An energy-saving competition between Boston University residence halls will challenge students to reduce their electricity consumption this semester, BU officials announced Thursday.
“The first energy challenge at Boston University will be a competition against residence halls to see which area can reduce the amount of electricity consumption in the months of September and October,” said Sustainability@BU Outreach Coordinator Lisa Tornatore.
The contest will take place among all major residence halls, Tornatore said. The competition will be judged based on each area’s electricity usage from last September and October.
The decision to hold the competition reflects Sustainability@BU’s challenge for BU students to reduce their collective carbon footprint and energy usage by 10 percent by the time the Class of 2017 graduates, Tornatore said.
“We want to get students involved — and faculty and staff as well — to help further reduce our energy consumption so people are educated when they leave Boston University as to how they can live sustainably,” she said.
Sustainability@BU officials and BU Student Government officials announced the competition Thursday evening when BU’s Center for Student Services at 100 Bay State Road was awarded Gold Certification for Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design.
A glass, round plaque next to the Center for Student Services’ double doors now marks the structure’s newest certificate.
Other spaces on campus that are LEED certified include the Makechnie Study Center at Sargent College of Health and Rehabilitation Sciences, faculty residences at 85 and 87 St. Mary’s St. and a recently renovated brownstone at 122 Bay State Road, Tornature said.
“Sustainability practices are integral to how we build these days,” she said. “All of the projects that are in progress right now [on BU’s campus] — all the large projects — are either conforming to LEED standards or actively seeking LEED certification.”
The energy challenge is intended to make students more cognizant of the energy they are using everyday, said Student Government President Dexter McCoy.
“We [members of SG] were approached by Sustainability@BU, and they wanted to work together to get some sort of awareness on their campaign for trying to reduce our [carbon footprint] by 10 percent by 2017,” McCoy, a College of Communication senior, said. “They also wanted to celebrate the wonderful accomplishment of the LEED certification for 100 Bay State Road.”
SG Director of Environmental Affairs Danielle Elefritz said the challenge will focus on raising climate change awareness amongst students.
“A big role of Student Government this year, particularly the Department of Environmental Affairs, is to acknowledge climate change,” Elefritz, a College of Arts and Sciences and COM junior, said. “… This is our campus’s way of doing something.”
While BU advocates for sustainable living, the energy challenge is a big step for the university in becoming more environmentally friendly, Elefritz said.
“What we really need to work on is energy and reducing our carbon footprint,” she said. “… BU is finally starting to acknowledge that it’s more than just sustainability, it’s all about reducing our geo-footprint and reducing climate change.”
Elefritz said the prize for the winning residence hall or the residence hall to reduce its percentage energy usage from last year the most is yet to be determined.
Additionally, she said she hopes the competition will show students how small changes, such as unplugging a laptop when it is not in use or turning off the lights, can make a big difference.
“A lot of people, in regards to anything environmental including recycling and all of the above, don’t realize that turning off the lights for a half hour while you’re not in the room or while you’re gone really does make an impact,” she said. “Students will realize if they are working on this challenge how much this challenge will reduce our energy intake on campus.”
SG spokesman Saurabh Mahajan said he hopes the competition teaches students sustainable living habits before they leave BU.
“College is a time where, if nothing else, you’re really gaining skills and forming as an individual for your life after college,” Mahajan, a CAS sophomore, said. “Sustainability is one of those things that, in our generation, is not going away. It’s an issue that is going to be very pressing for our generation.”