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Mountainview wins first energy conservation contest

Saving money on energy was only one goal of the recent Energy Conservation Contest sponsored by the University, NYPIRG and the Student Association. Organizers said the contest among residential communities had a more important objective: to create awareness and change behavior.

Mountainview College, which saved the most energy each week of the contest, was the overall winner, saving more than 11 percent in energy use per student over the five-week period. Each community’s energy use was compared to its own energy consumption from the previous year.

Mountainview won a Jared Campbell concert for being in the lead at the mid-point of the contest. The grand prize will be announced at a news conference at 1 p.m. Thursday, April 27, in the Appalachian Collegiate Center.

F. Christopher Zeller, president of the Mountainview College Council, thinks the contest was a great idea, and not just because his community won the grand prize. “Not only did it save the University money, but the emissions that were not released into the environment were staggering,” he said.

Maureen Gundlach, a senior mechanical engineering major, crunched the numbers for the contest. The annual equivalent savings for the contest amounts to more than $88,000, but the savings to the atmosphere were substantial, she said. About 350,000 pounds of carbon dioxide was not released into the atmosphere due to the actions of students across campus trying to conserve energy. That amounts to about 40 pounds per student, per week, according to Peter Carney, the University’s utility manager. “About 40 percent of what goes into the atmosphere will still be around 100 years from now,” Carney said, so any savings is benefi- cial.

“Less carbon dioxide, nitrogen oxide and sulfur dioxide ended up in the atmosphere as a result of students conserving during the contest,” Gundlach said. Such a savings translates into less acid rain, less smog and fewer particulates in the air.

But will the contest have a lasting effect? Zeller believes so. “I, for one, am much more energy- conscious,” he said. “During the contest, my roommate and I got into the habit of shutting the TV, computer monitor and lights off whenever we left our room. The habit seems to have stuck and I find myself continuing to do this.”

The first step to improving a problem is identifying it, Gundlach said. Educating students about their energy usage may lead to them using less energy in the future.

“I hope that this contest gave students an opportunity to evaluate their personal habits regarding energy usage,” she said. “Each of us can make small changes that will add up to big environmental savings campus-wide.”
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Last Updated: 10/14/08