Residence halls engage in energy-saving competition

By Jordan Hearne

Students living in residence halls will begin competing to conserve electricity at noon Sunday.

The first competition took place in spring 2011 and only involved four residence halls, but the competition will be much larger this year.

Clare Paul, marketing manager for Baylor Facilities, said the spring rivalry was more of a pilot program to see if students would participate.

As a result of last semester’s response, Paul said the metering necessary to monitor all of the halls was installed over the summer in anticipation of the coming school year.

Smith Getterman, Baylor’s sustainability coordinator, said the competition is a fun way to get students engaged in conservation.

“The big thing is that the event has expanded beyond last year,” Getterman said.

This fall, all of the residence halls at Baylor will compete against one another for seven weeks.

In the spring 2011 games, the houses of North Village competed as one team, and North and South Russell combined to form another team for the six-week tournament.

Now, each house and both Russell halls will participate separately, bringing the grand total of teams in the competition to 14.

The main goal of the program is to educate students about energy conservation and teach them habits that assist in saving energy.

“Part of it is really just awareness,” Paul said.

“While the competition itself doesn’t make a huge dent in energy use at the moment, it saves energy in the long run by instilling good habits,” she continued.

Each week, one residence hall will compete against another hall in a conservation game, and whoever wins that tournament gains points.

One example of the games is “Dark Hall.” The two teams facing off that week must turn off and unplug everything for one hour. The team that uses the least amount of energy gets 25 points.

At the end of the competition, whichever hall has the most points wins a pizza party and a banner to hang for the remainder of the year.

“We hope to make this a yearly tradition,” Paul said. “For each competition, the banner can move to another hall if it wins.”

She expects the event will continue every fall semester in order to build good conservation habits as early as possible.

Ken Pollard, director of the Baylor Physical Plant, said the event was inspired by a desire to save energy and money for the university.

“It’s a great program, and everybody wins,” he said. “It helps to change our culture and make us more aware of energy use. Funds not spent on electric and gas bills can go to other Baylor programs.”

With different types of games throughout the competition, the program will show students how to make small changes in their everyday routines by turning off electronics when they are not in use.

Pollard said he hopes the program will increase energy conservation in other areas as students go out into the world and carry out everything they have learned.