallons per minute. Turning off the tap while brushing your teeth in the morning and at bedtime can save up to 8 gallons of water per day, which equals 240 gallons a month!
  • Collect water that runs until the shower gets hot. Use it to water plants.
  • Take a 5 minute shower or take one every other day: You can save 3 times: the water, the sewer, and the gas or electricity it takes to heat the water.
  • Save water and energy every flush: Over the course of your lifetime, you will likely flush the toilet nearly 140,000 times. If you replace older, existing toilets with WaterSense labeled models, you can save 4,000 gallons per year with this simpler, greener choice.
  • Don’t pre-rinse dishes. Most newer dishwashers don’t require pre-rinsing.
  • Make sure the dishwasher is full when you run it and/or use a small trickle to wash and rinse dishes. Average dishwashers use approximately 12 gallons of water every time you use them.
  • Reuse clean household water, such as water you run until it’s hot, or water used to boil eggs or steam vegetables.
  • Chill drinking water in the refrigerator instead of running the tap for cold water. You can waste up to 4 gallons of water every time you let the water run until it is cold.
  • Make sure there are no leaks or drips: A dripping faucet can waste 20 gallons a day or more, and leaking toilets can waste up to 500 gallons a day!
  • The average washing machine uses about 41 gallons of water per load. High-efficiency washing machines use less than 28 gallons of water per load. To achieve even greater savings, wash only full loads of laundry or use the appropriate load size selection on the washing machine.
  • When washing the car use a bucket: Only run water when you are rinsing the car off. Some commercial car washes recycle their water and are more efficient than doing it yourself.
  • Know how much you are using: A good way to help you reduce your use of water is to know how much you are consuming. Your water bill will tell you what you have used in cf’s (cubic feet) or ccf’s (100’s of cubic feet). To convert cf’s to gallons multiply the number of cf’s by 7.5. To convert ccf’s to gallons multiply by 748.
Information taken from:
Have a great week,
Trevor Plendl
Read About it →

Oct 16

Mindful Monday!

Published in 2013

Maintaining your bike promotes longer life of your bike and its parts. Although fuel economy may be less of a concern with a bike than a motor vehicle, elongating the life of your bike and its parts is a sustainable practice that can also save you money.


Want your bike to go faster? Ride easier? Shift smoother? Improvements in these areas are often relatively easy to accomplish with just a few simple steps. Try out these simple tune-up tasks below, which don’t require any special knowledge, and see immediate improvements in your riding.

1. Clean and lubricate your chain

The chain and sprockets on your bike play a key part in the transfer of power in your legs to your wheels, making them go round and round. When they collect dirt and grit and get gummy, not only does it slow you down, but they also wear out faster. Keeping your chain clean and lubricated is one of the best ways to keep your bike working well.



2. Lubricate the moving parts of your brakes and derailleurs.

Your bike has quite a few moving metal parts that are vulnerable to dirt and moisture. To keep your bike happy and functioning well, these parts should be lubricated regularly.

Pivot points on the brakes and derailleurs are good examples of the types of places you should target because they are vulnerable to attracting dirt and grit due to their placement on your bike. Here’s a diagram of common lubrication points on a bike, but you can spot many of these places just by watching your bike in action and seeing where metal parts move against and around each other.

For instance, think about your brakes. On most road bikes, they are mounted on a bolt on the frame above your wheel. When you squeeze the lever, the brake pivots around this bolt as it contracts. It’s these places where you want to apply a couple drops of oil.




3. Inspect your brake pads.

A quick check of your brake pads will often reveal potential problems that are easy to fix. You want to check:

  • Are your brake pads properly aligned?

Brake pads are the little rubber things that clamp down on your rims to slow you when you squeeze the brake levers. Make sure they are hitting the rims evenly, and aren’t either rubbing the tire or missing your rim partially or completely.

  • Are the brake pads toed-in?

The bike brake pads should also be “toed-in,” which means the leading edge of the pads should touch the bike rim first when you lightly apply the brakes. The pads squish a little, and when you squeeze down hard, you should get full contact to the rim. This helps prevent squeaking

  • Check for junk embedded in the brake pads

Inspect the surface of the brake pads where they meet the rims, and using a pointy sharp instrument like a knife, pick out any bits of sand or metal that may have become embedded in the pad. Removing this grit prevents the pads from wearing and scratching your rims and helps them provide more even and consistent stopping power.



4. Check the pressure on your tires.

One of the simplest things you can do is the one that can have the greatest effect, and that surprisingly, people most often overlook.

Paying attention to keeping the proper level of air pressure in your tires accomplishes many things:

Checking for proper air pressure in your tires before every ride is quick and easy to do. Here’s how to check the air pressure in your tire.





From’s page on bike maintenance:


Photos taken from WikiHow’s pages on bike maintenance:



Pedal smarter, not harder. Bike safe and have an awesome week!


Trevor Plendl


Read About it →



"You are the change you want to see in the world."
~ Ghandi