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You Visit Tour. Webb Lion Fountain. June 1 2017. Photo David B. Hollingsworth

ODU Students Help Conserve Energy, Compete with Virginia Schools

With the start of the ODU Energy Challenge this past Sunday, Old Dominion University's residence students are off to a strong start in their quest to win their competition with Virginia Commonwealth University and the University of Richmond.

The three schools have formed a Virginia competition through Campus Conservation Nationals, a nationwide contest aimed at reducing energy and water usage on college and university campuses.

After the first few days of tracking, ODU residence halls had reduced their energy output by 13.6 percent, compared with 12.3 percent for VCU, and three percent for U of R. Virginia Commonwealth has edged ahead, but ODU remains solidly in second place, very close to VCU.

The three-week-long competition kicked off at ODU in the Webb University Center's North Café with an event Thursday, Feb. 5. Emily Eddins, assistant director for service learning with ODU's Office of Leadership & Student Involvement, urged students to consider simple everyday actions such as turning off lights when they leave a room.

"I think we live in an area that people can see the effect of hurting our climate, through sea level rise," Eddins said. "It's important for students to know simple ways to keep climate-friendly, to think about sustainability in general."

At the kickoff event, the number of commitments from ODU students to reduce their energy consumption during the competition and beyond more than doubled. Throughout the three weeks of the competition, other events will be held, to keep the attention on this cause.

On Thursday, Feb. 19 from 12:30-1:30 p.m. in Webb Center's Café 1201, a social will be hosted by the Student National Environmental Health Association, along with ODU's Student Government Association, LSI, Monarch Dining, Housing and Residence Life and ODU Facilities, to further encourage energy-smart activities. A playlist of songs relating to electricity and conservation will be blasted out, in a high-energy social event designed to encourage more ODU students to commit to reducing their personal energy use.

During the Feb. 8-28 event, residence halls on each of the three participating campuses are competing against one another to reduce the highest percentage of electricity in comparison to a baseline measurement for that building. Energy consumption will be tracked and displayed using the competition dashboard.

Total reduction amounts for each of the three schools will be compared against each other as part of the CCN competition. Each campus will also award prizes to students in the residence hall that reduces the most electricity on its campus.

Throughout the competition, students are encouraged to conserve energy by unplugging electronics or turning off power strips. The competition will also educate students on using natural light whenever possible and making sure to turn electric lights off when leaving a room.

To see how ODU residence halls are faring in the competition, or to pledge to reduce your own energy consumption, see the competition dashboard at http://buildingdashboard.net/odu/#/odu.

Participants can also use #LightsOutODU on social media to talk about their own energy reduction commitments.

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