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September 26, 2017   |   Ithaca, NY

News

Campus residence halls compete for sustainability award

When Ithaca College students were presented with a sustainability challenge, it became a war.

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Residents of Rowland Hall celebrate their Hall Wars victory last night in the Rowland TV lounge. Rowland won the first part of the competition, which tracked energy use over a two-week period. Diana Cowdery/The Ithacan

Junior Brianne Lewis, president of the Residence Hall Association (RHA), said the students from first-year residence halls Boothroyd, Tallcott and Rowland made their enthusiasm apparent in the Hall Wars Competition, a year-long RHA campaign that encourages students to save energy.

“[They] made a huge deal of it,” Lewis said.

The second “Hall Wars Competition” began Oct. 8 and was sponsored by RHA. The goal is to have residence halls compete against each other to see which hall can reduce its energy consumption the most during a two-week period. The winning residence hall receives a pizza party. The first-year residence halls ended their competition Oct. 22, and the winning hall, Rowland, held their pizza party yesterday.

Sophomore Clifford Engel, director of programming for RHA, said East and West Tower residents started to compete Oct. 22, and Terraces 1 through 4 will begin their competition after the Towers’ is complete. The final winner won’t be determined until February when all competitions have ended.

“We’re trying to expand it this year. We’re … hopefully running it eight times,” Engel said.

To determine a winner, members of RHA measure the amount of energy the hall uses the week prior to the competition. They then compare the results to the percentage of energy use in the following two weeks, divided by the number of residents. The hall that lowers its energy consumption the most wins not only the pizza party, but also their name on the “Lord Poole Juice Cup”.

Andrew Bernier ’07, former president of RHA, started the competition last year and named the cup after a friend who made the trophy out of used car parts.

“It’s the Ithaca College version of the Stanley Cup,” Bernier said.

Bernier came up with the idea of the competition last year from other schools in the region and worked with RHA to develop the college’s own competition.

“We tried to emphasize saving energy, saving money and having a friendly competition on campus,” he said. “And try and build up a little bit of school spirit.”

Bernier said the goal of the competition is to reduce the amount of kilowatt-hours, a standard measurement of household energy consumption, used in the residence halls. When RHA examined the results from last year, they found a 15 to 20 percent drop in energy use.

“It was mind-blowing,” Bernier said. “It actually worked. It goes to show that if you put kids to a challenge, they’re much more apt to do it.”

Bernier said he has been impressed with the progress the program has made since

his graduation.

“When I left, I wondered if it would continue, and now I’m glad that current RHA members kept it going,” he said. “It went on, and that’s as much as I could ask for.”

Senior Amanda Schlenker was a residence adviser in Eastman Hall last year and said the level of student participation proves sustainability is an issue students really care about.

“I don’t think that people do the things that they’re doing because of hall wars,” she said. “I think people are doing them because they care about the environment. If hall wars is an added bonus and the winner gets a pizza party, great, that’s awesome.”

Engel and Lewis said the competition is a way for RHA to get students to learn about sustainability and get involved with the college.

“This is the best way I think that RHA can relate sustainability to the residents,” Engel said.

Engel said students responded to the issue because it is something an Ithaca College student is familiar with.

“Sustainability is so rooted into the college,” Engel said. “It kind of just shows up everywhere.”

Engel and other members of RHA have put up posters in all the halls and bathrooms

describing ways to conserve energy, like turning off computer screens, lights or taking shorter showers.

“The basic rundown for hall wars is trying to get people thinking about using less electricity,” he said.

Freshman Kirstin Hartmann, a Boothroyd Hall resident, said it didn’t take much effort to get her to participate.

“I saw fliers in the halls and in the bathrooms,” Hartmann said. “So I went and turned off my printer.”

Next weekend, RHA will host the Northeastern Affiliate of College and University Residence Halls Regional Conference to discuss RHA programming and events with 44 schools and 350 delegates from seven states.

Lewis said since the theme of this year’s conference is sustainability, RHA plans to present the idea of the Hall Wars competition to other schools at the conference.

Bernier said not all colleges are as responsive to sustainability issues as Ithaca. He said when he attended the conference last year as a consultant, he encountered many uninformed students.

“I would talk about this kind of stuff and I would just get blank looks,” Bernier said. “All these college students don’t have anything remotely close to what we have here at our campus.”