Nonprofit challenges D.C. colleges to conserve

Correction appended

Mitchell Hall is leading the pack in the University-wide Eco-Challenge, a green competition in which residence halls battle to reduce energy and water consumption.

The residence hall has so far recorded a combined decrease in energy and water consumption of 33 percent from last year.

November marks the semester mid-point of the Eco-Challenge, an annual sustainability competition, and the beginning of its newest component: a month-long energy-reduction challenge against other District universities.

Fulbright Hall has the greatest reduction in electricity usage, while West End residence hall has the greatest reduction in water consumption halfway through the competition’s first semester.

When the multi-school competition launches this week, the Alliance to Save Energy will measure the total November energy consumption for GW, American and Howard universities and compare that to the totals from last year. The school to reduce the most overall energy consumption will win.

Eco-reps have been participating in trainings run by the Alliance to Save Energy since September to prepare for the upcoming multi-school competition.

“Eco-Reps are making a mark around campus and their presence is being felt,” Sophie Waskow, sustainability project facilitator for the Office of Sustainability, said.

At American, students have signed five-step pledges to save energy and are participating in a “Do It In the Dark” campaign.

“Being able to show students their energy usage, make them really aware of it and improve it with the fun of the competition is something we are really excited about,” Joshua Kaplan, sustainability outreach specialist for American, said.

Nyekah Washington, a student at Howard University, is promoting the competition to students by reminding them that increasing sustainability will save their university money, which will in turn save the students’ money.

Howard’s Green Team will be educating students about sustainable practices during the competition.

“Winning is second to being energy conscious,” Alfonzye Chisholm, director of capital planning and sustainability at Howard University, said.

Last November, residence halls competing in GW’s Eco-Challenge used 1,440,082 kilo-watt hours of electricity.

“Decreasing plug-loads, unplugging vampire electronics and shutting off lights are great ways for students to help conserve,” Waskow said.

This post was updated Nov. 1, 2011 to reflect the following: The Hatchet incorrectly captioned the male student in the photo as Amit Paul. Amit Paul is another eco-rep for Mitchell Hall but the male student in the photo is Miles Milliken.

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