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Biddle, Fenzel and James dominate Residence Challenge 2011

The seven-week race to reduce electricity consumption in Ohio University’s residence halls concluded Tuesday, with winning halls averting more than 11 tons of carbon dioxide emissions.

In its eleventh year, Residence Challenge focused on the compact fluorescent light bulb (CFL) and its growing popularity over the incandescent bulb. A total of 252 CFLs were exchanged over the course of competition.

This year’s challenge also included eight residence hall programs – the highest number of programs in Residence Challenge history.

Top honors went to:

  • East Green’s Biddle Hall
  • South Green’s Fenzel Hall
  • West Green’s James Hall


As a reward for posting the greatest energy savings within their respective greens, Biddle, Fenzel and James residents will receive all-expense paid trips to Cedar Point on May 28. In addition, Bryan Hall will be awarded a quesadilla fiesta party for improving electricity savings by the highest percentage – 7.4 percent – in the final week of competition.
For complete competition results, visit

New to this year’s challenge was a change in baseline method— whereby halls compete against an average of the hall’s electricity usage during the two weeks preceding the competition. In years past, baselines were created for each hall using average electricity usage from the past three years.

The change, according to Interim Sustainability Coordinator Erin Sykes, took the competition to the next level.  Only 12 of 38 halls were able to accrue positive cumulative energy savings during the competition.  Last year, 38 of 42 halls accrued positive savings.

“Many halls didn’t look as good as they did in years past because residents were competing against themselves. They couldn’t take advantage of previous residents’ less efficient appliances or conservation behavior,” Sykes said. “Students today are generally much more energy conscious than students of the past.  A CFL is a new concept to less and less students each year, which is a good sign.”

Collectively, halls did not increase their own electricity savings, but they did outdo past residents.  

Despite having 68 additional residents, all halls on campus used 148,301-kilowatt hours (kWh) less than in 2010, resulting in a savings of 163 tons of carbon dioxide. That is comparable to the amount of carbon sequestered annually by 31.5 acres of pine forest.

Additionally, all halls combined used 6.6 percent less electricity during the challenge than in 2010. OHIO’s 38 halls currently house 7,077 occupants.

More about the winners:

Biddle Hall

Biddle’s consistently high electricity savings throughout the competition makes their victory well-deserved. To surpass the competition, Biddle used little to no light in the halls, bathrooms and lounge areas. They were intentional about unplugging computers, cell phones and gaming systems when not in use.

Going above and beyond, a large number of the ladies in Biddle let their hair air dry. If they used blow dryers, residents often shared them, drying two heads at once.

Through the combined electricity savings from these practices, Biddle residents saved a cumulative of 6.3 tons of carbon dioxide. For their efforts, Biddle has been awarded 63 tickets to Cedar Point.

Fenzel Hall

Fenzel outperformed all residence halls on South Green to take the top spot. The Administrative Resident Assistant e-mailed residents weekly with energy saving tips, encouraging Earth-friendly practices in the hall.

The residents worked to win the competition by studying as a group, so they could turn the lights off in their rooms. Their dedication paid off, as they were able to save 2.1 tons of carbon dioxide with a cumulative energy savings of 6.3 percent, earning 21 tickets to Cedar Point.

James Hall

James dominated West Green, and their hold on first place was never seriously threatened. The hall’s cumulative savings of 3.7 percent saved 2.8 tons of carbon dioxide. During the competition, residents were urged to reduce their use of energy intense appliances, such as micro fridge units, AC units and computers.

As winners, 28 lucky James residents will be rewarded with free tickets to Cedar Point.