Conservation-themed Reduce Your Use returns for fifth year

Michael McKay

Students can earn the chance to share a scoop of ice cream with President Gary Ransdell if their dorm can reduce their energy usage.

The fifth Reduce Your Use competition kicked off Monday and will continue until the end of the month.

The competition will compare energy usage in dorms from October 2010 to October 2011. The dorm with the largest total reduction from the previous year at the end of the month will be the winner.

Peggy Crowe, assistant director for Housing and Residence Life, said the goal of Reduce Your Use is to get students thinking about conservation.

“We want students to participate and understand that they are part of a much bigger place than where they are living,” Crowe said.

Students will be able to track their dorm’s energy usage through the Building Dashboard on WKU’s website. The dashboard shows energy usage in all 16 dorms as well as 18 other buildings on campus. The site is updated in real time.

Christian Ryan-Downing, sustainability coordinator for WKU, said the sustainability department is working on getting all of the buildings on campus on the dashboard.

“Next year, Reduce Your Use might be campus-wide,” Ryan-Downing said. “Let’s put the administrators against each other.”

Another contest during Reduce Your Use allows the resident assistants to do their part to help with conservation efforts. The RAs will make special bulletin boards for Sustainability Month made of recycled materials. The winning RA will earn offset points toward their dorm’s total energy usage.

Ryan-Downing said students could also earn offset points for their dorms by attending special events during the month.

“We try to get lots of partners on campus to participate,” Ryan-Downing said. “They aren’t all geared toward energy conservation but certainly deal with sustainability.”

Ryan-Downing said she hopes attending the events will help students gain new habits about conservation.

“We don’t want it just to be about turning off lights and unplugging things,” she said. “We also wanted to have an educational aspect of Reduce Your Use.”

The winning dorm and bulletin board will be announced on at 4:30 p.m. on Nov. 3. The winning dorm will have a small ceremony and ice cream with Ransdell.

Crowe said the ideas of the competition are important to follow year-round.

“We have a responsibility to reduce our use, just like the title said,” Crowe said.