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Will McHenry
IU Energy Challenge

Last modified: Friday, November 11, 2011

DeVault Alumni Center, Ashton Residence Center and Phi Mu sorority win IU Energy Challenge

Nov. 11, 2011

BLOOMINGTON, Ind. -- As the 2011 Fall Energy Challenge came to a close, the DeVault Alumni Center, Ashton Residence Center and Phi Mu sorority emerged as winners.

The four-week challenge to reduce electricity and water consumption is designed to foster behavioral changes in students, faculty and staff. The latest competition, which ended Nov. 2, marked the second fall running of the Energy Challenge. This semester, 12 residence halls, 19 academic buildings and nine Greek houses participated in the competition.

Energy Challenge Winners

Some of the Energy Challenge winners recognized today (Nov. 11) were Kelley School of Business' Allan Headley (Spring Challenge winner), left, and Fall 2011 winners Debbie Lemon of the IU Alumni Association, and Jennifer Swilik, Caitlin Crouch, Robert Waller, Julia Stanton and Jennifer Reynolds of Ashton Residence Center.

Print-Quality Photo

Thomas Morrison, IU vice president for capital projects and facilities, announced the winning buildings Friday morning during an IU Energy Challenge Awards Ceremony in Dunn Meadow. Representatives from the winning buildings were presented with traveling trophies constructed from salvaged meters. Winners of past Energy Challenge competitions were also celebrated and were presented with plaques to display in their buildings.

Among the residence halls, Ashton took first place, consuming 18.4 percent below its expected baseline. Teter Residence Center, the 2009 Spring Energy Challenge winner, placed second, consuming 17.6 percent below its expected usage. Foster Residence Center, consuming 7.3 percent below its expected baseline, came in third. The top three residence halls saved a combined total of 142,226 gallons of water and 115,187 kWh of electricity.

Phi Mu sorority came out ahead of Kappa Delta and Alpha Delta Pi, consuming 12 percent below its expected baseline. Kappa Delta and Alpha Delta Pi consumed 8.9 percent and 6 percent below their respective baselines. Collectively, the top sororities saved 10,074 kWh of electricity and 18,484 gallons of water.

Of the academic buildings, the DeVault Alumni Center conserved the most electricity and water, consuming an amazing 36.7 percent below its baseline. Jordan Hall placed second, consuming 27.2 percent below their expected usage, with Woodburn Hall in third, consuming 20.5 percent below its baseline. Combined, DeVault Alumni Center, Jordan and Woodburn saved 841,242 gallons of water and 130,546 kWh of electricity.

The purpose of the Energy Challenge is to instill conservation habits in participants. It rewards participants for making small behavior changes that, when performed collectively, can substantially decrease Indiana University's environmental impact.

This past semester, Will McHenry, Energy Challenge coordinator and intern with the Office of Sustainability undertook a new promotional campaign for the competition. The campaign included a traveling photo pledge booth and an online pledge form that allowed participants to make a public, written pledge to reduce energy and water consumption during the four-week period.

"With the help of student allies in the residence halls, we were able to increase the level of student engagement with and commitment to the program," said McHenry. "By providing students with an opportunity to publicly engage with the challenge and its goals, we found that they became more excited about conservation and more invested in the competition. Beforehand, students had little opportunity to engage with the program in such a manner."

"We also encountered a great deal of center-level programming put on by students in the residence halls," added McHenry. "Read Residence Center was especially impressive in its programming."

Hannah Coots, Read Residence Center eco-rep held a "Greenest Floor Challenge" in conjunction with another program of the Office of Sustainability, the Green Dorm Room Certification Program. About 50 rooms in Read were certified as "green."

"The Green Dorm Room Certification Program is such a wonderful idea in the first place," said Coots. "Making it into a competition between floors helped spread the word and excitement. Students on floors were challenging their neighbors to certify their rooms. Also, having this competition during the Energy Challenge served as a way for students to actually see how sustainable or wasteful they are throughout the day. The goal of the Energy Challenge is to educate students, and to excite and encourage them to live more sustainable lives. This was definitely achieved in Read, and I could not be happier."

Total savings for the academic buildings, residence halls and Greek houses amounted to 359,595 kWh of electricity and 494,739 gallons of water. Overall, the six Energy Challenges have resulted in a savings of 3,430,445 kWh of electricity and 6,556,104 gallons of water during the 24 weeks of competition. When combined with conservation due to the persistence of Energy Challenge behaviors, these savings jump to almost 25,000,000 gallons of water and nearly 10,000,000 kWh of electricity. The efforts of the thousands of Energy Challenge participants have resulted in an avoidance of over 9,300 metric tons of CO2 emissions and have saved the university over $1 million in utility costs.

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 Fall Energy Challenge and tips for conserving energy and water, visit