WKU dorms compete to conserve energy

Trey Crumbie

WKU will once again engage in an energy conservation contest with other colleges and universities.

Campus Conservation Nationals (CCN) is one of the largest electricity and water reduction competition programs for colleges and universities in the world. This year, 156 universities and colleges in the United States and Canada — including the University of Louisville and University of Kentucky — registered to participate. This is WKU’s second year competing.

David Baskett, coordinator for facilities, said WKU takes great interest in the national competition.

“It’s just a national competition that we as a university are invested in so we just participate in it,” Baskett said. 

Sustainability Coordinator Christian Ryan-Downing said the competition can be very competitive. 

“Some of these schools go all-out to try to win this thing,” Ryan-Downing said.

The competition started Feb. 3 and will end April 25; however, participants only need to take part for three weeks.

WKU’s three-week period began Feb. 9 and will conclude March 2. Ryan-Downing said the reason those three weeks were chosen in particular was because it would be unfair for a portion of the competition to be held during spring break.

“If everybody is gone for spring break then we’re not using any energy and that’s kind of like cheating,” Ryan-Downing said.

The sustainability coordinator said the competition isn’t a direct one per se, but is instead a contest to see how much a campus can reduce its regular energy consumption. 

“It’s all about percent reduction,” she said.

This competition setup stems from a disparity in energy capabilities across campuses — some colleges or universities have gone to considerable lengths to upgrade their buildings to conserve energy output.

“It’s not really fair for us to compete with schools that have super, super high efficient buildings if we don’t,” Ryan-Downing said.

The sustainability coordinator also said she has taken note of the dorms’ energy usage two weeks prior to the competition and will compare them with how much energy the dorms use during the three-week competition period to determine how much energy WKU saved.

Ryan-Downing said there is a contest for water and electrical usage reduction, but because some dorms do not have meters that track water usage, WKU can only participate in the electrical reduction portion.

The two grand prizes for CCN are building dashboards that measure electricity or water consumption.

Ryan-Downing said there are many ways to reduce electrical usage such as plugging appliances into a single power strip and then turning off the strip when it’s no longer in use.

“It’s so simple,” Ryan-Downing said. “Turn off and unplug anything that draws electricity.”

In addition to the international competition, WKU is also competing against the University of Kentucky, University of Louisville and Berea College in a regional competition called Bluegrass Unplugged. The winner of Bluegrass Unplugged will receive a trophy in the shape of a compact florescent light bulb.

WKU won the competition last year.

“We’re going to keep that trophy,” Ryan-Downing said.