Last spring, Johnson C. Smith University took a major step toward creating a campus culture of sustainability when it organized a competition among residence halls. The Office of Residence Life partnered with Facilities and Technical Services to launch a “Power Down” energy conservation campaign and competition among eight residence halls. The competition was designed to create activities that raise energy awareness and show how saving energy saves money. Specifically, the competition helped measure how much energy is used and the extent that energy reduction impacts the University’s utility budget.
Students were first encouraged to bring regular light bulbs to their residence hall lobby in exchange for compact florescent energy-efficient bulbs. Staff were on hand to distribute information about how to conserve energy by using the new bulbs.
The competition measured the amount of electricity and natural gas used in each hall over a specific time period. To measure these utilities, each hall was submetered and documented electronically at the beginning and end of the competition period. The readings identified daily and weekly usage by residence hall and took into consideration the total square footage of the building to maintain consistency and equity between the buildings.
Carter Hall residents were the most conscientious in their efforts to conserve energy by powering down appliances when not in use.
Another aspect of the competition involved a “Sustain a Bull” banner/poster contest. Residents of each hall competed for the best design of a banner displaying unique and creative ideas to help conserve energy, water and reduce waste on campus.
Other planned activities centered on Earth Day 2012 events where students talked about environmental awareness and conservation. During the day, the University’s provider of laundry machines shared tips on water usage and encouraged students to pledge to incorporate green techniques into their laundry routines.
The Office of Residence Life is currently working on a campuswide sustainability pledge to further raise the level of awareness. Students, faculty and staff have been encouraged to go online and make a pledge to display a moral conscientiousness, an ethical desire to live more sustainably and reduce their carbon footprints.