Sparks fly among honors dormitories in energy conservation contest

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Michelle Camp, environmental science senior, has been working on the “Quad Energy Challenge” which began Monday and ends Oct. 21. The project aims to help the honors dorms save energy.
 

Photo Credit: Raveena Bhalara | Daily Texan Staff

With a $500 prize on the line, honors students might become obsessed with power instead of grades this month.

Turning their lights off is one thing students living in the Littlefield, Carothers, Blanton and Andrews residence halls will do as they compete against each other to see who can save the most energy. UT has installed sub-metering technology in the four dorms, and the meters are tracking each individual floor. The competition started Monday and ends Oct. 21. The floor that has the greatest percentage of energy saved in each dorm will be awarded $500 for a social event.

Michelle Camp, environmental science senior, leads the “Quad Energy Challenge.” She proposed the project in 2011, and she said she is excited to see it launch.

“I can’t wait to see the results and see the huge reductions,” Camp said. “If we do see big savings, UT can potentially install this technology in more buildings on campus so they can save more energy all across campus.”

She proposed the project to the Green Fee Committee, a group that awards funds to various environmental science projects across campus. Camp said the committee awarded her more than $23,000 for her project.

The project has a website, quadenergychallenge.com, which tracks and displays the energy savings of each dorm and floor. Students can go on the website at any time to see the latest results, and it is updated every few seconds. Camp said a design class built outdoor visuals for the Quad that show which dorm is leading in the competition.

Camp said she was pushing visibility with the website and visuals because awareness is an important part of energy conservation.

“It is hard to conceptualize your energy usage when you’re looking at the whole building,” Camp said. “When you can really break it down to the floor and wing level, students can start to understand how much energy they personally use.”

Karen Blaney, coordinator of the Green Fee Committee, said Camp’s project and others that monitor energy usage help conserve.

“If energy users are going to make a decision on whether they are going to change their individual habits, it is much easier for them to do so if they can see the impact their decision has,” Blaney said. “That is what a project like this does.”

Justin Jaskowiak, Whitis Residence Halls area manager, is working with Camp on the project. Although the competition just started, Jaskowiak said he is confident residents will commit to the project.

“One of the best parts of working with and supporting student leaders is the energy they bring to initiatives that promote building community and personal development,” Jaskowiak said.

Camp said students can save energy by turning lights off and opening blinds to use natural light. She said they could also unplug unused appliances. Even when turned off, a plugged-in printer and other devices still use power.

As of Monday night, Blanton was in first place in the competition, according to the website.

Printed on Tuesday, October 2, 2012 as: Sparks fly in honors dorm energy contest