Editor's Picks

Campus Life

'How far can IU citizens decrease their resource consumption?'

Oct. 3, 2013

Students, faculty and staff across the IU Bloomington campus will participate this semester in the ninth IU Energy Challenge to conserve electricity and water. 

The Fall 2013 Energy Challenge takes place Oct. 7 to Nov. 4 and will involve 16 academic and administrative buildings along with 17 residential buildings and 14 Greek houses.

For the first time, the four-week competition will use individual baselines coupled with weatherized data for each participating building to more accurately and fairly compare conservation efforts across campus. 

Former IU Office of Sustainability interns Haley Long and Hayley Prihoda prepare Greenest Floor Challenge posters to be hung in the residential halls.

Former IU Office of Sustainability interns Haley Long and Hayley Prihoda prepare Greenest Floor Challenge posters to be hung in the residential halls.

Shahzeen Attari, a professor in the IU School of Public and Environmental Affairs whose research focuses on human behavior and energy consumption, encouraged participants to use the Energy Challenge to examine their own motivations and capabilities.

"How far can IU citizens decrease their resource consumption without significantly impacting the quality of their life? Herein lies the challenge before us,” she said.

'Can we govern ourselves?'

“Independent of any top-down regulation, can we govern ourselves to use less water and energy and still be content? The energy challenge is designed to inform and motivate. Doing what you can is the first step. Let's see how far we can take it." 

Previous challenges have shown that focusing on seemingly effortless behaviors, such as dimming computer screens, turning off lights when leaving a room and fixing leaky faucets, can conserve a substantial amount of energy. To date, IU Bloomington savings from the campus-wide Energy Challenge have amounted to approximately 4 million kilowatt hours of electricity and 10 million gallons of water, saving the university more than $1.3 million. 

IU's Physical Plant hopes to use its new electricity dashboard to provide more frequent and consistent feedback to participants throughout the competition.

Competitors will be divided into categories by Residential Programs and Services neighborhoods, and administrative, classroom and lab buildings. First-place winners in each category will have water bottle refill stations installed in their buildings. 

Greenest Floor Challenge

During the Energy Challenge, students living in residential halls have the unique opportunity to participate in the second annual Greenest Floor Challenge, which involves getting dorm rooms green-certified. The floors with the most certifications in each residential hall will be declared Greenest Floor Challenge winners. 

The Green Room Certification Program was designed by IU Office of Sustainability interns, in partnership with Residential Programs and Services, to provide students living in the residence halls an individual or room-by-room framework for reducing their energy and resource consumption, building community and reinforcing sustainability-driven values through personal actions and engaging in curricular and co-curricular sustainability programming.

“For many of our students, Indiana University provides the first independent living experience of their lives," said Bill Brown, IU's director of sustainability.

"This program provides an opportunity for informed residents to model positive sustainability behaviors for their fellow students, reducing their individual and collective environmental impact."

Results will be posted on the IU Energy Challenge website, which also features tips on how to conserve energy. To become involved in planning or organizing competition events, visit the "get involved" page or contact the appropriate building captain. 

View a video on the motivation for IU's Energy Challenge.

Read more Campus Life stories »