College Students Save 500,000 Kilowatt-hours of Electricity in Nationwide Campus Conservation Contest | Alliance to Save Energy

College Students Save 500,000 Kilowatt-hours of Electricity in Nationwide Campus Conservation Contest

The nation’s first – and  largest – electricity and water use reduction competition on college campuses saved more than 500,000 kilowatt-hours of electricity and thousands of dollars in energy costs.

The 40 colleges and universities that participated in the "Campus Conservation Nationals 2010" reduced electricity consumption by so much that they saved $50,209 and avoided putting 816,394 pounds of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere.

The Alliance, in partnership with Lucid Design Group and the National Wildlife Federation, established the inaugural Campus Conservation Nationals, in which 120,000 students in schools across the nation competed from November 1-19, 2010, to achieve the greatest energy reductions in their residence halls.

Combating the 'Hotel Mentality' in College Dorms

“Students can be hugely effective sustainability advocates on their campuses and in their communities,” said Jo Tiffany, senior director of education for the Alliance’s Green Campus Program.

“By doing simple things to make energy use more visible, such as emailing residents their weekly energy use, putting up posters with energy and water savings tips and rewarding building users who achieve the most energy savings, students can combat the ‘hotel mentality' often held by dorm residents who do not pay directly for the energy they consume.”

Tiffany noted that one of the Alliance's Green Campus Program schools, Humboldt State University, won the award for the biggest water reduction nationwide. Meanwhile, Alliance Green Campus Cal Poly Pomona won the state-level competition in California for the biggest reduction in electricity use.

“Over the past three weeks, students showed that curtailing electricity and water use is achievable in dorms and residence halls simply by changing their behavior,” said Lucid Public Programs Manager Andrew de Coriolis. “And the savings are impressive – the equivalent of 402,242 miles in a 29-mpg car.”

And the Winner Is...

With 25.8 percent reduction in electricity use, DePauw University is the overall winner and will receive Building Dashboard® for two buildings from Lucid Design Group. The software will enable students to view, compare and share building resource use data, track electricity budgets, host real-time competitions and communicate sustainability efforts to the campus community.
To achieve such substantial reductions DePauw engaged in a wide variety of promotional and marketing activities to motivate its students. Residential Assistants (RAs) on each participating floor made bulletin boards displaying energy saving “Battle Tactics.” Building on their “Battle Tactics,” students could become “Conservation Vigilantes,” going beyond just taking individual actions by making sure conservation was happening in their neighbors’ rooms. As a last push, DePauw students organized “The Big Turn Off,” an hour-long event that encouraged people to turn off everything in the dorm and congregate in a common area.

Change Behavior to Save Energy

According to de Coriolis, “Everyone who had the opportunity to participate should be commended for their individual enthusiasm and collective action in making the first annual competition a huge success.

"Not only does this prove that behavior change can achieve significant savings, but we’ve taken another significant step toward creating cultures of conservation on campuses,” de Coriolis added.

For more info

To learn more about the competition or join the 2011 competition, visit