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Water and energy challenge builds awareness



In spring 2008, informatics graduate student David Roedl created a website for his master’s capstone project that tracked the electricity and water consumption for a set of residence halls. What started as a project became a campus-wide challenge to conserve the most energy and water, which has taken place at IU every semester since 2010.

The IU Spring 2015 Energy Challenge begins today and goes through April 16.

IU Office of Sustainability utilities conservation intern Hayley Smith said the purpose of the challenge is to instill conservation behaviors in participants with the hope they will continue them throughout the rest of the year.

“The Energy Challenge has become an IU tradition because this university is committed to promoting sustainability and decreasing our impact on the environment,” Smith said in an email. “The Energy Challenge helps spread awareness of the effects of individuals’ actions and the importance of practicing conservation behaviors.”

Compared to its history, this spring’s challenge comes with a new addition: a social media contest. Taking part is one of the great ways to get involved with the Energy Challenge, Smith said.

“The contest involves students taking pictures of themselves participating in various sustainable activities and posting them to our Facebook or Twitter pages,” Smith said. “Students earn a point for every picture they post, and points can be redeemed for gift cards.”

Smith said the goals for this year’s and future challenges are to increase participation and savings, which have made a significant effect on IU and the ?community.

“Since its inception, the Energy Challenge has saved IU $1.2 million, more than 27 million gallons of water and almost 12 million kilowatt hours of electricity,” she said. “These numbers reflect estimates of savings throughout the academic year as a result of behaviors learned during the competition.”

Andrew Predmore, associate director of sustainability at IU, said increasing participation is a focus of the Energy Challenge.

“It raises awareness among students for their day-to-day use of energy,” he said. “We hope their actions in the challenge translate to a behavioral change in ?the future.”

Predmore also said as the years progress, so does participation. Greek organizations have made a big increase in involvement this year, he said, going from less than 20 organizations in the first year to nearly 30 for this year’s challenge.

The Energy Challenge’s web page has a list of “Quick Conservation Tips.” These include turning off and unplugging appliances after use, setting your computer to sleep after five minutes of inactivity and more.

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