Penn State joins national competition to reduce electricity use on campus

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. -- From March 25 through April 14, Penn State will join more than 200 universities and colleges nationwide in a competition to achieve the greatest electricity reductions in their residence halls over a three-week period. Fight the Power: The East Halls Energy Challenge is part of Campus Conservation Nationals (CCN) 2013.

CCN was created by the Center for Green Schools at the U.S. Green Building Council through its Students Program and in partnership with Lucid, the Alliance to Save Energy and the National Wildlife Federation.

Residents in each of the 14 buildings in East Halls will compete against one another for the greatest energy savings, with efforts from all participants accumulating to reach a national challenge goal. Using Lucid’s Building Dashboard, competitors will be able to instantly compare performance, share winning strategies and track standings among the leading schools and buildings. Between March 11 and March 24, student interns in the Office of Physical Plant (OPP) will tally each hall’s daily energy usage (in kilowatt hours) to establish a baseline. During the competition, energy usage will be measured daily and compared to the baseline. The greatest percent reduction from the baseline rate wins.

"Competitions like Fight the Power are a fun way to engage, educate and empower students to make changes in their own lives."

— Rob Andrejewski, program coordinator, Penn State

Penn State’s Sustainability Institute has created a program team with members from Residence Life, Housing, Office of Physical Plant, Engineers for a Sustainable World, National Electrical Contractors Association and the Penn State Eco-Reps. Eco-Reps are the points of contact in each building and will be joined by an additional 50 first-year-student volunteers to act as "building captains."

During the CCN 2012 competition, more 208,000 students, living in 1,200 buildings at 100 colleges and universities, collectively reduced 1.7 MWH of electricity and 1.5 million gallons of water, saving schools $157,925 worth of electricity. The 2013 competition will build on that success and encourages students to brainstorm innovative solutions for how their school can save energy and cut costs.

There will be a number of Fight the Power events throughout the competition, beginning with a Kickoff in Findlay Commons from 7 to 9 p.m. on Sunday, March. 24. A full list of events is available on the Sustainability Calendar at sustainability.psu.edu.

“Ultimately, it’s all about behavior change,” said Rob Andrejewski, project coordinator at Penn State. “Penn State has done a tremendous amount to upgrade its infrastructure and increase resource efficiency. However, we recognize that behavior change and education are critical. Competitions like Fight the Power are a fun way to engage, educate and empower students to make changes in their own lives.”

Activities that take place in buildings, including residence halls, typically account for the majority of energy use associated with campus. In just one week, residents in East Halls use about 117,000 kwH of electricity, enough to supply energy to 10 homes for an entire year. Simple actions such as using power strips, activating power-saving settings on computers and using cold water for laundry can have an enormous impact on energy consumption.

Fight the Power will enable students to teach themselves conservation behaviors as well as community and campus organizing skills. To learn more about the national competition, visit CompeteToReduce.org. To learn more about sustainability at Penn State, visit sustainability.psu.edu.

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Last Updated April 30, 2013