The OEP kicks off its 11th annual conservation competition

The University of Connecticut Office of Environmental Policy (OEP) is hosting the 11th annual month-long EcoMadness competition to conserve water and energy. (Charlotte Lao/Daily Campus)

The University of Connecticut Office of Environmental Policy (OEP) is hosting the 11th annual month-long EcoMadness competition to conserve water and energy.

The purpose of the event is to save water and energy through a competition between campus residence halls to have the largest decrease in usage among the participating groups, accordinging to the OEP website

This year’s competition will include Buckley, Shippee, East, West, Northwest and Towers residence halls, Benjamin Breslau, a senior intern at the OEP, said.

The winning residence hall is determined after the second week of November, once all the data has been reviewed. The winner will be treated to an ice cream party with Dairy Bar ice cream, Breslau said.

The interns at the OEP spend September recording water and energy usage in the dorms, in order to create a baseline that allows them to gauge how much is saved when the competition begins in October, Breslau said. According to the EcoHusky website, the results will be updated weekly during the competition so residents will know the rank of their dorm. 

Meters used to measure daily energy and water usage are attached to the six residence halls on campus, Breslau said. These are used to collect the data for the competition, and track energy consumption.

“The hope is that either next year or the year after they’ll be attaching meters to every single residence hall,” Breslau said.

The four elements of the competition include percentage of water and energy reduced, and the  individual student conservation of water and energy, Breslau said.

For the last two weeks, interns from the OEP have been going to resident assistant (RA) meetings to inform RAs of how to promote the competition, Breslau said. Students living in the competing dorms can also volunteer as EcoCaptains, which are educators and advocates for the event to their fellow students, Breslau said.

“It’s a great way to get a little bit of leadership experience and also stand out from the crowd,” Breslau said.

Breslau said the Associate Director of Residential Life, Charles Holmes-Hope, as well as the hall directors that work with the OEP, have been enthusiastic about the competition.

“Hope… has been really excited about endorsing the competition and promoting it in any way he can,” Breslau said.

Students can conserve energy by doing small things, such as turning off lights when a room is empty, unplugging appliances when they’re not in use, doing full loads of laundry and taking shorter showers, Breslau said.

“If you can cut (showers) down to even 10 or 15 minutes, that’s already saving dozens and dozens of gallons of water,” Breslau said.

Older dorms tend to see individual students using less water and energy, and newer dorms tend to see a reduction in use overall, Breslau said.

“(The different measurements) accommodate for dorms that were built at different times and (have) different energy requirements,” Breslau said.

The EcoHusky website includes data from the last 11 years that shows a trend of more water and energy being saved during the competition, Breslau said. According to the website, there was an overall 28 percent water reduction in gallons, and a 32 percent energy reduction in kilowatt hours during last year’s competition

“Even if (the change is) marginal, it’s still something,” Breslau said.


Nicholas Hampton is a campus correspondent for The Daily Campus. He can be reached via email at nicholas.hampton@uconn.edu.