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Energy Challenge Kicks-off the New Year

Santa Clara University’s 3rd Annual Residence Hall Energy Challenge began Sunday, Jan. 8. The competition involves all residence halls striving to reduce their total energy consumption.
Rather than competing against one another, however, residence halls will attempt to reduce their buildings’ electricity consumption relative to previous years.
Lindsey Cromwell Kalkbrenner, director of the Office of Sustainability, played a major role in establishing the expected energy consumption value for each residence hall. An average of the previous three years’ winter-quarter energy consumption was used to create these values for each building, mixed with other factors including number of students living in each residence hall, or whether a building is air-conditioned.
“Essentially, residents should strive to use less energy than is historically used in their buildings,” Kalkbrenner said. “For example, Dunne residents this year are really competing with the residents from Dunne the past three years.”
To determine the winner at the end of the quarter, each building will be ranked based on its percentage decrease as compared to historical usage. Officially the Energy Challenge only includes cumulative electricity use from Jan. 15 through March 17. Students can keep track of their residence hall’s electricity use during this time by visiting and seeing their buildings’ real-time consumption.
In the spirit of the game and competition, the 10-week challenge will also include other sustainable activities to promote the importance of energy conservation. One of these events will be the 2nd Annual Eco Fashion and Art Show on Feb. 2. The Eco Fashion and Art Show, a collaboration among numerous student organizations as well as faculty and staff, seeks to educate about the influence and impact of the fashion industry, encourage students, staff, and faculty members to design and produce creative outfits made out of recyclable or waste materials as an educational tool. The event also aims to enlighten audience members about the items and products they frequently may use, and encourage them to think about alternative uses and reuses instead of sending all of these products straight to landfill.
“The Eco Fashion and Art Show is really, really exciting,” Kalkbrenner said. “It is an opportunity for the campus community to learn about sustainability in unexpected ways. We are trying to reach out to more of our communities on campus. The idea is that the more we make outfits out of reused resources rather than virgin material, the more energy we save.”
A campus-wide “blackout” hour for students is also being planned in order to incorporate students in all residence halls. The voluntary hour-long blackout is intended to display how much each  individual’s effort can cumulatively add up, resulting in meaningful reductions even in a single hour.
“The goal ultimately is to develop a culture of sustainability. We want to develop energy-conserving behavior in our residents that starts with a friendly competition but hopefully will last throughout their lifetimes,” Kalkbrenner said. “We are encouraging realistic actions ranging from unplugging chargers when they are not being used, utilizing sleep mode on laptops, using drying racks for laundry, and more. Hopefully all of these communal efforts and ideas will compound and make students appreciate the value that they possess individually to impact sustainability.”
Last year, residence halls conserved enough energy to power Malley Fitness Center for six weeks. That is 85,000 kilowatt hours. This year the goal is to beat that mark.

Go to to find out how you personally can help the cause.

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