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Indiana University

Winners announced in IU Fall Energy Challenge

November 9, 2010
Bloomington, Indiana --

The 28-day competition among residence halls, academic buildings, and Greek houses was designed to foster changes in behavior that will result in the reduction of electricity and water usage. It marked the fourth Energy Challenge at IU Bloomington and involved approximately 18,000 people. Nearly 40 percent of buildings on campus competed.

Provost Karen Hanson announced the winners of the Energy Challenge before a Nov. 4 campus lecture by New York Times columnist and best-selling author Thomas Friedman.

Willkie took first place among the residence halls, the School of Public and Environmental Affairs (SPEA) placed first among the academic buildings, and Alpha Omicron Pi sorority won among the Greek houses. Both Willkie and SPEA conserved 24 percent below their expected electricity and water usage, and Alpha Omicron Pi was 23 percent below expected.

Traveling trophies were awarded to the winner in each category and will be housed in the winning building until the next competition, when the new winner will take possession.

The residence halls, academic buildings, and Greek houses saved a combined total of 541,206 kWh of electricity and 1,286,199 gallons of water. Approximately 842,116 pounds of CO2 emissions were avoided from the atmosphere and an estimated $34,738 was saved.

Before the Energy Challenge began, it was known that construction in Briscoe caused increased water usage in McNutt and Briscoe residence centers. The two centers were taken out of the larger competition and given their own competition category measuring only electricity. After investigating an error in the water data that was discovered midway through the competition, Energy Challenge organizers identified a large water leak in the Read residence hall. The leak precluded accurate representation of water usage at Read, so the residence hall was placed in the electricity-only competition with McNutt and Briscoe. Of these three, McNutt conserved the most electricity, approximately 21.5 percent of its expected usage.

The purpose of the Energy Challenge is to instill conservation habits in participants. It rewards participants for making small behavior changes that, when performed collectively, can substantially decrease Indiana University's environmental impact.

"Collins is home to a lot of passionate, engaged students, so we've had a lot of participation in energy conservation," said Will McHenry, director of environmentalism for the Residence Halls Association and a resident of Collins Living-Learning Center. "The Energy Challenge is an environmentalist's dream come true: It promotes reducing energy and water consumption to a wide variety of people and gives each one an incentive to get involved. The fact that our savings are due simply to behavioral changes shows just how much of an impact we can have."

Chase McVean, Greeks Go Green president, said: "I love how many Greek houses actually care about energy conservation. Just the amount of waste prevented is spectacular enough. In my house alone, I've seen guys turning off the lights when they leave a room and even unplugging their televisions when they're not using them. All it takes is a few tips on how to save energy and your electric bill really sees the difference."

In total, the four Energy Challenge competitions since 2008 have conserved 2,753,850 kWh of electricity and 6,061,365 gallons of water. This is enough electricity to power 2,753 average American homes for 12 weeks and enough water to fill more than 10 Olympic sized swimming pools. Approximately 4,392,252 pounds of CO2 emissions have been avoided, and the university has saved an estimated $199,469 in utility costs.

The purpose of instituting an Energy Challenge in the fall is to measure the impacts of the Energy Challenge. Having an Energy Challenge in both the spring and the fall will provide that opportunity. The 2011 Spring Energy Challenge will continue the tradition of conservation.

The Energy Challenge is one of many ongoing sustainability initiatives at Indiana University. To learn more about sustainability-related programming and events, visit http://www.indiana.edu/%7esustain/. For more information about the 2010 Fall Energy Challenge and tips for conserving energy and water, visit http://energychallenge.indiana.edu.

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