The Evolution of the IU Energy Challenge

As interns at the IUOS, we, of course, have many responsibilities to fulfill.  One of these responsibilities is that we are asked to write a blog post during our internship, a relatively simple task.  However, in the midst of other internship-related duties and classwork, even simple tasks are infinitely harder to complete if they are forgotten entirely.  Thus, we finished last semester with one less post than expected.  Here I am to make up for that.  And, as fate would have it, my delay has given me something new and noteworthy to expound upon.

Spring 2012 will be IU's first time participating in Campus Conservation Nationals!

In the spring of 2008, IU held its first ever Energy Challenge.  This first Challenge was born from a master’s capstone project by computer science student David Roedl (who has recently returned to IU to obtain his PhD and is currently a fellow IUOS intern). Ten residence halls competed in that first Challenge.  Since then the IU Energy Challenge has been held every spring, and in 2010 the first annual Fall Energy Challenge was held.  Year after year the Challenge acquired more participants; most recently, twelve residence halls, nineteen academic buildings, and nine Greek houses competed.

The success of the Challenges is easy to quantify by comparing the amount of water and electricity used in each building compared to their baselines.  As of May of 2011, IU saved approximately 24.5 million gallons of water and 9.5 million kWh of electricity as a result of the Challenges!  This equates to a savings of nearly $1.1 million since the spring of 2008!

After such success, we are now faced with the task of determining how to continue expanding the impact of the Energy Challenge while avoiding ‘fatigue’ among participants.  In this spirit, IU has decided to compete in its first ever Campus Conservation Nationals (CCN) in the spring of 2012!  CCN is hosted by the U.S. Green Building Council, Lucid Design Group, Inc., the Alliance to Save Energy, and the National Wildlife Foundation.  It is a nation-wide college and university water and electricity reduction competition.  Internally, the opportunity still exists for buildings to compete between one another on the IUB campus; additionally, the CCN now gives us the opportunity to compete among peer campuses in an effort to realize the largest percent savings in utility use.  We hope that our existing tradition of competing in Energy Challenges will give us a leg up in the upcoming CCN!

As an added benefit to our participation, Lucid Design Group, Inc. is providing the free use of their online dashboard to participating schools during the competition (an example can be seen here).  Generally an expensive service, we hope that having such a dashboard for use during the competition will serve to spur interest in utility conservation and increase awareness in individual’s utility use behaviors both during and after the challenge.

We are extremely excited to be taking part in this event, and we hope this excitement is shared by those of you across the campus.  The dates and other details concerning the CCN are still being hammered out, but we look forward in sharing information with you all as it becomes available.  Thank you so much for your interest in this topic, and thank you for your constant mindfulness of your utility use behaviors!

Written by Nolan Hendon, Utilities Conservation Intern at the IU Office of Sustainability, nhendon@indiana.edu.

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