Students compete to reduce energy, water use

TriTowers-Energy-Challenge-Final-StandingsDuring April two NC State students challenged their peers in the Bowen, Carroll and Metcalf residence halls to reduce their energy and water consumption. The awareness campaign encouraged residents of the three similar buildings, known as the Tri-Towers, to become more sustainable while engaging in friendly competition.

“Seeing the improvements that every hall made during the month was awesome,” said the Tri-Towers Energy and Water Challenge co-organizer Brian Iezzi, a junior Textile Engineering major. “Every hall made progress and this goes to show that students want to change their behavior to promote a more sustainable lifestyle.”

After four weeks of competition, Metcalf Hall residents reduced their energy use by 31 percent and their water use by 24 percent. Carroll Hall residents finished second in the competition with a 24 percent energy reduction and 9 percent water reduction. Bowen Hall residents also reduced their overall energy use by 19 percent and their water use by 28 percent.

“NC State took a $1.58 million cut to its campus utility budget this year,” said Challenge co-organizer Ryan Kilgore, a sophomore Engineering major. “The challenge was a great way to conserve energy and water usage, thereby saving the university money.”

To help motivate residents and boost participation in the challenge, Metcalf Hall resident advisor Megan Brown, a senior History major, created quarter-sheet flyers for each suite with tips on how to save energy and water. “Residents also reminded each other to switch off lounge and laundry room lights when they left the room — something that hadn’t happened before,” said Lisa Latronica, Metcalf Hall Residence Director.

Latronica also encouraged resident advisors and other staff members to set good examples and talk to their residents personally about the small impacts they could make in their building. She also participated in the challenge by limiting her use of office lights. “When residents asked me why I was in the office without lights on, I would talk to them about the Energy Challenge and using natural light and windows instead of electricity,” she said.

“It was very encouraging that the students were willing to plan, execute and see the challenge through,” said Sean Fokes, Campus Life Energy Coordinator.

Since Metcalf Hall residents won the challenge by reducing their energy and water consumption the most, they celebrated with a fajita bar night catered by Moe’s Southwest Grill. “The challenge was a fantastic way to end the year on a high note,” Latronica said. “I think the residents were really impressed with the fact that they reduced their energy by a third and we had the lowest energy usage per person, even as the tallest Tri-Tower [building]. It really brought the community together!”

Besides turning off lights and unplugging appliances or electronics not in use, the easiest way for residents to continue saving energy is to turn their thermostat up in the summer and down in the winter. “The biggest bang for the buck is the thermostat,” Fokes said. “I’d also suggest keeping stairwell doors closed as much as possible since the outside air infiltration is the single biggest load on the HVAC system.”

As part of the summer renovation schedule, the Tri-Towers will also receive new HVAC controls to help reduce overall energy consumption. The new controls enable University Housing to better control the indoor air quality of the buildings and save more energy.

-Story courtesy of University Housing