College of Human Ecology Holds First ‘Energy Smackdown’ Competition

The competition is part of the College of Human Ecology’s “Toward a Sustainable Organization” initiative...

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By Phoebe Keller via The Daily Sun, 11/20/14

The College of Human Ecology kicked off its first-ever Energy Smackdown Competition — a celebration of conservation and competitiveness — on Monday.

The competition, which will run through the end of 2014, is the second in a series of four sustainable topics that the college will be sponsoring over the next few months, according to Kristine Mahoney, director of facilities and operations at the human ecology college.

“[This event] is a partnership between the academic and administrative programs of the college to encourage behavior change and decision making in favor of more sustainable actions, and [will] benefit support of President [David] Skorton’s climate action plan,” Mahoney said.

Five teams — each formed by buildings that are part of the college — Beebe Hall; the Human Ecology Building; Martha Van Rensselaer Hall’s main and east wing; Martha Van Rensselaer’s west wing; and Savage Hall and Kinzelberg Hall, according to Mahoney. The buildings will compete against each other in an effort to reduce their electrical consumption for a 45-day time period.

Mahoney said leaders at the college have realized that in order to take sustainability at Cornell to the next level, individuals need to increase awareness of their energy usage.

“Much of our effort thus far has been tied to capital projects,” she said. “To continue our reduction in usage, we need all building users to be aware and actively think about decisions they make to use power.”

One key tool for involving the student body is an online dashboard, where students can monitor their building’s progress and check in on their competition, according to Mahoney. Because the buildings involved in the competition range in size and functional use, the dashboard compares a building’s specific usage this year to its usage last year during the same period of time to keep the contest fair.

“Because we have the tools to measure in real time, the occupants can see their results the same day,” she said.

The competition is part of the College of Human Ecology’s “Toward a Sustainable Organization” initiative, which began this fall, according to Mahoney.

In partnership with the Cornell Sustainable Campus’ Think Big Live Green Initiative, the college has developed four themes for engagement this year — green offices and green labs, energy conservation, waste management and community well-being, according to Mahoney.

This is the first year that the College of Human Ecology has engaged the entire community in this competition, according to Mahoney. Although the conclusion of the competition is more than a month away, Mahoney said she is encouraged by the amount of involvement she has seen so far.

“We have seen a tremendous amount of participation and effort, and we hope to be able to continue this tradition each year with the start of heating season,” she said.

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