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Mckenzie Beverage
IU Bloomington Sustainability

Last modified: Wednesday, April 15, 2009

IU Energy Challenge heats up as dorms cool down

April 15, 2009

BLOOMINGTON, Ind. -- Halfway through the IU Energy Challenge, participating students at Indiana University Bloomington are putting up big numbers and saving substantially more energy than last year's competitors.

As of the mid-point reading, students in IU dormitories have saved more than 314,000 kilowatt-hours (kWh) of electricity and 448,000 pounds of CO2, 30 percent more than last year's competitors had saved by this time.

The Greek community, absent from last year's competition, is adding to the numbers. While much smaller in scale, the Greek House Challenge has saved more than 11,200 kWh, increasing the total energy saved on campus so far to more than 325,000 kWh. At this rate, last year's total savings of 446,000 kWh will be surpassed in a matter of days.

The increased savings this year are being attributed to increased awareness and student participation. "This year has been so much larger; the residents are really getting into it," said Tyler Duffey, a resident assistant in Teter Quad.

Teter jumped out to an early lead in the Energy Challenge. During the competition, it has held its own "Green Week," intended to raise awareness through such events as the observance of Earth Hour -- an international "lights out" campaign -- and a presentation about peak oil by Bloomington City Council member Dave Rollo.

The Greek community has embraced conservation as well, as its savings prove.

"Our house has been making a conscious effort to lower the use of unneeded electricity and water," said Lucy Wehking, president of Greeks Go Green and member of Kappa Kappa Gamma. "I have noticed many lights and lamps turned off throughout the house, especially during the day when those light sources are not needed. Also, when I walk into the bathrooms I notice many unplugged appliances, such as hairdryers, straighteners, and iPod speakers."

For those in first place the excitement continues to build. Aaron Slovin from the leading Greek house, Sigma Alpha Mu, said, "Being the first year of the Energy Challenge in the Greek community, I wasn't sure how the house would respond to our plea to save as much energy as possible. However, the response has been overwhelmingly positive and our house is ecstatic about the challenge. During our chapter meeting last Sunday when we announced that we were in first place, someone even turned off the lights right then!"

Many participants are keeping mind of the bigger picture despite the rankings. Kevin Pozzi, a resident assistant in Forest Quad, said, "Even as we struggle to break out of last place, I have noticed people around the dorm -- myself included -- constantly turning off bathroom lights when not in use, unplugging unused appliances, and keeping their AC/heat off whenever possible. Being in last place is only part of the equation -- it will all be worth it if we can even just improve upon our conservation efforts from last year."

Tyler Duffey agreed: "For me personally, this is about more than a four week challenge; it's about changing the way in which we live and interact with the environment around us. Regardless of individual beliefs and views, taking care of what has been given to us is part of being responsible citizens of our planet."

The Energy Challenge will end Wednesday, April 22. Dick McKaig, the IU vice provost for student affairs and dean of students, will announce the winners at 3 p.m. that day in Dunn Meadow. To learn more about the IU Energy Challenge and to see the current standings go to