My 20 Program challenges students to reduce energy

November 19, 2008

University Park, Pa. -- For one week in October, students were encouraged to reduce their carbon footprint by 20 percent as a part of the My 20 Challenge. From Oct. 17-25, many Penn State students turned off lights and computers at night, took the stairs instead of the elevator and unplugged cell phone chargers to do their part to help the environment.

In fact, some students were so enthusiastic about the initiative that they unscrewed light bulbs in the stairwells and used the bathroom in the dark. 

The goal of My 20 is to show the Penn State community how easy it is to make a difference. Last spring, the program ran during Earth Week. This year the focus was on electricity reduction.

“This challenge got a lot of people thinking about their energy consumption,” John Hurst, assistant director for the Office of Residence Life, said.

With the help of engineers from the Office of Physical Plant, the amount of electricity used per student was tracked over a five-day period and Residence Life coordinators painted the results of residence halls in East on windows in the commons.

Hurst, who is also the chairperson of My 20, said he considers the week a success based on the response from students and thinks that seeing the readings posted may have made it easier for students to see the effect they make on the world.

Students living on the second floor of Hastings Hall in East Halls became particularly involved with the challenge. The residents told their coordinator they wanted their first day 5.31-kilowatt reading to come down, and by Friday, the number had fallen to 4.89.

Kelly Smith, a first-year secondary education major, played an active role in the success of Hastings and sent out an email reminding other residents to turn off lights.

“I love to do my part in helping the environmental situation and cutting down on energy and waste is the best way to do that,” Smith said. “I also reminded everyone in my building to unplug unused chargers and turn off power strips at night in another email later in the week.”

Hurst said he heard about other students sending similar e-mails to fellow residents and that some posted signs with energy-saving tips next to light switches and elevators.

One of the most important objectives of this challenge is for students to begin modifying their behavior in ways that reduce energy.

“I know that I have continued using less energy since the My 20 Challenge,” Smith said. “I feel that it is extremely important for students to become involved because we are fortunate enough to have a campus that supports us.”

Another My 20 Challenge is planned for the week of April 20, which includes Earth Day on April 22. For more information, please

(Media Contacts)

Last Updated March 19, 2009