Skidmore College recently competed in Campus Conservation Nationals (CCN), the largest nationwide electricity and water use reduction competition among colleges and universities. The competition was created by The Center for Green Schools at the U.S. Green Building Council and is carried out in partnership with Lucid, Alliance to Save Energy, and the National Wildlife Federation. Skidmore students in each of the eight residence halls competed for three weeks, February 11 to March 4, to achieve the greatest reduction in electricity usage.
This is now the fourth year that Skidmore participated in the national competition, and is proud to announce the 2013 winner – Wilmarth Hall! Students in Wilmarth made a number of behavior changes in order to lead a more energy conscious lifestyle, such as unplugging unused appliances to eliminate phantom loads, turning off lights in unoccupied areas, sharing a communal refrigerator instead of a personal mini fridge, and more. These efforts resulted in an 8.7% decrease in electricity use during the three weeks compared to a baseline level collected prior to the competition.
While Wilmarth took the lead in the competition, four other residence halls also decreased their electricity use during the three weeks and collectively saved 5,166 kWh, which is approximately enough energy to power a 60W light bulb for 148 days! These savings put Skidmore College in fourth place in the New York NegaWatt challenge with a 2.6% decrease in electricity use. The NegaWatt challenge is a competition between the New York Six, which are six schools located in upstate New York that have similar student demographics (Hobart & William Smith Colleges, Hamilton College, St. Lawrence University, Union College, and Colgate University). Hamilton College, Hobart & William Smith Colleges, and St. Lawrence came in ahead of Skidmore in this competition.
The savings made during the competition show that leading an energy conscious lifestyle can make a difference, even during a short period of time. A large part of the success of the Skidmore Unplugged competition is due to the ten Sustainability Representatives (S-Reps) living in the residence halls and the two student managers of the program. These students helped increase awareness of the competition by hosting activities in their halls, tabling in the Dining Hall, creating bulletin boards, and serving as a resource to residents by highlighting different ways to reduce electricity use in the halls.
The Sustainable Skidmore Office also joined forces with several students groups and offices on campus to host events that would showcase how sustainability can be integrated across disciplines. Several partnerships allowed Skidmore Unplugged to be successful by expanding the types of events and awareness that was offered. Sustainable Skidmore had partnerships with the Office of Health Promotions, the Office of Religious and Spiritual Life, and Lively Lucy’s. Two of the many events that were held were a walking meditation in a labyrinth to help encourage unplugging from electronics and re-plugging into more grounding exercises and a Lively Lucy’s unplugged event with live acoustic performances and lighting powered by Sustainable Skidmore’s solar cart.