Positive peer pressure and pizza were apparently what helped interns from the Alliance to Save Energy‘s Green Campus Program motivate college students to save energy during the Campus Conservation Nationals, a a nationwide competition between college and university residence halls.
The inaugural competition, sponsored by Lucid Design Group, lasted for three weeks in November 2010. During this time, a number of residence halls competed against one another for the title of greenest dorm, and for the title of greenest school (taken, this year by DePauw University). Among them were six Green Campus schools in California – Cal Poly Pomona, Humboldt State University, San Diego State University, UC Irvine, UC Santa Cruz and UC San Diego – which, all told, managed to save their schools $485,000 in utility bills.
According to the Alliance to Save Energy, interns at UC San Diego met with Residential Advisers in dorms that would be participating in the challenge months in advance in order to build support; after the challenge, winning dorms were rewarded with pizza or ice cream parties. At Cal Poly Pomona, an online pledge got students to publicly commit to energy-saving behaviors during and after the competition. And at UC Berkeley, interns actually started teaching a class called “Energy DeCal” during a teacher furlough period that has now become a regular course offering.
All of which is aimed at educating college students – particularly incoming freshman – about the big effects that simple habits such as using a power strip, turning off lights and taking the stairs (rather than riding the elevator) can on have on the environment.