Nine UC campuses are competing against each other in a nationwide energy and water reduction competition called the Campus Conservation Nationals, which runs from Feb. 16 to March 8 and involves a total of 186 colleges.
The competition will judge campuses by comparing their energy use in this timeframe to a January baseline, with the winners being the campuses that show the greatest percentage decline in energy use. The sponsors of the competition will install customized electricity- and water-use dashboards in two of the grand prize winners’ campus buildings.
Residence halls are representing all of the UC campuses in the competition except UC Berkeley, whose contest entrant is Mulford Hall. At UCSD, two of Muir College’s freshman residence halls are competing against each other and other campuses.
UCSD student Annie Paul, who is helping to coordinate the contest at Muir, is optimistic about her college’s prospects in the competition.
“I think if we can keep the spirit up throughout the three weeks, we can see significant savings,” Paul told the UC Newsroom. “Being on a team and representing different residence halls will help.”
Taylor McAdam, the senior education associate with the Alliance to Save Energy and another co-organizer of the contest, told the UC Newsroom that the goal is to promote and instill conservation habits that students will continue to use after the competition ends.
“Of course we want [students] to conserve energy during the competition,” McAdam said. “But Campus Conservation Nationals is about creating an awareness of conservation behavior and promoting a culture of sustainability.”
Each campus is using events, posters and stickers on light switches to encourage students to save energy and water. Some campuses are also using gift cards and pizza parties to entice students to conserve.
During last year’s competition, 265,000 students from 109 colleges participated. In total, the participants cut over two million kilowatt-hours of electricity and 476,000 gallons of water, saving their colleges approximately $198,000. Students also prevented three million pounds of greenhouse gases from entering the Earth’s atmosphere.
Lucid Design Group, one of the competition’ co-organizers, provided a dashboard and website to monitor energy use in the participating buildings.
In addition to the Alliance to Save Energy and Lucid Design Group, the National Wildlife Federation and the Center for Green Schools at the U.S. Green Building Council also helped organize this year’s competition.
Similarly, the University of California announced that it has made significant progress with its Sustainable Investment Strategy.
“The University of California is making measurable, solid gains on sustainability, not only through our investments but on our campuses, in our laboratories, at our medical centers and elsewhere throughout the system,” UC President Janet Napolitano said in a Feb. 19 press release. “We will continue to leverage the tremendous brain power and innovation of our public university system to work toward a solution to climate change.”
The UC system will invest at least $1 billion over the next five years into researching climate change solutions. As a result, the White House announced last week that will heavily involve the UC system in its Clean Energy Investment Initiative.
Moreover, last month’s Global Universities Index awarded the University of California with its top spot. The index, which the Asset Owners Disclosure Project publishes, ranks 278 leading university endowments based on their ability to effectively manage climate change opportunities.