The Office of Sustainability is kicking off the fourth annual Energy Challenge in February, and this year there will be a social media twist. For the first time, the SCU community can keep track of energy use on a public dashboard with real-time data as part of the largest nationwide electricity and water reduction competition on college campuses, the Campus Conservation Nationals. Starting Feb. 4, not only can students see how much energy SCU is using, but also monitor other schools.
“We’re excited to unveil this new tool to encourage our students and community to think about ways they can conserve using a medium they’re comfortable with,” says Office of Sustainability Director Lindsey Cromwell-Kalkbrenner. “They can actively participate by commenting on facebook, receiving Twitter updates and getting comparisons of each building.”
Santa Clara University has a commitment to be climate neutral by the end of 2015. Roughly 80 percent of a building’s energy use is based on lighting and electronic appliances, so the habits of people on campus are vital to attaining this goal.
“We must dramatically reduce electricity use to reach our goal, and engaging students in a fun and rewarding way will help us get there,” says Sustainability Coordinator Cara K. Uy.
The challenge runs Feb. 1 to 28, but the official kickoff event was an acoustic concert on Jan. 30 called “SCU Unplugged” sponsored by KSCU and The Bronco. Students will also be encouraged to turn off lights and unplug all devices Monday, Feb. 11 from 9 to 10 p.m., for a zero power hour. RLCA and CF sustainability liaisons are also asked to host their own awareness programs including playing glow-in-the-dark capture the flag, holding an energy addicts anonymous meeting, and screening a film or documentary that relates to energy.
“We’ve been fortunate to have a lot of support from the Housing Office, campus community, and beyond,” says Cromwell- Kalkbrenner. Prizes donated range from dozens of pairs of Toms shoes and sunglasses to Zipcar gift certificates. The RLC deemed most enthusiastic will also earn a prize.
Staff and faculty can work toward SCU’s climate neutral goal by evaluating their own home and work spaces. Check out these energy-saving tips.
Jackie Gage '14 performs with with her band The Jurassic at "SCU Unplugged" to kick off the Energy Challenge. Photo: New Glare Photography.