March 13, 2012
Sorority knocks lights out to win conservation contest
The Alpha Xi Delta sorority knocked the competition's lights out as grand champions in Cornell's bid in an energy saving contest.
Campus Conservation Nationals is a countrywide competition between and within schools to conserve the most water and energy, with the goal of saving one gigawatt of energy among all the participants; this year, Cornell competed only internally among all North and West Campus residence halls, Greek houses, program houses and co-ops, Feb. 6 to 26.
Alpha Xi Delta reduced their energy by a whopping 24.3 percent through such actions as turning off lights when not in use, doing laundry in cold water and air-drying clothes. They also won best sorority. The runner-up for the grand champion prize was also the best fraternity winner, Delta Tau Delta, which tallied a 5 percent energy reduction.
Alpha Xi Delta's success may have been due to the fact that sorority members and leaders were excited and engaged in the contest, said Katherine Fink '12, the energy conservation intern at Cornell's Sustainability Office and lead organizer of the Cornell contest.
Along with a trophy, sponsored by Engineers for a Sustainable World, Alpha Xi Delta also won a barbeque party with a yet-to-be-determined guest speaker, organized and paid for by the Sustainability Office.
"Overall, the top 25 energy reducing residences saved 7,591 kilowatt hours over three weeks. That's equivalent to $1,213.64 in savings or 6,881 pounds of CO2 averted from the atmosphere. Next year we want to double that," said Fink.
Other winners included Watermargin, which won best cooperative with a 3.4 percent energy reduction; North Baker and Baker Tower, which are metered together and won the best West Campus building with a 3.3 percent reduction; Ecology House had a "blackout hour" one weekend and took the best theme house trophy by reducing energy use 2.7 percent; and best North Campus building, Jameson, won by reducing energy needs by 1.8 percent.
"As a pilot program, Cornell's participation was fantastic," said Fink, who added that as a pilot program it was initially challenging to find all the energy and water meters, know how to read them properly, and compile building occupancy and square footage data. But now that the kinks have been worked out, it will be easier next year, Fink added.
On March 27, following spring break, the Sustainability Office will hold a gala to recognize all the winning participants in the Campus Conservation Nationals and its sister campus competition, Recyclemania, a competition among hundreds of U.S. and Canadian universities to see which can reduce its waste stream most by composting and recycling Feb. 5 to March 31. Together the two competitions make up Cornell's Compete to Reduce campaign.