WashU’s medical students are at a pivotal moment in their lives as they prepare for their future roles in medicine. This is a time when they are open to learning and adapting. Graduate student David Ebertz is hoping to capitalize on this unique opportunity to make an impact on future medical professionals with his project, “Light Up WUSM.” David submitted his proposal to the Student Sustainability Fund and was awarded funding to execute this project at WashU’s School of Medicine. The impact of David’s project is twofold: it aims to reduce the environmental impact of medical students in the short-term, while also hoping to instill sustainable values in future physicians in the long-term.
David plans to use his funding to supply students with LED lightbulbs for their apartments. While undergrads largely live in WashU housing where it is fairly simple to monitor and improve sustainability, graduate students usually rent non-WashU apartments. These apartments can have varying levels of energy efficiency. Light Up WUSM will supply 1,000 LED light bulbs to students living in apartments with less sustainable lighting. This will not only decrease the environmental impact of each student but also reduce electricity costs. Assuming all 1,000 light bulbs are installed, this project will save WUSM students a collective $15,467.90 annually and reduce carbon emissions by 126.5 tons of CO2 annually. By showing WUSM students the immense impact that can be made with minimal effort, this project aims to inspire them to seek energy efficient products outside of what is provided by Light Up WUSM.
The project will be completed by mid-May, but David hopes that it will serve as a stepping stone for future programs that reach medical students. Additional projects can build on Light Up WUSM’s retrofitting program. While Light Up WUSM focuses on LED light bulbs, David envisions “Green Up WUSM,” expanding to low-flow shower heads, clothes lines, and even solar panels.