Penn State students take top honor in Big 10 Campus Conservation Nationals

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. -- This year, Penn State students participated in the Campus Conservation Nationals (CCN) Big 10 Unplugged. The CCN is the largest electricity and water reduction competition program for colleges and universities in the world. This was the first year for the Big 10 Unplugged subcommittee of CCN. Penn State beat out Ohio State, Michigan State, University of Minnesota-Twin Cities, University of Wisconsin-Madison, University of Nebraska-Lincoln and University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign for reduction of energy and in the poster competition.

Another first for this competition — this is the first time that this competition was coordinated by a student group. Ciara Hovis, an intern with Penn State’s Sustainability Institute, recruited five fellow students: Doug Hiban, Julia Schaller, Sophia Latriano, Trey Cruser and Seamus O'Hara; to serve as the Challenge Organizing Committee.

“The combination of staff and students working together was the key to the challenge's success,” said Ciara Hovis. “I am a firm believer that students learn the best through down-to-Earth, peer-to-peer interaction and this challenge would not have been nearly as engaging without it.”

Students in East Halls (14 buildings) participated, with Tener Hall having the biggest overall reductions. McKean and Sproul halls took second and third, respectively. More than 2,500 first- and second-year students took part in the challenge. Ice cream socials, Glow in the Dark Bingo and volleyball were some of the activities the student took part in to help spread the word about reducing energy consumption. These efforts led to a savings of 11,000 kWh of electricity, which is enough to power an average Pennsylvania home for a year.

Students at Penn State saved enough energy to power the average Pennsylvanian home for a year.

“Just by doing small things like turning out lights and being mindful of your electricity use, you can make a difference. It all adds up,” said Rob Andrejewski from the Sustainability Institute, who served as one of the advisers of the competition.

All competitions were run and visualized using Lucid’s Building Dashboard, a website that allows students to track competition standings, analyze performance and share winning strategies. The challenge ran from Feb. 3 to April 25.

“The students did an excellent job and created a model that can work well in the future,” said Andrejewski. “I am really proud of the students who participated. The Penn State Eco-Reps, interns from the Office of Physical Plant, resident assistants and the Challenge Organizing Team worked hard to make this event a success. I'd be surprised if anyone in East Halls didn't know the challenge was happening, which is a feat in itself.”

CCN is jointly organized by the U.S. Green Building Council, Lucid, National Wildlife Federation and Alliance to Save Energy. This is the fourth year for the competition. In 2014, CCN saved 2.2 million kWh, which equals the removal of 201 houses from the grid for one year. The water saved totaled 1.8 million 1-liter water bottles.

The competition, at Penn State, was supported by a partnership between Housing, Residence Life and Penn State’s Sustainability Institute. To see Penn State’s dashboard and check out all the numbers from the challenge, visit http://buildingdashboard.net/psu/. For more information on sustainability at Penn State, visit sustainability.psu.edu.

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Last Updated May 12, 2014