Put college rivalries to good use

I saw in the Sunday Des Moines Register that people at Wartburg and Luther colleges in northeast Iowa channeled their competitive energy into something useful:

Pranksters traditionally make 75-mile road trips between Decorah and Waverly to dress campus statues in opposition colors. Now they have been joined by eco-conscious students in a month-long competition to see which school can conserve more energy and lower campus utility bills.

Strategies have included shorter showers, turned-off lights and unplugged cell phone chargers. […]

“If we lose, we have to have a sign that says ‘Wartburg won’ ” displayed publicly for one month, Luther freshman Brian Gerike, 19, of St. Louis said. “I don’t think anyone wants to see that at Luther.” […]

Two state universities in drought-plagued North Carolina saved 11 million gallons of water in a three-month contest last year.

Luther senior and Minnesota native Megan Selvig, 21, said the trick is to inject rivalry into the mix.

She said Luther students will try to win any contest that includes that school to the south.

“Their ears perk up when they hear Wartburg,” Selvig said.

The feeling is mutual.[…]

A winner will determined when February utility bills arrive.

In a final push for victory, Luther dormitory dwellers were planning to hold “blackout parties” Saturday night.

I’ve never been into college rivalries, but think about how much water and energy could be saved if the University of Iowa and Iowa State agreed to an efficiency contest.

With deep budget cuts looming, all college and university presidents should think about ways to get the student body excited about something that will save money. Normally college students have little reason to conserve energy, because they’re not paying the utility bills.

Speaking of saving money, we noticed a big drop in our utility bills after Mr. desmoinesdem turned down the thermostats to between 59 and 62 (in previous winters we’ve kept the house at 64 to 66). It’s still comfortable as long as I wear layers and slippers.

Daily Kos user chapter1 wrote a good diary recently about a new meter that gives people rapid feedback about how much electricity they use at home. This helps people understand which small changes can make a big difference in their consumption, the same way a Prius shows continuously how the way you drive affects the car’s mileage.

This thread is for any suggestions on saving energy or putting human competitive streaks to good use.

UPDATE: The Environmental Law and Policy Center (ELPC) “seeks to hire a dedicated Energy Efficiency Policy and Technical Specialist with 3+ years of professional experience for a full-time position in our Chicago, Columbus, Des Moines or Madison offices.” Click the link for more details.

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  • Hey, how about a Freegan cookoff!!!

    How’s that sound for a competitive suggestion? I’ll bet you anything I make the best durned freegan hash/stew you ever tasted.

    And we can use my solar oven to boot, so there!

  • Ok, so let's do a Freegan cookoff fundraiser for real!

    Now that I have given this a little more thought, I pick up donations all the time for the DM Catholic Worker, and usually share some of that with the local Food Not Bombs (when they are operational, ahem).

    If we used my solar oven to cook donated surplus or “out of date” food from like the Star Bar and the Gateway Market, this could be quite a tasty spread actually.  And raise awareness of how much food waste there is on a daily basis locally.

    We could maybe do this at that park right down Woodland from the Gateway Market, and charge those who can afford it for our “Gourmet Freegan Cuisine”?

    Don’t you think it would be fun to try and come up with a gourmet style menu on the fly based on whatever donated food we could manage to scrounge?

    Only question is, to whom should we donate the proceeds?