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Emilie Rex
IU Office of Sustainability

Last modified: Wednesday, February 6, 2013

IU Energy Challenge to focus on Bloomington residence halls, national competition

Feb. 6, 2013

BLOOMINGTON, Ind. -- Students living in 10 of Indiana University Bloomington's residence halls will participate this semester in the eighth IU Energy Challenge, a competition to conserve energy and water.

Combining student residential life, graduate research and campus operations, the competition integrates aspects of campus life to promote greater environmental sustainability on campus. It will take place Feb. 18 to March 11.

The spring 2013 contest will be held as part of the Campus Conservation Nationals, a nationwide electricity and water use reduction competition among colleges and universities created by the Center for Green Schools at the U.S. Green Building Council. IU Bloomington joins 150 universities and colleges with nearly 250,000 students, all competing over a three-week period. IU Bloomington finished first in the water conservation category in last year's national competition.

Residence halls environmentalism directors

Directors of environmentalism from IU Bloomington residence halls are gearing up for this semester's IU Energy Challenge. Pictured, from left, are Mary Roper, Residence Halls Association; Matthew Bernick, Forest Residence Center; Charis Mortenson, Ashton Residence Center; and Erin Reynolds, Willkie Residence Center.

Print-Quality Photo

While past IU Bloomington competitions included academic, Greek, residence hall and apartment-housing buildings, this semester's competition will be narrowed to residence centers in order to focus participation efforts and pilot a new electricity dashboard created by IU's Physical Plant.

"It is important to be aware of the issue of energy conservation because the energy we all use takes a detrimental toll on the environment," said Charis Mortenson, director of environmentalism for Ashton Residence Center. "The energy challenge helps students think about ways of conserving energy. Through participating in the energy challenge, they learn that in small, personal ways, they can be a force of good in the environmental frontier."

The three-week competition will encourage students living in the residence halls to compete to reduce their energy and water consumption against a baseline of their residence center's average electricity and water consumption.

"Campus Conservation Nationals is an intramural competition as well as an intercollegiate competition where everyone can be part of the IU Bloomington conservation team," said Bill Brown, IU director of sustainability. "If enough students get involved in conserving water and energy for the three weeks before spring break, we will once again finish near the top of this year's national competition, and the participants will have learned new habits that may persist for a lifetime."

Over the seven Energy Challenges to date, IU Bloomington has saved 3,673,619 kilowatt hours of electricity and 7,378,873 gallons of water. When combined with the savings seen throughout the year as a result of behaviors learned during the challenges, IU has saved an estimated $1.2 million in utility bills and has avoided emitting more than 10,000 metric tons of carbon dioxide.

"Energy Challenge and Campus Conservation Nationals demonstrate that everyone can make a difference and small changes can add up to big savings," said Tom Morrison, IU vice president for capital planning and facilities. "Promoting conservation behavior is an important strategy for reducing our energy and water usage, along with improving infrastructure and the energy efficiency of our facilities."

Competition organizers will provide increased access to utility information through two dashboards, which will be projected over digital displays. The first, designed by the IU Physical Plant, will provide 15-minute updates on current electricity usage specific to each residence center. The second is an Energy Challenge dashboard displaying the Campus Conservation Nationals standings among the 10 residence centers competing. This dashboard will be updated daily for electricity and three times weekly for water.

To get involved in planning and organizing competition events, students may visit the "get involved" page or get in touch with their building captains. For more information about the contest, emerging results and tips on how to conserve energy, visit More information about the Indiana University sustainability initiative can be found at