During Penn’s 2012 Power Down Challenge, held Oct. 31 through Nov. 18, the University community saved enough energy to power 162 average homes in the region for the 19 days of the contest. This united effort kept 97,578 pounds of carbon dioxide out of the atmosphere and saved energy equivalent to 4,962 gallons of gasoline.
It's a glimpse into the big changes a concerted effort can achieve.
The Power Down Challenge is held annually to raise awareness about the need for energy conservation and to encourage members of the campus community to adopt environmentally sustainable practices.
The competition included two divisions: All College Houses competed against each other, and 11 self-selected campus office and classroom buildings squared off to see who could conserve the most energy. Readings of electrical use were taken at participating buildings over a two-week period in early October to establish the competition baseline.
“The student Eco-Reps in the residence halls, and the faculty and staff Eco-Reps in academic and administrative buildings rallied their constituents with emails, posters, and flyers to promote conservation,” says Dan Garofalo, environmental sustainability coordinator at Penn. “Also, new this year was an online ‘building dashboard’ that enabled participants to track their progress, communicate with peers, and make personal commitments to sustainable behavior.”
In the end, residents of Stouffer College House (Stouffer and Mayer Halls) and staff and students in the Jaffe History of Art Building saved the most energy.
With an energy reduction of 14.5 percent, Stouffer finished ahead of second-place Gregory College House, which achieved a 10.2 percent savings rate. The Quad, the 2011 College House champion, came in at third-place with a 5.5 percent savings rate.
Staff, faculty, and students in the Jaffe Building dropped their energy usage 21.6 percent during the competition period, nearly twice as much as those in second-place Steinhardt Hall, who saved 12.6 percent, and third-place Huntsman Hall, which achieved a 7.4 percent energy reduction.
Employees in the Franklin Building, last year’s Campus Building winner, expanded their energy-savings programs from 2011 and reduced electrical usage an additional 2.8 percent this year, showing that their conservation behaviors held over from last year.
The competition also acknowledged the buildings that saved the most total electricity during the competition. With a decrease of 7,603 kilowatt hours in energy use, Stouffer College House had the largest reduction among College Houses, and Huntsman Hall conserved the most power among campus buildings by saving 35,558 kWh over the course of the competition.
For information on all the participants, go to the Power Down Challenge dashboard.