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Eco Madness energy, water conservation competition on campus comes to a close

By Daniel Candella
On November 30, 2012

  • Comedian Dan Ahdoot provided a unique blend of banter, personal experiences and stand-up comedy in the Student Union Theater Thursday. Adhoot was a last minute stand-in for comedian Kyle Grooms.

The month-long energy and water conservation competition known as Eco Madness has come to an end. Among the winners this year were Sprague, Alsop and Whitney.
Sprague remained dominant in the water reduction category since week two, ending up with a 21 percent reduction at the end of the Double or Nothing week. Alsop held onto second place again, closing with 13 percent. As in past years, Whitney finished third and ended with an 11 percent water reduction.
Since its beginning in 2006, there has been several contests offered for the students to get involved in a "sustainable-living" movement.
One such contest is directly designed for each individual student. The dormitory that saved the largest percentage of energy and water on a per person basis, factored in with the building's participation points, was used in determining the winners. As in past years, the winning dorm will receive a free Dairy Bar ice cream party for all the residents, as well as an Energy Offset Certificate.
Katie Kelleher, a 3rd-semester economics major and intern at the Architectural Engineering & Building Services, was the chief organizer for the "Eco-Madness" competition. She said that reducing our energy use is dependent on "the students living on the floors, getting their peers pumped up."
This year's competition was between the residential areas Buckley, Shippee, Northwest, Towers, East and West. Students could raise awareness for their floor by volunteering to be an "Eco-Captain."
The captain's main responsibility was to motivate his or her residence hall in saving energy and water.
There were a total of 143 floors in the six participating dorms. This meant that there could have been a potential of 143 captains. Of the prospective 143 slots, "only four captains volunteered," Kelleher said. That is a two percent participation rate.
Kelleher said a "lack of communication" between the hall directors and the AES Building was responsible for this "low turnout rate." She said she is not deterred by this and that even though the competition officially ended on Oct. 30, "students can actively participate in energy conservation year long."
Alanna Riley, a transfer student from Avery Point, said that there was a "lack of communication" and wishes that the organizers in the ASE Building were more "actively visiting the halls, and it would be nice if someone would come personally talk to us."
In response to the two-percent participation rate for "Eco-Captain," Riley said, "It's kind of sad because there could have been more help for advertising."
She said each student can actively do his or her part by being "consciously aware" of day-to-day routines, like brushing their teeth. She suggested students should turn off the water faucet in between brushes.
Another problem Riley and Ben Young, both residents of Batterson Hall, noticed that "several" residents leave lights, fans, air-conditioners and TVs on on a regular basis.
Jake Parsons, a junior and resident of Batterson Hall, had several concerns and suggestions for his fellow neighbors. He believed students could conserve a considerable amount of water by simply lathering up with soap before turning on the shower and repeating that step, turning on the water only when necessary.
The Eco Madness posters located in the dorms state that a typical shower uses five to 10 gallons per minute and the average student takes a 15-minute shower equaling at least 75 gallons per use. Cutting back to a recommended shower time of just five minutes would increase water conservation by 33 percent.
Kelleher instructed curious students to log onto UConn's Energy Services website for a detailed, daily water-flow chart, which shows the total amount of water used in any particular resident hall. The average daily usage for each hall is approximately 5,800 gallons. "This is how we're able to collect the necessary data to track water and lighting usage in order to determine a winner," Kelleher said.
A concern Parsons had was the hallway lighting and the bathroom lights "are on 24/7."
"It seems wasteful and it's really annoying getting up in the middle of the night to use the bathroom with all those bright lights," he said.
"The hallway lights are left on for safety precautions," said Riley.
"More energy-efficient means of safety could be implemented, such as luminescent strips along the walls or motion detectors," said Parsons.
During the month of energy conservation awareness, Eco-Husky, organized projects and events in coordination with the Office of Environmental Policy, including this competition, took place. The Office of Environmental Policy has several recommendations for students on campus.
They said that using less water means reducing the negative impacts on the environment. UConn's water consumption has previously led to the drying-up of part of the Fenton River.
They would therefore like to see students using less power by shutting off their lights and switching from incandescent light bulbs to compact fluorescent lights. They said that CFLs last up to 10 times longer than incandescent lights and use less energy.
The office also warned of the "phantom load." This is power being used when appliances, such as TVs, phone chargers and computers, are switched off but still drain power. They say the only way to avoid this is by unplugging the appliance.
Out of the four captains, three resided in West campus. With points being awarded to each hall for captain-participation, Kelleher said, "it wasn't looking too good for the rest."

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