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Steve Hinnefeld
University Communications

Last modified: Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Briscoe, Teter are "biggest losers" in IU energy conservation competition

April 22, 2008

BLOOMINGTON, Ind. -- For the past month, students at Indiana University Bloomington have been participating in the campus's first "IU Energy Challenge," an energy and water conservation competition.

As a collaborative effort between the Residence Halls Association, the School of Informatics, IU Physical Plant Utilities and the IU Sustainability Task Force, the Energy Challenge encouraged students living in 10 IU Bloomington dormitories to compete to reduce their energy and water consumption against a baseline of their dorms' average per capita electricity and water consumption over the past three years.

At the end of the competition, Briscoe Quad and Teter Quad claimed first and second place, respectively. Residents of Briscoe reduced their electricity consumption by 31 percent and water consumption by 3 percent. Teter residents reduced their electricity consumption by 16 percent and their water consumption by 14 percent. For their efforts, Briscoe will receive $500 and a celebratory cookout while Teter will receive $250.

Michael Hamburger, co-chair of the Campus Task Force on Campus Sustainability, said the competition is a "perfect example" of the synergy that can develop in a campus-wide sustainability effort.

"It combines a graduate student's creative research project with the technical prowess of IU's Utilities Department and the energy and enthusiasm of several thousand IU undergraduates," he said. "As a result, we've been able to demonstrate that a little creativity can go a long way in saving energy, reducing greenhouse gas emissions, saving dollars and increasing awareness."

Overall, students in the 10 participating dorms have conserved an estimated 446,139 KWh of electricity and 613,919 gallons of water compared to their three-year average consumption. The electricity savings alone is equivalent to the power needed to burn 743,562 60-watt light bulbs for 10 hours. Remarkably, the students' conservation efforts resulted in an estimated $26,000 in avoided utility costs and 801,454 pounds of carbon dioxide emissions associated with energy and water production and distribution, which is equivalent to taking 67 passenger cars off the road for one year.

Karen Hanson, IU Bloomington provost and executive vice president, said, "The dramatic results of the IU Energy Challenge show that the students who participated were tremendously successful in reducing their consumption of resources. I congratulate all the students who took part in the challenge. Their example, their commitment to sustainability, will help encourage all of us in the university community to continue to make beneficial changes in our patterns of energy and water usage."

David Roedl, an Informatics graduate student who designed the innovative Web site for the competition, said the first year of the contest was very successful, based on the savings achieved.

"The results demonstrate the effective role that interaction design can play in raising awareness about resource consumption," he said. "I hope to see this contest become a regular event and be made more fun, engaging and effective from year to year."

Mark Menefee, assistant director of utilities at IU Bloomington, said he and his colleagues were excited about the competition from the start.

"The level of conservation by the students surpassed our expectations and is very impressive," he said. "This was an excellent event that has enhanced people's awareness of their energy and water use on campus. We hope to sponsor future competitions."

Kelly Breeze, RHA director of environmental affairs and co-coordinator of the competition, said it has been heartening to see students respond to the Energy Challenge.

"We've dispelled the notion that young people are too lazy or apathetic to make a difference for the environment," Breeze said. "The results prove that we are motivated enough to make meaningful change."

The project was supported by the campus's Task Force on Campus Sustainability, whose Campus Sustainability Report was released earlier this semester. More information about the contest, final results and tips on how to conserve energy and water can be found at More information about the IU sustainability initiative can be found at