Wittenberg residence halls are currently involved in the second annual energy savings competition, which is an event that is geared toward the conservation of electricity.
The competition runs from Oct. 31 to Nov. 19, which is a total of 19 days. Each of the seven dorms on campus has its own meter, which is read every day to see how much electricity is used. The goal is to reduce the amount of expended energy.
According to Mark DeVilbiss, Associate Dean of Residence Life, each dorm was measured before the competition began to get an average baseline of energy usage. This number will be compared to the amount of energy usage that is calculated at the end of the competition. The dorm with the greatest percentage of energy reduced will win a pizza party. “The goal is to raise awareness through education, build community, and inspire team spirit,” says DeVilbiss.
But what if some teams are bigger than others? For example, Tower and Firestine have more residents than the Polis House, which won the competition last year.
In order to give each dorm a fair chance in the competition, each dorm’s consumption in the beginning of the competition will be compared to its own end consumption. In other words, the dorms are not competing with each other so much as against themselves.
Assistant Professor of Geography Andrew Scholl says some dorms actually started off with a lower baseline this year than last, which means “some students are already being energy efficient this year.”
The Polis House had a 20 percent less energy usage baseline this year, and they are currently in the lead of the competition. Again, they are not at an advantage since they have to compete against themselves just like the other dorms.
Scholl says 84 percent of electricity in Ohio is produced from coal. Carbon dioxide, a greenhouse gas that contributes to climate change, gets emitted during the production of electricity.
After the first 10 days of the competition, the dorms reduced carbon dioxide emissions by 1200 pounds. This is equivalent to the amount produced by 10 average homes in 10 days.
If these savings continued throughout the year, the amount of reduced carbon dioxide would equal 42,000 pounds. This is the amount produced by 374 homes in one year.
DeVilbiss says the main focus of the competition is to “modify personal habits.”
To save energy, students can unplug electronic gadgets when they are not in use, including phone chargers which Scholl says still use “ghost power.” Time spent watching television or using hairdryers can also be limited to save energy.
Five of the seven residence halls have reduced their energy consumption in the first ten days. DeVilbiss says it is his “personal wish” that all dorms will reach a 10 percent reduction.
In another effort to promote sustainability on campus, each residence hall room will have its own recycling bin to use after Thanksgiving break. DeVilbiss says this move will hopefully increase the recycling rate among students.
Whether it is recycling or conserving electricity, Scholl says, “The biggest, cheapest way to have an impact on the environment is through changing personal behavior.”
(Kelsie Evelsizor / firstname.lastname@example.org)