UT teaching students to save energy through competition

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Erich Heilmann-Jensen, a computer science senior, usually studies in his room with natural light rather than the overhead light, which he says is too harsh. The second annual Campus Conservation Nationals competition goal will encourage students across the United States to conserve energy in similar manners in an effort to cut down on electricity and water usage.

Photo Credit: Zen Ren | Daily Texan Staff

Campus residence halls will attempt to reduce their energy use for the month of April as part of a national energy conservation challenge.

The second annual Campus Conservation Nationals competition’s goal challenges university residence halls to decrease their energy consumption by one gigawatt. The Power of One Energy Competition on campus, which began on April 1 and will end on April 21, is part of CCN’s national effort to reduce electricity and water use.

“Through Campus Conservation Nationals, hundreds of thousands of students are organizing their peers and campuses to find creative ways to reduce electricity and water consumption in buildings,” said Andrew deCoriolis, director of engagement at Lucid Design Group, the clean tech software company that founded CCN and one of this year’s organizers of the national effort.

Meagan Jones, environmental specialist for the Division of Housing and Food Service, said DHFS has attempted to reduce energy through various means such as installing energy efficient equipment and lighting and efficient compressor systems for dining facilities, but students can help reduce the demand side of the energy.

Jones said students can save energy by unplugging electronics when not in use as electronics and chargers use energy when they’re plugged into the outlets, even when they are off.

“Students can also save energy by turning off lights and using natural light when possible, using lamps instead of overhead lighting, taking the stairs instead of the elevators, washing clothes on cold and taking shorter showers, as it takes energy to make hot water,” Jones said.

Geography senior Andrew Townsend, assistant director of the Campus Environmental Center, said this contest is important because it serves as a teaching tool to help students understand the importance of reducing their own energy use.

“These types of campaigns are very important and help reduce demand-side energy use, which in turn reduces pollution and costs,” Townsend said. “In a world where both are skyrocketing, these are very important to reduce.”

English freshman Rachel Cohen, president of Brackenridge, Roberts & Prather Residence Hall Council, said this program will draw residents’ attention to just how much energy they use on a daily basis.

“It is vital to save energy for many reasons,” Cohen said. “Not only does it cut cost[s] immensely, but it also helps the environment by producing less waste and using
less electricity.”

Printed on Wednesday, April 4, 2012 as: Dorms compete to reduce energy use