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New residence halls compete in ENERGY STAR® 2016 National Building Competition

Ohio University considers energy conservation a top priority. The University’s dedication to energy conservation is the product of campus-wide goals to improve University sustainability, save money, reduce carbon emissions and improve the comfort of building occupants.

From Sept. 1 through Nov. 30, 2016, Ohio University’s most recent energy conservation initiative took place, enrolling the Athens Campus’ four newest residence halls in the ENERGY STAR ® 2016 National Building Competition. Competitors took weekly measurements of energy usage for heating, cooling, and electricity; the winners were the buildings that saw the greatest reductions in energy usage compared to the same timeframe in 2015. 

Enrollment in the competition was a big step in engaging the campus community in working toward Ohio University’s energy conservation goals. OHIO had not competed in a national energy competition for several years as the institution worked to improve building-specific energy data collection processes, particularly building-level metering of heating and cooling. The hiring of several key new employees within Facilities Management and Safety, along with the financial investment from Housing and Residence Life for the meters, has allowed the University to improve metering and control systems, providing accurate readings for newer and newly renovated buildings on campus. 

“The development of data tracking mechanisms was an integral step in creating an accurate and honest energy reduction competition,” said Annie Laurie Cadmus, director of sustainability. “Once that was in place, we were able to develop programming and education to help encourage students and staff to be more aware of their energy and water consumption.”

While the competition was, technically, a national competition among 200 institutions of higher education, Ohio University chose to also host a “Battle of the Buildings” competition between the four residence halls to make it a more exciting experience for residents. The results of that competition showed that all four residence halls - Carr, Luchs, Sowle and Tanaka - reduced their energy consumption over the three-month period as compared to the same period in 2015. Sowle Hall was the overall winner, with a 3 percent reduction in energy consumption. Tanaka Hall was the electricity reduction winner, with a 7.2 percent reduction as compared to 2015. Weekly building winners were also announced and are shown in the graph below. 

Energy graph

Vicky Kent, sustainable living coordinator graduate assistant at the Office of Sustainability and a first year graduate student in the Recreation and Sports Pedagogy master’s program, took a leadership role in providing educational and event programming related to energy and water conservation for the residence halls before, during, and after the building competition. 

The final event and celebration of competition winners was held during finals week. A Relaxation Station was created in the Living Learning Center as a thank you to all residents for their efforts to reduce energy conservation. At the Relaxation Station, students could view the results of the competition and engage in activities intended to reduce stress during finals week. Key activities of the event were free massages and an “Eat, Drink and Be Merry” nutrition presentation, both provided by Wellworks. Also available were tea, adult coloring books, a positive message board and positive affirmation activities from the Women’s Center. 

Upon learning of the results of this competition, Pete Trentacoste, executive director of housing & residence life, praised the students’ efforts, saying, “The reduction is truly a testament to our students and their commitment to sustainability.”

“Everyone involved in the project should be proud of their efforts. Because the new residence halls are designed to reduce energy consumption, the efforts of our students, faculty and staff should be highly commended for their results. Achieving a reduction in energy consumption so quickly in such new buildings is no small feat,” said Claire Naisby, building systems integration manager.

The Office of Sustainability also expressed its praise of campus constituents for making the competition possible – and successful. 

“We’re especially impressed by Facilities Management and Safety for their efforts to sub-meter our campus buildings,” said Cadmus. “Their hard work is allowing for proper education of and more involvement from our entire campus in regards to resource conservation.”

Results of the National Building Competition will be announced in April 2017, after raw energy consumption data from the 200 competitors is normalized for weather by ENERGY STAR.

This article was provided by Ohio University's Office of Sustainability.

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The Ohio University Office of Sustainability is dedicated to supporting sustainable behaviors, programs and policies within Ohio University by ensuring the University’s actions are inclusive of the triple bottom line: people, planet and prosperity. To learn about various sustainable efforts that departments and other groups are exploring at OHIO, please check out Sustainable Ohio University Leaders (SOUL) or enroll in ES4832/5832: Sustainability Implementation. More information can be found at www.ohio.edu/sustainability or by calling (740) 593-0460.