WKU to participate in national conservation competition

Jacob Parker

WKU is competing against other colleges to reduce its energy use and water consumption as part of Campus Conservation Nationals.

Each university determines a starting point of how much energy it currently uses. From that starting point, the school that reduces its energy consumption the most is the winner.

The winner will be announced on April 26, which coincides with the campus Earth Day Festival.

WKU has created an online dashboard that tracks campus energy use to not only more effectively measure energy usage, but to provide a friendly competition between residence halls.

The dashboard displays campus energy use as well as other features, such as how many greenhouse gases were released, how much money was saved by reducing use and tips on how to better conserve energy.

Christian Ryan-Downing, Office of Sustainability coordinator, said that the dashboard has put WKU ahead.

“We’re ahead of the game when it comes to our energy infrastructure and technology,” she said. “We’re a model. We’re doing things that other schools are aspiring to do.”

Ryan-Downing said the dashboard was also created so students could actually see how their contribution helps.

“If they wanted to go through their residence hall and turn off every light, they could probably see a drop in their usage almost instantly,” Ryan-Downing said. “This gives us an advantage because some universities are going to building to building checking it.”

The Office of Sustainability has set up several events, including film showings and a scavenger hunt throughout the semester to raise awareness across campus about conservation.

Georgetown senior Mary Boothe is sponsoring one of these events.

“My event is the open mic event, and it’s kind of reaching out to some of the majors that aren’t always necessarily included with environmental studies, like with humanities,” she said. “We’re asking students to come up with a short story or a poem, that basically fits in to the energy theme.”

Owensboro senior Mary Newton is sponsoring the scavenger hunt that coincides with Earth Hour, which is a worldwide movement where people are encouraged to turn off their lights for one hour, from 8:30 p.m. to 9:30 p.m. on March 23.

“We’re trying to keep it fun for people with events that we think they’ll enjoy,” she said.

Boothe said that participation and getting people to care have been the most difficult parts.

“You’re trying to send a message that not everyone cares about, not everyone understands the scope of it. Part of it is kind of teaching people about the issue, and the other part is trying to get them to come out, which is a whole different ballgame,” she said.

Ryan-Downing said it takes everyone to make a change.

“What we’re asking people to do is really easy, so it’s not even as if it was a difficult challenge. It just takes everybody doing their part,” she said.