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Competition challenges residence halls to reduce energy consumption

By Katie Burke, Daily Staff Reporter
Published November 7, 2011

Residence halls across campus have a new source of rivalry aside from location and dining hall quality: energy consumption reduction.

In a new student-run competition, Kill-A-Watt, nine campus residence halls are competing against each other to have the largest reduction in energy consumption between Oct. 19 and Nov. 18. The participating residence halls are Bursley, Fletcher, Helen Newberry, Martha Cook, Betsey Barbour, and North, South, East and West Quads. At the end of the competition, the University Energy Management Team will measure the percentage of energy reduced in the nine halls to determine the winner.

Residents of the winning hall will also have the opportunity to enter an essay-writing contest about their participation in the contest. The winning essayist will win a $200 prize.

Engineering senior Matt Friedrichs introduced the competition to the University following his participation in a summer internship in 2010 with the founders of the Kill-A-Watt competition at the University of Central Florida.

“(The competition was about) getting involved in the environmental movement on campus,” Friedrichs said. “I saw it as something (our) campus lacked and thought it would be a valuable addition to campus.”

According to Friedrichs, the competition has been successful at the University of Central Florida and resulted in a 10 to 15-percent reduction in energy consumption. Friedrichs said he hopes to see similar results on the University’s campus, though he does not anticipate dramatic or immediate change.

“We just want to raise as much awareness and thought about these issues as possible,” Friedrichs said. “(I expect) moderate energy reduction, not substantial, and students being more aware of energy use in general.”

University Housing spokesman Peter Logan said the competition should inspire a more environmentally-conscious mindset in students.

“It’s certainly a good way to engage the students in thinking in terms of how they, individually and as a community, can help conserve energy and be more sustainable in practice in terms of daily living,” Logan said.

LSA senior Katie Kent, co-founder of Kill-A-Watt, said the goal of the competition is to provide an easy way for students to join the environmental movement. She said there are a variety of ways students can contribute to energy reduction in their residence halls.

“Simple actions like turning off lights in common areas, unplugging devices not in use like cell phone chargers or Xboxes, coming to Kill-A-Watt events and learning more about it and spreading the word” are ways to contribute to the effort, Kent said.

Correction Appended: A previous version of this article incorrectly stated the prize amount for the winning residence hall. The hall will win $200.