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Energy Challenge

Wednesday, Feb. 8, 2012

Santa Clara University’s Office of Sustainability partnered with the Housing Office to kick off 2012 with the 3rd Annual Energy Challenge. The challenge officially began on January 15th. On-campus residents are competing throughout the Winter quarter to reduce their building’s energy consumption. Residents in the building that reduces its energy use the most compared to its historical average will be the winners! In other words, current residents are trying to use less energy than the residents who lived in their building in the past. During the 2011 Energy Challenge, residents collectively saved 85 mWh of electricity, enough energy to power the Pat Malley Fitness and Recreation Center for 6 weeks! The competition is really heating up as residents try to beat last year’s savings.

This year, the winning building will receive a set of community bikes, to check out from their building's service desk for resident use. There are also prizes throughout the quarter. A building will also be recognized for having the most enthusiastic residents. Enthusiasm is measured based on a number of factors, including attendance to the 2nd Annual Eco-Fashion and Art Show on February 2, as well as feedback from Resident Directors, Community Facilitators, and Community Councils about the overall awareness and enthusiasm in their buildings. Residents can also earn "enthusiasm" points by e-mailing the Office of Sustainability about the Energy Challenge, or posting on the Sustainability at SCU Facebook page. The building that wins Most Enthusiastic will be awarded with an offset to the building’s Winter quarter greenhouse gas emissions.

The ultimate goal of the Energy Challenge is simply to make more residents aware of their role in conserving energy. SCU is striving to become climate neutral by the end of 2015, and students will play a big part in achieving that goal. About 80 percent of an on-campus building’s electricity consumption is from the use of artificial lighting and electronic appliances. Although campus initiatives like upgrading lighting and heating systems helps us get closer to our climate-neutral goal, students can make a daily impact by turning off the lights and unplugging electronic devices. On January 31, the Office of Sustainability promoted a voluntary Zero-Energy Hour so that students could see the dip in the real-time energy graph if they all turned off their lights and cut their energy use for just one hour. This dip was visible for Campisi and Swig halls.

Whether or not these energy-saving habits will “stick” is one of the challenges we face when trying to develop a culture of sustainability at SCU. The Energy Challenge will hopefully bring out the passion residents have for their Residential Learning Communities and inspire them to make their building the Energy Challenge champion (and the coolest) on campus for many years to come. After all, the Energy Challenge is just good practice for the rest of the year! Let the 2012 competition show who has what it takes to be an Energy Champion.

Read more about the Energy Challenge, and for more information check out the Sustainability at SCU Facebook page or Twitter, or email Also look for our ads in the ASG Weekly email and The Santa Clara Newspaper.

By Amelia Evans, '13, Sustainability Intern

Tags: Buildings and Grounds, Climate Neutrality, Energy, Program Highlights, Residence Life, Student Life



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