Residence halls compete to see which can save the most energy

Cody Francis

Reducing energy in the dorms by 20 percent could save the university $1 million in costs

As a result of Kent State’s goal to meet the requirements for House Bill 251, Residence Services is holding its second annual Energy Conservation Month challenge.

House Bill 251 requires all state facilities in Ohio, including universities, to reduce energy usage by 20 percent by 2014.

The competition pits groups of residence halls against each other to find out which can save the most energy during the month of October.

Jim Zentmeyer, associate director of administrative operations and facilities for residence services, said the competition is not only to raise awareness about energy conservation, but it is meant to permanently change the lifestyles of students.

Kent State is currently spending over $6 million a year in utility costs. Zentmeyer said the more Kent State has to spend on utilities each year, the higher the price will be for students living on campus. As a reverse effect, if Kent State spends less on utilities, it will have an “immediate direct impact” on the price of campus living.

“We utilize the energy competition as simply a way to raise consciousness in our students and to let them know they can have a significant impact on our energy consumption,” Zentmeyer said. “The fewer dollars we have to spend on utilities, the fewer dollars students have to spend on next year’s board charges.”

The results from last year’s competition show that students can, in fact, have a real impact on Kent State’s energy use. During the one-month span of the competition, Kent State students saved the university $15,352 in energy costs. This is the equivalent to the energy used by 34 cars in that time period, a 12.3 percent decrease in energy use compared to the base year of 2006.

Zentmeyer said he would like to see a dramatic decrease in energy use this year. He said students should take the lessons they learn from this competition and continue to use them after the month is finished.

“What we’re hoping to do with this competition is to see if we can change the lifestyle of students for the entire academic year,” he said.

Zentmeyer estimates if energy use is reduced by 20 percent in residence halls alone over an academic year, it would save the university about $1 million in utility expenses.

Residence services has plans to follow the Energy Conservation Month with a November recycling campaign in conjunction with Campus Environment and Operations.

Contact room and board reporter Cody Francis at [email protected].