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Business and Policy Areas
Business and Policy Areas

Campus Conservation Contest Shows Results

June 27, 2013

The National Wildlife Foundation, along with the Alliance to Save Energy, the Lucid Foundation, and the U.S. Green Building Council, challenged campuses to reduce energy consumption and conserve water in its annual Campus Conservation Nationals. In the contest's third year, over 300,000 students at 120 colleges and universities competed between February and April. Altering campus culture and behavior is critical to advancing sustainability on campus. Through individual actions there can be cumulative — and substantive — results.

Participating colleges across the country accomplished a significant reduction in electrical consumption and water savings in their residence halls, classrooms, and office buildings during three-week competitions that took place from February through April. Institutions set up their own contests between buildings on campus or in head-to-head competitions with another school. An overview of the results are summarized below.

Electrical Savings

  1. Electrical consumption was reduced by more than 2 million kWh, equivalent to taking 187 U.S. homes off the grid for a year. This also saved over 2.4 million pounds of CO2 from release into the atmosphere.
  2. The top campuses had savings in electrical usage of between 6-19 percent during the three-month time period. They were located in different regions of the nation: Oregon State University, Northwest Missouri State University, St. John's University, Minnesota, Harvey Mudd College, and the University of North Carolina.

Water Savings

  1. Over 1.68 million gallons of water was saved, enough to fill 10 million plastic water bottles.
  2. Campuses with the greatest average percent reduction in water use, saving 4-10 percent, were Northwestern University, California State Polytechnic University, Pomona, Wake Forest University, Oberlin College Conservatory, and Indiana University.

The results from the competition, as well as a compilation of top video contest submissions from participating campuses, can be found on the Compete to Reduce web site. The videos are enticing and thought-provoking and highlight the minimal efforts needed to alter student and staff behavior to create a conservational attitude on a campus. Plans for the fourth annual competition will be announced in early 2014.

Upcoming Campus Sustainability Events


Sally Grans Korsh
Director, Facilities Management and Environmental Policy