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Students, faculty and staff to compete in upcoming sustainability contests

Two new sustainability contests will begin at Brandeis over the next few weeks in an effort to raise awareness on how students, faculty and administration can work together to conserve energy, according to Mary Fischer, Brandeis’ sustainability coordinator. Following the North Quad vs. Massell Quad contest held last semester, there will be a “cross-campus” sustainability contest between office and academic buildings as well as and a competition between Ziv Quad, Ridgewood and the Village.

The winner of last semester’s contest, Gordon Hall in North Quad, reduced their average daily electricity use by 10 percent. Fischer hopes participants in the upcoming contests can do even more, she said in an email to The Brandeis Hoot.

The cross-campus contest is set to begin on Feb. 29 and will continue through March 13. This cross-campus sustainability contest involves the buildings Shiffman, Olin-Sang, the Mandel Center for the Humanities, Lown, Kutz Hall, Heller-Brown-Schneider, the Administration Complex, 480 Old South Street and 60 Turner Street.

The residence hall contest will start on March 7 and end on March 20. As part of the contest, there will be an Instagram takeover where students share how they are conserving energy, with the 10 residents who post the most receiving TapBrandeis water bottles and the quad whose residents share the most receiving 10 kilowatt hours off their final result. To participate in the Instagram contest, residents of the Quads must use #brandeis and their quad’s special hashtag: #bgreenziv, #bgreenridgewood or #bgreenvillage.

The winning building and quad will receive a party with locally-sourced apple cider and cider donuts as well as their their building or quad name on the sustainability trophy.

Interim results on participants progress will be available on the Brandeis Sustainability website, said Fischer in an email to The Hoot.

Posters about the contest suggest many ways students may save energy in their residence halls. Students can, for example, turn lights out when sunlight is sufficient or when the lights are not in use, power off and unplug computers and gaming consoles when they are not being used, and use less hot air on things such as hair driers and space-heaters.

Mary Fischer, Brandeis’ sustainability coordinator, explained in emails with The Hoot that the sustainability contests aim to educate, raise awareness and show that the Brandeis community is able to make a difference in our daily energy usage.

The Brandeis campus “uses approximately 45 million kilowatt hours of electricity per year, at a cost of about $6 million,” said Fischer.

The university uses around 25 percent more energy per square foot compared to similar college campuses, said Fischer, even factoring in points such as size, age and climate zone.

“Part of the reason is simply how we use energy individually. We have control over that, and we can really make a difference.”

Fischer explains that the contests are focused around electricity “because our campus does not have the equipment needed to measure building-by-building gas usage.”

Fischer believes contests encourage students and staff to work towards sustainability goals.

“Competitions are ​fun, first of all. But they are ​a great way to ​show that individual actions add up, because they make the results very aligned with their short-term change in behavior,” said Fischer, explaining they “are a window into the cause and effect of energy ​our actions, in this case electricity usage, which is usually very difficult to understand and completely invisible.” Fischer also explained that contests allow the community to see tangible results.

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