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Around the Columns

Energy competition pits dorms against each other

energy

MU student Ben Datema presents the Mizzou Dashboard project during the Missouri Energy Summit. Attention-grabbing flyers announced a student competition. Photo Courtesy Mizzou Dashboard

Several hundred MU students awoke to find alarming notes scattered around Hatch, Schurz and College Avenue residence halls early morning on April 13. The flyers, emblazoned with the words “You Suck (energy),” were attached to doors, light switches and appliances, officially kicking off the first ever Building Dashboard Competition.

The contest pitted the three halls against one another, measuring which building could reduce its energy use the most from April 13–18 compared to the previous two weeks. Building Dashboard’s energy-tracking technology, created by Lucid Design Group, allows students to monitor their hall’s electricity usage in real time online.

Schurz Hall came out on top with a 3.4-percent reduction in electricity use, followed by College Avenue Housing at 3 percent and Hatch at 1.1.
“It was good for a first try,” says sophomore Emily Albertson, president of the student-run sustainability organization, Sustain Mizzou. “It’s something the students weren’t used to seeing every day. It’s really important to show people that the little changes can save so much energy.”

A group of students known as the Ninja Marketing Group distributed the notes, infiltrating the residence halls at 5 a.m. on April 13 wearing black T-shirts. The flyers advertised the contest and drew attention to electricity-hogging appliances.

“We didn’t light candles because that’s against dorm policy,” says freshman College Avenue Hall resident Stephanie Hickman. College Avenue Hall briefly led the contest mid-week until Schurz overtook it. “But we used the light from our cell phones and battery-powered laptops and sat around in the dark. I postponed laundry day, but I try to postpone laundry day every day.”

Ben Datema, the former Sustain Mizzou president who implemented Building Dashboard with a $25,000 grant from the MU Information Technology Committee, is optimistic about the program’s future.

“Our goal was a 15-percent energy usage reduction,” he says. “We still helped to educate nearly 1,400 students about energy conservation. I look forward to trying again next semester with different strategies.”