Allegheny Hall Victorious in Green Gator Competition

By Lindsay Codispot

After two weeks of student efforts to save energy in Allegheny’s dorms, the results of the Green Gator Energy Competition are in.

The big winner is Allegheny Hall, winning both the Watt Chompers and Phantom Chompers categories.

Allegheny Hall reduced its overall electricity consumption by 27 percent from Nov. 16-24 to win the Watt Chompers category. For their success Allegheny Hall residents will enjoy a study day party and a plaque to proudly display in the dorm.

Delta Tau Delta came in second in the Watt Chompers category with a 15 percent reduction in electricity and Ravine Hall came in a close third place at 14 percent reduction.

The Phantom Chompers category measured the reduction in electricity over Thanksgiving break, Nov. 25-29. Obviously, less electricity is expended over breaks because most students leave campus. But the Phantom Chompers category challenged students to unplug items in their rooms to reduce “phantom draw,” the electricity used by items when they are plugged in but not turned on.

Allegheny Hall took initiative in the Phantom Chompers category as well and reduced electricity usage by 75 percent. For winning this category, all residents of Allegheny Hall will be put into a drawing to receive a smart strip, which is like a normal power strip, but better. It recognizes when the items plugged into it are turned off, which allows it to stop phantom draws to that outlet.

Crawford Hall came in second in the Phantom Chompers category with 52 percent reduction and Walker Hall came in third with 50 percent reduction.

So how did Allegheny Hall have such success with reducing energy use?

Sara Hendrickson, ’10, the resident advisor of Allegheny Hall explained the extra effort she made to urge her residents to reduce their electrical use.

“I sent out a lot of emails to my residents,” she said. “Also, I stopped by rooms asking residents to unplug appliances, like cell phone chargers and microwaves that they weren’t currently using.”

Hendrickson discovered that many residents changed their habits.

“A lot of residents began turning their computers off at night and unplugging them. Also, we turned off most of the lights in the building and unplugged the building appliances, like the TV and microwave, when they weren’t being used,” she said.

Heather Balas, ’10, an Allegheny Hall resident worked with Hendrickson by going door-to-door as well as writing personal notes to residents to help promote the energy competition.

“We hung signs reminding residents to take shorter showers, turn down their heat, and to air dry their laundry,” Balas said.

A focus of their efforts was getting residents to switch off lights and turn down thermostats.

“We turned off lights in our rooms, stairways, hallways, and bathrooms when we were not using them,” Balas said. “We also turned down the heat in these areas.”

“I thought the competition would help everyone realize that if we each make small changes in our energy consumption, we can easily become a greener campus,” Balas said.

Sustainability Coordina-tor Kelly Boulton noted the broader impact of the energy competition.

“The most successful part of it is just getting students thinking about it,” she said.

“It’s not just a fun competition,” Boulton added, it’s also about “connecting our thinking to our actual energy use.”

Abby Conroy, ’10, helped coordinate the energy competition as part of her comp.

“The biggest challenge this year was getting the data straight,” Conroy said.

Technological difficulties aside, the competition was a worthwhile experience.

“We learned a lot and that was the biggest thing that I could have hoped for,” Conroy said. “Now we know what direction to take the competition next year.”

Boulton said that the energy competition would become an annual event.

As a community, Allegheny dorms reduced their electricity usage by 18722 kilowatt hours, a six percent reduction over a two week period.

“We will reinvest the money that was saved throughout the competition in energy saving strategies,” Boulton said.

Don’t forget about the raffle drawing. If you received raffle tickets for using reusable bottles at McKinley’s, riding the CATA loop or answering trivia questions, be sure to check out the Green Gator blog at http://sites.allegheny.edu/greengator or join the Green Gator group on Facebook. Both Web sites will continue to provide information about green initiatives, including Recyclemania in the spring.