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Annual contest creates conservation incentive

September 25, 2009

UW-River Falls residence halls will once again compete in an annual energy conservation contest in efforts to reduce consumption of electricity, water and steam in each hall.

“For each category, the hall with the great- est reduction is awarded a $250 prize, for which the hall can use as they see fit,” Kristie Feist, assistant director of community development and education department of Residence Life, said in an e-mail interview.

Some halls have used these prizes in the past for a hall catered banquet or to purchase equipment like a Nintendo Wii for the hall residents to check out, according to Feist.

“I feel like energy usage and the control of it is more of a habit or life style, either you do it without realizing it, or you don’t,” Alyse Good, Crabtree resident and former resident assistant (RA), said. “To be honest, I pay less attention to the contest as a resident than when I was an RA. The contest itself is not that extremely important to me even though sav- ing energy is. [I do] simple things such as shutting off lights and appliances that aren’t needed [and] being conscious of how long my shower is.”

The contest began in the spring of 2006 and continues to be effective.

“Total electrical savings [of last year’s contest] for all ten residence halls equaled almost 9 percent,” Feist said. “Four halls were able to reduce their steam use and five were able to reduce their water usage.”

Students can control their consumption by using natural light instead of room lights, shutting down computers, taking shorter showers and filling the washer when they do laundry, Feist said.

“I’m not a leave-the-lights-on kind of girl and I don’t take long showers,” Amanda Kogle, a South Fork Suites resident, said. “[My roommates and I] recycle anything we can and I keep my windows and blinds closed during the winter because I feel the windows leak a lot of the heat.”

The contest will run from September through March.

“We are going to try to do some creative marketing in the halls to kick off the program and also to highlight the campus sustainability day on October 21,” Feist said.

UWRF is also taking sustainability initiative by making other changes to improve energy efficiency in the halls.

“We try to update facilities each year and do a little in every building to help make fixtures more efficient,” Feist said. “We have installed [water-saving] shower valves in Prucha Hall and are still determining if that is a cost-effective program.”

Two years ago, the Residential Living Committee and Student Senate voted to increase the cost to live in the residence halls to help cover the additional cost of purchasing green blocks of energy.

Green energy blocks are generated from non-carbon-based renewable sources such as wind, hydro, solar and biomass. Green energy helps to improve the environment by reducing pollution and consumption of non-renewable resources.

“Personally [being conservative of my energy consumption] is all part of my upbringing,” Kogle said. “It’s part of being responsible.”