Feb. 13, 2014

Engineering saves $15,000 in energy competition

Energy Smackdown participants
Provided
Energy Smackdown participants in Carpenter Hall.

Buildings in the College of Engineering avoided more than 191,000 kilowatt-hours and $15,000 in energy costs through the Energy Smackdown competition held over six weeks in November and December 2013. Ten buildings participated in the competition conducted by the college and the university’s Energy and Sustainability Office as part of their “Think Big, Live Green” campaign.

“Through the energy competition in academic buildings, we’ve avoided $15,000 in energy costs,” said Erin Moore, energy outreach coordinator at the Energy and Sustainability Office. “That could be financial aid for a student or be reallocated to different needs within the college. It’s not going to a utility bill.”

The online Cornell Building Dashboard, a real-time display of electrical, heating and cooling energy costs for campus buildings, was used to monitor energy consumption, and Carpenter Hall won the competition by reducing its electrical energy consumption by 23.7 percent. As a reward for winning the energy competition, Carpenter Hall will receive a green makeover.

Volunteer “green ambassadors” for each of the 10 buildings are trained to work with their peers to encourage resource conservation. Abbey Alexaides, a staff member in the dean's office and the ambassador for Carpenter Hall, said: “We were given ideas on how to engage people in the green initiative and different ways to implement things. For example, if we want people to recycle more, then the recycle bin should be bigger than the waste bin.”

The ambassadors also received a checklist of green actions to implement in their buildings. “We put up light switch stickers and posters to remind people. We replaced space heaters with heated footpads, old power strips with new energy-saving ones that switch off peripherals when the computer is switched off. Over the winter break, we unplugged electrical devices,” Alexaides said.

While the competition was only conducted in engineering last semester, the Energy and Sustainability Office seeks to incorporate two more colleges by the next school year. Moore said: “Competition is a great way to engage people in energy conservation. People can actually see the results of their actions and know that one little thing really does make a difference when you do it as a collective.”

Sushmitha Krishnamoorthy ’17 is a writer intern for the Cornell Chronicle.