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Will McHenry
IU Office of Sustainability

Last modified: Thursday, March 10, 2011

Fourth annual Spring Energy Challenge to take place March 23-April 20

March 10, 2011

BLOOMINGTON, Ind. -- Indiana University's Energy Challenge, a competition to conserve energy and water, will celebrate its fifth running from March 23-April 20.

In its inaugural season in 2008, the challenge included only 10 residence halls. In 2009, the competition grew to 18 Greek houses, and in 2010, the first eight academic buildings joined the challenge. In the first-ever Fall Energy Challenge this past semester, the field expanded once again, with 19 academic buildings competing. Nineteen academic buildings, 17 Greek houses and all 12 residence halls will participate this spring.

Campus Energy Challenge Spring 2011

The Union Street Center, Residential Programs and Services' newest residence hall, will participate in the challenge for the first time this spring. The recently-constructed building -- which is pursuing LEED Silver certification -- will compete against a projected baseline, based on usage data from the fall season.

New usage baselines have been figured for each academic building, residence hall and Greek house. Baselines are an average of each building's water and electricity usage over the past three years (2008-2010). This is the first year that baselines will reflect only usage data from Energy Challenge competition years, meaning students, faculty and staff will be competing against already-reduced usage patterns.

"Because of the newly-calculated baselines, it will be more challenging for participants to achieve greater percentage reductions in energy and water consumption," said Will McHenry, Energy Challenge coordinator for the Indiana University Office of Sustainability. "However, this also provides Indiana University students, faculty and staff an opportunity to demonstrate their commitment to sustainability by further reducing energy and water consumption."

McHenry was recently appointed as Energy Challenge coordinator by the Office of Sustainability. He replaced Mckenzie Beverage, coordinator of the Spring 2009, Spring 2010 and Fall 2010 Energy Challenges. Beverage graduated in December from the Master of Public Affairs program in the School of Public and Environmental.

The Fall Energy Challenge was developed to observe the impact of the competition on student, faculty and staff behavior throughout the year. Usage data from the months of November 2010 and February 2011 have been recorded and compared to average usage data for these time periods over the last three years. On average, academic buildings and residence halls consumed below these baselines, suggesting that the Energy Challenge alters behavior beyond the four weeks of the competition. This spring's challenge will provide further feedback on the lasting impacts of the Energy Challenge.

To date, the Energy Challenge program has saved a total of 2,753,850 kWh of electricity and 6,061,365 gallons of water and has avoided 4,392,252 pounds of CO2 emissions. The program has also saved the university $199,469. These figures represent only the savings recorded during the four weeks of each Energy Challenge.

" We tend to focus on the dramatic results achieved during each month-long Energy Challenge, but permanent changes in behavior are the most important goal, " said Bill Brown, director of sustainability. "The Utilities Information Group measured continuing significant savings for the months after the Fall Energy Challenge, compared to historic use, which suggests behaviors learned during the challenge are persistent."

The Energy Challenge is one of many ongoing sustainability initiatives at Indiana University. To learn more about sustainability-related programming and events, visit For more information about the 2011 Spring Energy Challenge and tips for conserving energy and water, visit