Willard Wins Campus Energy Conservation Competition

Matt Radler

By Matt RadlerThe Daily Northwestern

In a close contest that came down to the last two days, Willard Residential College beat out Slivka Residential College of Science and Engineering to win the second annual Green Cup in their division. The Cultural and Community Studies Residential College won its division by a wide margin. Students for Ecological & Environmental Development, the contest’s organizer, announced the winners Tuesday.

The university’s residence halls competed to reduce electricity and water consumption over two weeks, from April 9 to 23. The buildings were grouped into two divisions, those with dining halls and those without. The winner with a dining hall, Willard, reduced its electricity use by 7.4 percent and its water use by 4 percent, while CCS cut its electric consumption 47.4 percent and its water consumption 16.4 percent.

SEED Green Cup chairman Brian Chaikind said this year’s competition was more successful than last year’s, with more student participation and bigger reductions.

“We’re trying to show that small, day-to-day actions can have a huge impact, and every year this contest reaches a bigger group of freshmen and sophomores,” said Chaikind, a Weinberg senior. “You can save a tremendous amount of electricity (and) stop the release of a tremendous amount of carbon dioxide.”

SEED awarded points to each hall based on its combined reduction in water and electricity, with one point added for each percentage point cut. Each day, Facilities Management recorded each hall’s use and give the numbers to SEED. An additional five points were added if a hall made a poster promoting the competition, a move that gave Slivka its initial lead over Willard.

The combined campus dorms’ efforts reduced the use of electricity 19,634 kilowatt-hours over the last two weeks, Chaikind said.

“That’s 12 metric tons of carbon dioxide,” he said. “The electricity we saved could power an extra dorm of 174 people for two weeks.”

CCS green/recycling chairman Zheng Zhang, said his hall used several techniques to decrease their energy usage.

“We put reminders, post-its on light switches, on shower doors and even on the flush handle on the toilet,” Zhang said.

The strategy was less formal at Willard, said Weinberg freshman Stuart Anderson, the residential college’s President.

“Everyone was just involved in nagging each other to turn off the lights,” he said. “Everyone was just kind of everyone’s mother.”

Anderson said Willard’s victory capped off a rivalry with last year’s winner in their category, Slivka.

“Slivka’s been menacing us with threats of winning for days,” Anderson said. “We’re all pretty pleased with how this turned out.”

To kick off the competition, SEED gave away compact fluorescent lightbulbs to the dorms. The bulbs conserve energy while giving off the same amount of light as a standard lightbulb, and were donated by local companies such as Bright Electrical Supply Co. and Graybar Electric Co.

Residents of the winning halls will attend a May 4 awards ceremony with food provided by Lou Malnati’s and Ben & Jerry’s.

For Zhang and CCS, however, the real reward is being able to turn all of the appliances back on.

“After a while, you miss the GameCube,” he said.

Reach Matt Radler at [email protected]