College campuses often compete to be the most athletic, artistic, or knowledgeable; however, the University of Arkansas recently competed to reduce electrical usage & emissions in residence halls. We competed to make our campus greener and the world a better place.
Before the competition kicked off, we received some feedback about our goals. There was an issue with student apathy. Residents in the halls regularly practiced wasteful habits because they “…don’t pay the bill.” I asked myself, “How in the world can I convince these freshman students to change their practices when I have nothing to offer them in exchange?”
I set out with a mission: to create cultural and behavioral change at the University campus. Our spirits were down; the school lacked the infrastructure that other successful campuses had. UA had no sustainability representatives in residence halls, no previous energy conservation campaign in place, no easy way to climb the administrative chain, and no master messaging system for all students. It seemed like an impossible task.
I heavily recruited and came up with an awesome team of passionate residents to help from within the residence halls. They spread the word about the competition and educated residents about the impact they could have by learning a few good habits. The leadership team chalked, wrote blogs, spread the word through social media, and even held events in their respective halls. Through direct outreach and education, we managed to reduce a total of $6,205, which equates to 113,463 pounds of CO2. Everyone was involved with our efforts for a successful competition. Over 150 residents committed to at least one conservation behavior to achieve an overall decline in electrical usage.
I’m hoping that these students realized how easy it is to conserve energy. All it takes is being mindful of your surroundings and actions. 18 halls were involved in the competition, which is approximately 4,750 students. That’s 24 pounds of CO2 emissions per student avoided in only 3 weeks. Imagine what could be saved if they continued the good habits throughout the rest of their lives. That would be tremendous avoided costs and CO2 emissions. The possibilities of benefits are endless.
It was the University’s first time to participate in Campus Conservation Nationals, but not the last. The more we participate, the more popular the competition will become on campus, and (hopefully) the better the results! The whole Campus Conservation Nationals 2013 competition reduced over 2,100,000 pounds of carbon dioxide since February 4, 2013. There were 1444 participants joining for a good cause. Imagine the possibilities.
Mallory is serving at the University of Arkansas Office for Sustainability. Born and raised in North Alabama, she graduated from Auburn University in Environmental Design with a Sustainability minor. She is an artist and musician passionate about the environment and people. Mallory recently received her LEED GA accreditation and will be participating in Campus Conservation Nationals and RecycleMania. Her main duties will be educating about energy usage and conservation, including conducting energy audits at the fraternity and sorority houses.