Students who turned off their lights before jetting off on winter break helped Penn save $2,300 on its electricity bill.
In the second year of the Power Down Challenge, college house residents reduced energy use by 7.23 percent from last year’s winter break.
Students pledged online to turn off lights, unplug appliances and shut windows before leaving campus for winter break.
Environmental Sustainability Coordinator Dan Garofalo said the tool of “social-based behavior change” made the program a success.
The participants “made a commitment in a public way,” which Garofalo believes motivated them to fulfill their promise to power down.
DuBois College House had the largest rate of pledges, where 100 percent of residents signed up.
Rodin witnessed 313 pledges, the highest number among all the college houses.
Garofalo explained that the success of DuBois and Rodin was largely due to the efforts of Eco-Reps — environmental leaders in college houses.
“They wouldn’t take no for an answer,” added Julian Goresko, sustainability student outreach associate for the Penn Green Campus Partnership
DuBois Eco-Reps and College sophomores Bailey Brown and Chelsea Ivey “fearlessly went door to door,” said Goresko, and displayed the names of the students who had pledged in the ground floor of the college house.
College sophomore Amanda Johnson said she signed up for the Power Down Challenge at a station set up by Eco-Reps in the DuBois lobby.
She added that the e-mails she received and the signs hung in DuBois were good reminders for her to unplug her appliances before break. “It provided me with more motivation,” Johnson said.
Students from the winning college houses will enjoy a dessert party and receive free t-shirts and power strips.
According to Goresko, the efforts of individual students had a direct impact on Penn’s energy savings.
Data indicated that college houses with the highest participation rates had the highest energy reductions, he said.
Graduate students, students living off-campus and students in Greek houses also made an effort to power down, he added.
Ken Ogawa, executive director of operations and maintenance for Facilities and Real Estate Services hopes that students also gain a “life lesson” from the experience.
“This is a way to change the culture for the next generation,” he said.
Many students, for example, do not realize the effects of “vampire electricity,” said Garofalo.
“A lot of appliances continue to draw electricity when they’re plugged into outlets” even when they are turned off, he said.
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