Every spring since 2011, WashU’s South 40 Residential Colleges compete to reduce energy use and adopt more sustainable lifestyles, taking away hundreds of metric tons of CO2 from the atmosphere and helping the university save money on electricity costs.
Traditionally, the competition takes place over a 4-week period during which students do all they can to reduce their impact and earn points for their teams. This year, student leaders took the initiative to make Green Cup a yearlong program. “Having it as a month was great too, but I felt like students – especially those not in green groups on campus – were only conscious of their actions for that month. We felt that by expanding it to a full year, it would be easier to build habits and make them natural.” said Sustainability Chair of the CS40 Risako Nosaki, who used to be the EcoRep of LeeBeau, last year’s Green Cup winning ResCollege.
Electricity usage on the South 40 is monitored throughout February and March and is compared against a baseline to identify the percent reduction each ResCollege is able to achieve during these months. Since the beginning of Green Cup in 2011, WashU has significantly expanded its capacity to monitor energy use with the installation of nearly 500 additional meters throughout campus buildings measuring real-time electrical usage. This infrastructure not only allows for programs like Green Cup to exist, but it also guides Facilities in its energy efficiency efforts, making it easy to identify buildings that are the most energy inefficient.
In addition to incentivizing energy savings, this year’s Green Cup point system rewards participation in green events, sustainability knowledge quizzes, the residential composting program, and more. To boost engagement and participation in Green Cup, Eco-Reps and WUGAs have been hosting a series of tabling events where students can commit to sustainable habits, earn prizes, and even swap their energy inefficient bulbs (incandescent and CFLs) for a free LED! The next ones will take place in Bears Den this Thursday February 27, from 6-8p and in the DUC on Monday March 16 from 11a-2p.
While participating in Green Cup, students experience the power they have as individuals and teams to make meaningful change. Data from the Quadrangle portfolio indicates that occupants living in identical units can use 3 to 4 times less energy than others simply due to lifestyle!
So far, LeeBeau has reduced electricity usage by nearly 19% since February 1st. However, ParkMudd (aka PUDD) is currently the winning ResCollege as students have earned points by engaging with sustainability programs at many more levels. However, everything can still change in the remaining month of competition, so keep up the efforts, South 40 residents!