During the week of Mar. 20-24, Eco Reps, a student run organization within Shi Institute for Sustainable Communities, hosted an energy competition, “Power the Paladin.” Inspired by Amherst University’s “Kill-A-Watt Week,” the competition pitted North Village apartment buildings against each other to see who could use their energy most efficiently. 

Throughout the week, Eco Rep volunteers shared energy use tips by tabling and creating media content. Energy tips fell under five categories: heating and cooling, water heating, appliances, lighting, and personal media and appliances. 

By the end of the week, North Village J won the competition, earning them some well-deserved donuts, a nod to Kate Raworth’s Sustainability Doughnut Model. When asked how their apartment felt about the win, a North Village J resident said "we've certainly been talking about it in the groupchat!"

I spoke with Joy Baker from the Shi Institute to learn how the winner was selected. “We established a baseline for each building based on seven years of previous energy usage. So each building was competing against their own baseline as opposed to a building vs. building model,” Joy stated. By establishing a baseline for each building, apartments competed against themselves rather than directly against each other. Further explaining the method of the calculations, Joy shared that “the baseline controlled for factors like fewer residents but also things like building orientation as those that get more direct sunlight have greater cooling needs.” 

North Village J may have won the competition, but many apartment buildings reduced their energy use from their own baselines. Throughout the week many Eco Reps shared their excitement with me as their peers learned sustainable lifestyles. The culture of Furman is steadily shifting to embracing sustainability. As the university strives to reassess its' climate neutrality plan, student opinion will be invaluable in pushing for quick and impactful change.