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Doin’ it in the dark

Turning off unneeded lights could win some students prizes and bragging rights: the Residence Energy Challenge is back for its sixth year at UNB.

The Residence Energy Challenge is a competition between residences to reduce energy and spread awareness about sustainable living habits.

The challenge began last Friday at McConnell Hall with the Dine in the Dark event. All lights were shut off and replaced with LED candles during dinner in an attempt to save energy.

“The focus is really just getting students involved and engaged,” said Danielle Smith, the sustainability coordinator at UNB Facilities Management.

“The more we can make this a fun activity, the more they’re going to look forward to it. Our slogan this year is ‘Do it in the dark.’ ”

Residences compete against each other in this competition. At the end of the two weeks, the average amount of energy each house saved will be calculated. The residence that saves the highest percentage of energy will win.

“As sort of an incentive, during that two week period, the house with the most acts of green will be entered into a draw for some prizes,” said Smith.

However, that’s not where the competition ends. The total amount of energy saved by UNB as a campus will then be compared to five other Atlantic universities: Mount Allison University, the University of Prince Edward Island, St. Francis Xavier University, Dalhousie University and Mount Saint Vincent University.

“We’ve also … created a team of house captains for the challenge and they’ll be putting on events within their house and updating their house Facebook pages,” Smith said.

There aren’t many rules to the challenge, but sabotaging another residence won’t be tolerated. For example, participants can’t turn on a residence’s lights or change their breaker settings.

“There have been some pretty competitive years and I have heard some stories about people unplugging vending machines and doing a whole bunch of crazy stuff to try to reduce their energy load,” said Smith.

The Residence Energy Challenge began in 2009 and UNB won the challenge over all other participating Atlantic universities.

“Really the end goal of this is to raise student awareness about energy use and how their day to day behaviours have in impact on that,” said Tim Cross, energy coordinator at UNB Facilities Management.

“Energy use and how to save energy is an extremely valuable life lesson that we hope to instill in the students. The university takes energy savings and sustainability very seriously and is very committed, so we wanted to reach out to the student body,” said Cross.

The challenge will continue until Feb. 6, for a total of two weeks.

For updates on your house’s energy load, check out the UNB Sustainability Facebook page and Twitter feed: @UNB_Sustain.

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