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Will McHenry
IU Office of Sustainability

Last modified: Thursday, September 29, 2011

Second annual Fall Energy Challenge to begin Wednesday

Sept. 29, 2011

BLOOMINGTON, Ind. -- Indiana University will celebrate the second running of the Fall Energy Challenge from Wednesday (Oct. 5) through Nov. 2.

The program, a campus competition to reduce energy and water consumption, was implemented in the spring of 2008. It has expanded each semester to include a growing number of residence halls, academic buildings and Greek houses. This semester, the IU Office of Sustainability will focus its efforts on increasing participation and engagement within veteran buildings.

"Much of the effort and energy put into the program in its first few years was focused on expanding the scope of the challenge and increasing the breadth of buildings participating," said Will McHenry, Energy Challenge coordinator with the IU Office of Sustainability. "Thanks to the hard work of former interns, we're now able to put more emphasis on increasing the intensity of participation and enthusiasm within the buildings that have been in the challenge for some years."

In pursuit of these goals, McHenry and the Office of Sustainability are rolling out a new promotional campaign for the program. The new campaign will focus on securing written, public commitments from participants to engage in sustainable behaviors during the four weeks of the competition.

Participants will receive pins declaring "I'm taking the Energy Challenge!" upon signing the electronic pledge form. They will also be invited to have their photos taken in a traveling photo pledge booth. The photos will then be uploaded to the program's website and Facebook page.

"The pledge pins and photo pledge booth allow participants to show to others their commitment to conservation," said McHenry. "As pins and photos increase in proliferation, the sense of a community norm of conservation will arise, encouraging others to engage with the program."

The purpose of the Energy Challenge is to instill conservation habits in participants, who are rewarded for making small behavior changes that, when performed collectively, can substantially decrease IU's environmental impact.

This summer, Nolan Hendon, utility conservation intern with the Office of Sustainability, undertook an analysis of savings in water and electricity attributed to conservation behaviors learned during the Energy Challenge outside of the four-week competition window. During 20 weeks of challenge competition, academic buildings and residence halls have saved 3,813,600 gallons of water and 2,578,028 kWh of electricity. When combined with conservation resulting from the persistence of Energy Challenge behaviors, these savings jump to 24,465,642 gallons of water and 9,438,986 kWh of electricity.

The efforts of the thousands of Energy Challenge participants have resulted in an avoidance of 9,376 metric tons of CO2 emissions and have saved the university more than $1 million in utility costs.

"After our last Fall Energy Challenge we were able to measure -- for the first time -- the persistence of conservation behaviors evident during the challenge," said IU Director of Sustainability Bill Brown. "We were amazed to learn that the dramatic savings, of as much as a quarter of typical consumption, continued in many buildings for months after the challenge period. We are looking forward to the time when all buildings are metered and continuous feedback is made available to building users to extend these savings campus-wide throughout the year."

To celebrate the commencement of the second annual Fall Energy Challenge, the Office of Sustainability is hosting a kickoff parade with the local Jefferson Street Parade Band. The parade will meet at 1:45 p.m. on Wednesday, Oct. 5 at the Sample Gates and will make its way through campus.

For more information about the 2011 Fall Energy Challenge and water and energy saving tips, visit To request pledge pins or to reserve the traveling photo pledge booth for a group or meeting, contact Will McHenry at

The Energy Challenge is one of many ongoing sustainability initiatives at IU. To learn more about sustainability-related programming and events, visit