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Office of sustainability hosts energy competition

Ann Marie Jakubowski | Wednesday, March 21, 2012

This March, the Office of Sustainability is working to make sure the buildings on each quad are just as green as the lawns and trees around them. The fourth annual campus energy competition is taking place from March 10 to 30, splitting the 29 residence halls into four teams to collectively “go green”.

Rachel Novick, outreach program manager for the Office of Sustainability, said the project’s goal is to build awareness about energy conservation among students on campus. The office has projects aimed at reducing energy in classroom and facility buildings, but Novick said the residence halls are also an important target.

“We definitely want to work with buildings across campus to conserve energy, but students have the most opportunity to impact the places where they live,” Novick said. “It’s a great educational tool and provides a way for them to think about sustainability and making more sustainable choices.”

The four teams are South Quad, North Quad, West Quad and Mod/God Quad. The competition takes into account the varying number of dorms on each team, as well as each dorm’s respective size and characteristics.

“Each dorm is ranked online against its own baseline, using data from a few weeks ago to compare conservation rates individually for each dorm in each quad,” Novick said.

The competition’s progress can be tracked online through the Energy Dashboard on the Office of Sustainability’s website, which updates the energy use data for each dorm regularly and shows each team’s current ranking. Novick said the dashboard data will continue to be updated even after the competition so interested students can keep track of how their dorm consumes energy compared to the others on campus.

“The dashboard is a fantastic tool because people can really see the impact of the energy they’re using and see the use in their dorms change day by day,” Novick said.

Similar competitions have been held each year since 2008, but according to Novick, the decision to group the dorms in teams was new for this year.

“We teamed the dorms up in quads instead of having everyone on their own because we thought it would be fun to have quad events as part of the competition, and we also wanted to see more cooperation among the dorms,” Novick said.

Sustainability commissioners from each dorm are in charge of posting flyers to spread news of the competition, as well as to tell their hall mates about opportunities to conserve energy.

“We definitely encourage students to think about those things or items that sit around the dorm, like a freezer or refrigerator in a break room that might be rarely used,” Novick said. “Clothes dryers might be the biggest energy user in the dorm.”

According to the energy dashboard, South Quad leads in the competition with a 30.6% energy reduction as of Tuesday night, closely followed by Mod/God Quad, which attained a 28.4% reduction.

Contact Ann Marie Jakubowski at ajakubo1@nd.edu