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WKU wins ‘Bluegrass Unplugged’ conservation competition

WKU has won the regional “Bluegrass Unplugged” competition as part of the Campus Conservation Nationals (CCN) 2013.

bluegrass unplugged bannerWKU, University of Louisville, University of Kentucky and Berea College competed in “Bluegrass Unplugged” from March 23 to April 12 as part of the nationwide electricity and water use reduction competition among colleges and universities.

“It was a really close competition, but thanks to the hard work by staff in Housing and Residence Life who worked with students in our residence halls and to our PowerSave interns who worked on engagement and awareness activities, WKU was able to reduce its use more than the other schools,” said Sustainability Coordinator Christian Ryan-Downing.

Meredith Hall was the top performer on campus by reducing its total usage by 12.3 percent followed by Southwest Hall at 10.1 percent and Northeast Hall at 7.8 percent. Students in those residence halls will be recognized at WKU’s Earth Day festival on Friday (April 26). Meredith Hall residents will receive a “Bluegrass Unplugged” T-shirt while Southwest and Northeast residents will receive a free scoop of ice cream.

“Housing and Residence Life’s contribution to the ‘Bluegrass Unplugged’ would not have been possible without the support and encouragement from the hall directors and student staff,” said David Baskett, Coordinator for Facilities for Housing and Residence Life. “Promoting the competition and encouraging their residents to ‘reduce their use’ made all the difference in the competition. I am proud of the hard work and dedication of the Housing and Residence Life staff, Office of Sustainability, and the PowerSave Interns.”

WKU’s PowerSave interns are Ashley McCloughan of Bowling Green; Sophia Sterlin of Port-au-Prince, Haiti; Mary Boothe of Georgetown; and Mary Newton of Owensboro. PowerSave Campus is a student-driven energy efficiency education program sponsored by the Alliance to Save Energy and TVA.

“The PowerSave Interns are really excited that we won the regional competition and we’re anxious to see the national results,” McCloughan said. “We do hope to see an improvement for next year, though, because we know that the students at WKU are capable of amazing things.”

WKU used a new online energy kiosk to track data during the competition. “I want to acknowledge the support and assistance of our partners at Johnson Controls who worked with me to post graphics on the kiosk and to track the energy usage data. They were very supportive of our efforts,” Ryan-Downing said. (Read more about the WKU Energy Kiosk.)

The “Bluegrass Unplugged” competition and other Earth Week activities have shown the overall value of energy conservation and education on campus, she said.

For example, about 275 people attended a screening of the documentary “Switch” hosted by the Department of Geography & Geology and Office of Sustainability on Wednesday night. “The level of participation in these events is evidence of the interest in energy conservation and other energy topics we have at WKU,” Ryan-Downing said.

The Campus Conservation Nationals were created by The Center for Green Schools at the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC) through its Students Program, and in partnership with Lucid, Alliance to Save Energy and the National Wildlife Federation. (Read more about WKU’s participation in the Campus Conservation Nationals.)

Contact: Christian Ryan-Downing, (270) 745-2508.

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