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Dorms compete to reduce waste during Energy Week

Maddie Daly | Wednesday, September 26, 2012

The Kill-a-Watt competition, the first dorm energy competition of the year, has officially begun on campus for Notre Dame’s annual Energy Week.

Rachel Novick, who oversees the competition for the Office of Sustainability, said this week is held to encourage students across campus to reduce their energy consumption by hosting the events for the week. The competition began Sunday and runs through Saturday.

“Dorms are judged by what percent they can reduce their electricity usage from the baseline, which is a typical week during the semester,” Novick said.   

Novick said certain dorms seem to be taking the competition very seriously, namely Howard Hall, Fisher Hall and Carroll Hall – the top three dorms as of Tuesday.

“There is a double prize for the winning dorm. They will receive a chalk-talk with coach Jeff Jackson of Notre Dame men’s hockey for the whole dorm plus $1,500 worth of Energy Star appliances from GE,” Novick said.

Students can track their dorm’s progress online with Notre Dame’s energy dashboard, first put into use in the spring of 2011. This interactive site allows students to see real-time data, including comparisons with other dorms. The dashboard was designed with social media in mind and students can chat with each other about the competition.  

One feature of the website is similar to Facebook’s “Like” system.  Students can “commit” to certain habits that will reduce electricity use.  Some of these include using a desk lamp instead of an overhead light, using natural daylight as much as possible and adjusting computer settings to reduce energy use during inactivity.

The dashboard also allows students to view how much energy has been saved during the competition.  As of Tuesday, the campus has averted 21,128 pounds of carbon dioxide emissions and saved 15,091 kilowatt-hours of energy.   

McGlinn sophomore Caroline Fullam said she sees the competition as a great opportunity for the campus to come together and try to change negative behaviors.

“I think it is a great idea to have Energy Week to raise awareness. Also, since it is a competition, Notre Dame students will really get into it,” Fullam said. “Even though McGlinn is third to last in the competition right now, we still have time to spread the word around the dorm and win.”

This is the University’s sixth annual Energy Week, which is co-sponsored by the Student Advisory Board for the Center for Sustainable Energy and GreeND.  

In addition to the dorm energy competition, events for the week include guest speakers from energy companies, a tour of Notre Dame’s power plant, a faculty forum and a community Energy Day tour.  The tour also offers the option to travel by bike instead of bus to emphasize the importance of saving energy.

“Notre Dame students have come together for so many great causes in the past,” Fullam said. “I am glad to see us focusing so much on waste reduction here on campus because we really do have the potential to make a difference.”