Story posted November 01, 2010
Let the Competition Begin!
Sustainable Bowdoin employee, Andrew Cushing, caught up with Kaptain Kilowatt as he was preparing for the launch of Bowdoin's 9th Annual Energy Conservation Dorm Competition, running from November 1st through November 30th.
Q: Kaptain, how effective is this Energy Savings Competition?
A: Very effective! In the past years, we've seen dorms drop their energy usage by anywhere from 5% upwards to 50%! Typically all dorms drop their energy usage by some rate, which I consider to be a victory.
Q: What are some of the most basic ways to cut energy use?
A: It sounds obvious, but turning off lights when no one is in the room. Also, taking the stairs, unplugging unused electronics (laptops, cell phone chargers, TVs, etc.)—anything with displays or lights will use electricity even when turned off. Doing laundry in cold water and turning down the heat in your room also helps. With Thanksgiving Break, unplugging things like the mini fridge will be especially important!
Q: Who cares? Why do this competition?
A: Bowdoin currently spends over $2 million per year on electricity costs. A portion of this energy is wasted energy. By encouraging conservation, we help reduce Bowdoin's reliance on energy and save money. Energy conservation by the student body will also help Bowdoin reach its goal of becoming carbon neutral by 2020.
Q: How can we check our progress?
A: Bowdoin has a great online site called Building Dashboard that shows dorm energy use in all sorts of ways—hamburgers, dollars,or pounds of CO2! Check it out at: www.buildingdashboard.net/bowdoin
Q: What do you hope students will get out of this?
A: While I don't expect students to be doing their homework in the 24 hour restroom lights, I do think we can all learn little ways to cut our energy use after this competition concludes. If that means getting in to the habit of taking the stairs, turning off lights in empty rooms or taking slightly shorter showers, then that's a success.
Q: What happens when dorms win?
A: We have several cash prizes for the dorms that most significantly reduce their energy use over the base period —the best first year dorm, best college house, best upperclassmen dorm, and best college house/first year dorm combination will win $150 for their efforts. In the past,the money has gone to throw pizza parties and send yours truly to Cancun (just kidding about the latter).
Q: Some dorms get really into this competition. How do you handle sabotage?
A: Sabotage happens...while it is wonderful to see people get excited about saving energy, we make an effort to keep the playing field fair. Dorms that resort to sabotage will be disqualified.
While I don't expect students to be doing their homework in the 24 hour restroom lights, I do think we can all learn little ways to cut our energy use after this competition concludes. - Kaptain Kilowatt