WCU among top institutions for energy reduction

Members of Western Carolina University’s Office of Sustainability and Energy Management, Department of Residential Living and Student Government Association proudly wear Battle of the Plug T-shirts to raise awareness of WCU’s annual energy conservation competition.

Members of Western Carolina University’s Office of Sustainability and Energy Management, Department of Residential Living and Student Government Association proudly wear Battle of the Plug T-shirts to raise awareness of WCU’s annual energy conservation competition.

Western Carolina University may have lost the head-to-head Battle of the Plug energy savings competition against Appalachian State University but has emerged a winner in the associated Campus Conservation Nationals competition.

WCU and ASU both earned spots on the list of the top 10 schools for energy reduction during the three-week CCN competition that drew participation from more than 100 colleges and universities across the United States and Canada.

During CCN, WCU recorded a 13.7 percent reduction in energy usage, which equates to about $12,000 in energy cost savings. ASU, however, recorded a 17.5 percent energy savings reduction – enough to beat WCU to win the third annual Battle of the Plug competition.

“Even though we lost to App, we are really all winners,” said Lauren Bishop, chief sustainability officer at WCU. “We reached double-digit reductions and this is an impressive accomplishment all of us should be proud of.”

WCU’s Student Government Association, Eco CATS student group, the Office of Sustainability and Energy Management, and the Department of Residential Living collaborated to raise awareness and spark discussion of energy conservation as part of the competition.

Campuswide events included a “Be Ready for the Battle” kick-off and “Whee Do It in the Dark” dance party in which attendees were encouraged to wear white T-shirts and bring glowsticks.

Door hangers and table tents with Battle of the Plug events and energy-saving tips were distributed. Students were encouraged to take actions such as unplugging unused electronics, taking shorter showers and turning off lights.

Funding from SGA supported the purchase of T-shirts, sunglasses and other items to give away at conservation-focused events, and more than 400 WCU students completed energy commitments online in which they personally committed to taking specific actions to save energy.

In WCU’s internal competition, Reynolds Residence Hall emerged as the campus’ 2014 Battle of the Plug Energy Champion with a 35.2 percent reduction in energy usage. Reynolds Residence Hall will receive a plaque that will rotate to the winner of the competition next year as well as cornhole boards made by participants in the Green Opportunities job training program.

“We wanted to pick a sustainability-themed prize for Battle of the Plug to embody our mission completely,” said Bishop.

Campus Conservation Nationals 2014 was organized by Lucid, the Center for Green Schools, the U.S. Green Building Council, the National Wildlife Federation and the Alliance to Save Energy. Institutions participating in CCN collectively saved more than 2.2 million kilowatt-hours of electricity or the equivalent to averting 3 million pounds of carbon dioxide from the atmosphere and $196,000 in energy costs.

For more information, visit CompetetoReduce.org/CCN or buildingdashboard.net/wcu/#/wcu/, or contact Bishop at lbishop@wcu.edu or 828-227-3562.