Green Campus Spotlight: Conserving for the win
Author: Campus Sustainability Office
Posted: April 4, 2013

Between February 18 and March 11, Portland State University students in Broadway, Ondine, and Stephen Epler residence halls competed to reduce electricity and water use as part of Campus Conservation Nationals (CCN). The students collectively wound up saving 23,906 kilowatt hours of electricity (equal to 10,900 pounds of carbon dioxide) and 56,018 gallons of water during the three weeks of competition. This was PSU’s first time entering the three-year-old contest—the nation’s largest electricity and water reduction competition on college and university campuses. 

PSU’s bid in the competition was coordinated by Jennie Sharp, residence life sustainability liaison , and the EcoReps, a student volunteer program in the Sustainability Leadership Center. Noel Mingo, PSU’s utility manager, supported the competition by collecting and analyzing data. Baseline water and electricity usage data were submitted for a 2-week period preceding the competition window, and then weekly electricity and water meter readings were put into an online dashboard provided by CCN for each of the three competition weeks. 

EcoReps hosted events for student residents such as a candlelight dinner in Victor’s dining hall, Blackout Game Night, a Conservation Conversation with tea and snacks, and many others. Partnerships with other student organizations, like Tea with TED and Take Back the Tap, were formed and strengthened as a few of the events were co-hosted with other organizations.

”CCN was a fabulous opportunity for the EcoReps to get out and encourage their community members to reduce their environmental impact, while strengthening their social networks,” said Jennie Sharp. “We all felt like the competition was a huge success and we are excited to join again next year.”

Oregon State University and University of Portland also participated in CCN this year, with reductions in electricity use of 39,209 and 7,000 kwh, respectively. PSU’s reduction of 23,906 kwh in three buildings stands up well against OSU’s 13 buildings in the competition. 

Each campus selects its own three-week period to compete and the nationwide Campus Conservation Nationals wraps up April 26. With several weeks still left in the competition, participating schools have saved a total of more than 1.5 million kilowatt hours.  

The three PSU residence halls were also competing against each other, with Broadway coming in first in the electricity-conservation competition with an 11% reduction. Epler won the water competition with an 18.9% reduction — a result that got a boost when a leak within the building was detected and fixed. 

Want more details? Check out PSU’s dashboard and see the energy-savings results delivered by hardworking EcoReps and their fellow students.