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Cavanaugh wins energy competition

Irena Zajickova | Monday, December 7, 2009

Despite some fierce competition, Cavanaugh Hall was announced the winner of the Dorm Energy Competition that lasted through November.

The contest, which was sponsored by the Office of Sustainability and Notre Dame student government, measured how much energy each residence hall used during the month of November and compared those figures to previous amounts.

The Chaos reduced their energy usage by $718, which will be donated to the Global Water Initiative and will be used to drill wells in Africa that will provide clean drinking water.

Alicia Vasto, Cavanaugh’s sustainability commissioner, said she was surprised when she found out her dorm won, especially since Cavanaugh was not even among the top five energy-saving dorms at the contest’s halfway point.

“We are all really excited that we won the competition,” Vasto said. “Honestly, it was really unexpected.”

Cavanaugh reduced their energy usage by 34 percent — significantly more than the runner-up Pasquerilla West Hall, who used 27 percent less energy.

Vasto said one of the first things the dorm did for the contest was to participate in the compact fluorescent lightbulb (CFL) exchange. Cavanaugh exchanged more than 50 CFL bulbs for more eco-friendly incandescent bulbs.

In addition to the CFL exchange, Cavanaugh’s residents also tried other ways of cutting their energy usage, Vasto said.

“We set our lights to parietal settings for the entire month. I think that was what really put us over the top and it was such a simple thing to do,” Vasto said. “One of the girls said that her eyes were actually hurting when we set the lights back to normal. I also sent out a lot of reminders to unplug everything, especially before Thanksgiving break, which was really key.”

Vasto said the e-mail reminders were very helpful because her dorm mates wanted to win the competition and the e-mails helped them stay on top of everything.

“I think Cavanaugh girls are already pretty conscious about their energy use so simple reminders were all I really needed to do to get people to participate,” Vasto said. “Plus, we are pretty competitive.”

Vasto said her dorm’s residents were especially eager to participate because the winner’s savings were being donated to such a good cause.

“Because the money was going to the Global Water Initiative, we had greater incentive to reduce our energy consumption,” Vasto said.

Besides helping provide clean water to people in need, one of the greatest benefits the competition provides is educating Notre Dame students about how they can be more environmentally conscious, Vasto said.

“The competition does a good job of raising awareness about our energy consumption on campus and how often we are unnecessarily wasteful,” she said. “There are so many simple things we can be doing to reduce our energy usage on a daily basis.”