Power Down Challenge encourages students to unplug electronics and conserve energy
The college house to conserve the most energy will win a catered dessert party and other prizes
October 31, 2011, 8:03 pm·
After Halloween, students in college houses will turn their attention to fighting vampire electricity.
Until Nov. 20, the Power Down Challenge, an effort by the Green Campus Partnership and student Eco-Reps, will encourage students to conserve energy. Students from the college houses will be challenged to reduce their house’s electrical energy consumption by at least 5 percent.
One of the goals of this year’s competition is to combat “vampire electricity” — energy that is consumed by electronics while they are turned off. As an extension of the Halloween theme, Eco-Reps in Fisher-Hassenfeld College House plan to dress up as vampires and give out candy while educating residents about the challenge.
Green Campus Partnership has spent the last two weeks monitoring buildings to develop a baseline for comparison. Standings boards will be placed in the college houses and will be updated each week. The winning college house will receive a catered dessert party, along with a raffle for a T-shirt and other prizes.
College house residents can conserve energy by plugging electric devices into power strips and turning them off when not in use, turning off lights, keeping windows closed when the heat is on, doing laundry with cold water and air drying clothes.
For the past two years, Green Campus Partnership has run a power down challenge before winter break. The contest has asked students to pledge to unplug electronics and close windows before leaving campus.
“This competition grew out of our messaging around the holidays,” said Julian Goresko, sustainability student outreach associate at Green Campus Partnership.
The challenge is being held at the same time as Campus Conservation Nationals, a competition for colleges and universities to reduce resource consumption. Penn is considering participating in the competition in the future.
“A lot of students will understand what we’re trying to do and hopefully will take it to heart,” Environmental Sustainability Coordinator Dan Garofalo said .
Though he acknowledged that some students might not take part in the effort, he hopes environmental awareness and energy conservation will eventually become “normal behavior” at Penn.
“Talking about environmental issues can be stale for some, but the competition really brings to life the role you can play on Penn’s campus and in your house and community,” Goresko added.
Garofalo stressed the “peer-to-peer communication” aspect of the challenge. The effort is mainly student-run, with each of the college houses conducting their own events to inform residents of the competition, he said.
“Every Eco-Reps group is doing something different,” College sophomore and student coordinator of the Power Down Challenge Madison Robertssaid. She also stressed the importance of peer influence and hopes the participation will grow due to a “snowball effect.”
Harrison College House Eco-Reps hope to encourage energy conservation beyond the challenge. Behavioral prompts that encourage students to turn off lights will be placed in public areas of the building.
“Even though we’re not teachers, we have an opportunity to contribute to the educational mission [with the Power Down Challenge],” Garofalo said.
“I hope this becomes an annual thing,” Roberts added.