Bathroom Light Signs in IES (Will)

1.1. What

Whenever I go into the IES bathrooms, there is always at least one of the two stall lights on. The main light has an automatic switch, so that is not an issue. However, it seems as though not many people turn off the light after they use it. My goal is to remind more people to turn off the light after they exit by posting a sign in the bathroom. A 100-Watt lightbulb requires over 150 lbs of coal to run for an entire semester. My action seeks to drastically reduce this number. Although the sign can only directly affect a very small part of larger issues, energy consumption, I hope to instill a more conscious attitude for saving energy by turning off light switches in the students and faculty of IES. This change in attitude can be achieved by displaying an interesting fact about energy consumption or light pollution, so the user's thoughts or emotions are provoked. The bathroom is an ideal place for a sign like this because there is a good opportunity of getting the user's attention. The signs will be placed above the toilet for men and on the opposite wall for women. There will be a contest to see who can make the best, most informative and eye-catching sign. This will involve the IES community and advertise conserving energy.

1.1.1. Similar actions from previous semesters

E8: Bathroom light signs

1.1.2. SWOT Analysis


  • Reminds students in a hurry to turn off the bathroom light.
  • Provides information as to why it is important to turn off lights and conserve energy.
  • Challenges the IES community to create the best sign.


  • Small-scale project.
  • Does not guarantee any conservation.


  • Possible change in attitude or spirit of observer about switching off switches.
  • Conserves energy.
  • Competition brings the community together.
  • Revising previous signs (from previous semesters)


  • The signs may be ignored, drawn on or ripped down.
  • Losers of the competition may be upset and purposely ignore the signs.

1.1.3. Feedback Loops

  1. People read the sign
  2. They shut the light off and become more aware about energy consumption.
  3. They continue to shut lights and appliances off after use.
  4. Less energy is wasted.
  5. We can become less reliant on more source of energy.

1.1.4. Advertising

The action will be initially advertised though the competition leading to the creation of the signs. After the signs are created, they will advertise conserving energy.

1.2. Why this action makes things more sustainable

This action does not propose anything unreasonable or difficult. If it is effective, the action's impact will weigh more than the energy saved from turning off the lights in the bathroom. I believe that if I can interest someone, make them think critically (or even just twice), or laugh with a simple line or fact on a sign, it will impact their attitude about turning off switches in the future. Therefore, this action strives to change people's attitudes, which will slowly work to decrease energy consumption and light pollution.

1.2.1. Potential Benefits

If the action changes people's attitudes, it will reduce energy consumption through electricity and light pollution.

1.2.2. Potential Costs

It takes some time to create the signs, print them, laminate them and hang them on the wall. The action will need at least 6 printed sheets of paper and money to laminate them.

1.3. How

There has been a number of energy-saving projects in the past. However, their impacts have been limited due to the large-scale operations and time that significantly reducing energy consumption requires. I have noticed that there are lights on in IES all the time. Even when there is seemingly no purpose, there are often lights on, i.e. lights in an empty classroom. My action seeks to start the movement for saving energy. Since there are only a few weeks remaining, putting up signs in the bathroom to change people's mindsets is a very realistic goal. I hung two signs in the bathroom on the third floor last week to see if it would work. The next day they were both gone. In the next weeks I will try to get the approval from the head of IES to hang signs more permanently in the bathroom stalls. I will hold an online competition among friends and students from IES to create the "best sign," which will be decided by me. The signs will be professional, but eye-catching. They will likely have a large message at the top, such as 'REMEMBER TO SHUT THE LIGHT SWITCH OFF.' On the bottom there will either be a picture or a statement (interesting or funny) about why conserving energy is important. The signs will be lamenated to prevent damage. They also have to be nailed to the wall, or else they will inevitable come down at some point if they aren't securely fastened.

1.3.1. Cradle to cradle design

The only waste that will come from this action is the paper signs. After they lose function the paper will be recycled.

1.3.2. Questions for the unified survey

  1. Would you be willing to reduce energy consumption by simply turning off the lights in the bathrooms after using it?
  2. How often do you shut the lights in the bathroom?
  3. Would you be more likely to turn off the lights if there was a sign telling you to?

1.3.3. Analysis of the results in the survey

8/11 people who answered the first question answered yes.
6/11 people who answered the second responded always. Two said sometimes and two said usually.
6/11 people said yes for question 3.

According to these survey results, most people already shut the lights off in the bathroom. However, it also implies that a sign would be beneficial in increasing the times that people shut the lights. My action seeks to change people's attitude

1.3.4. Incentives

The winner of the competition will see their sign posted in the bathrooms and will receive a pizza of their choice from me. There will be no specific incentives beyond the competition for this action because it is very difficult to know if people actually participate.

1.3.5. Relationship with the "Sustainability Club" (SC)

The sustainability club will not need to do anything to get this action accomplished.

1.3.6. How will this action be sustained when you are not here?

The signs will stay up after I leave. They will be replaced if damaged or lost. This effort will be lead by my friend, Josh Levinton, who will be studying at IES Barcelona next semester.

1.3.7. Who will do what

I will host the competition by telling my friends and sending out links in Facebook groups. Once a winning sign is chosen, I will print copies and laminate them. An IES worker may want to put the signs up if they are nailed to the wall.

1.3.8. Comparison to similar actions form previous semesters

There have been a number of energy conserving actions in the past, however few of them have had significant impact. Although the idea of bathroom signs is not new, it has not been successfully implimented in IES. Even though my action provides small-scale opportunity, it is realistic and effective.

1.3.9. Document format

The website I will use for the competition will utilize free and open-source software, and participants will be encouraged to submit .odt files over msword files because they are both internationally recognizable.

I will employ a Creative Commons copyright for this report. A Creative Commons copyright will allow others to modify and improve the action to fit their situation, making it a more long-term sustainable plan. A possible modification would be to expand the signs to all classrooms in IES,

1.4. Time-sheet / Chronogram

December: I will advertise the competition and create an online forum to submit entries. I will choose a winner, print copies and laminate the signs. The signs will be posted and hopefully utilized.
January-May: My friend will ensure that the signs remain intact and in good condition. He will replace them with copies that I will send him if necessary.

1.6. Annexes

1.7. Students involved in this action


Page last modified on Tuesday 11 of December, 2012 21:20:46