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Residence hall students “pull the plug” to reduce energy use

BOONE—Students living on campus at Appalachian State University reduced their energy consumption 3.1 percent or the equivalent of 26,421 kilowatt hours of electricity during the annual Battle of the Plug.

The informal cooperative event between Appalachian and Western Carolina University encourages students to reduce energy use by using day lighting instead of incandescent or fluorescent lighting, unplugging chargers from wall outlets, putting computers in sleep mode when not in use and turning off power strips when electric appliances are not in use.

The competition ran from Feb. 18 to March 11. Appalachian’s participation was a collaboration among University Housing, Office of Sustainability, Green Living Residential Learning Community, US Green Building Council student group and Lucid Design Building Dashboard.

“The students who participate in the competition gain a better appreciation for how their actions can have a larger impact on the campus and the world by actively participating in more sustainable behaviors,” said Ryan Heins, University Housing coordinator.

The energy reductions at the two universities equaled 32,185 pounds of averted CO2 emissions and saved $1,849. The kilowatts of energy saved equal about what two average southeastern U.S. homes use in one year.

“This battle has really helped raise awareness among our students about how they use energy,” said Chris Criqui, resident assistant for Frank Hall. “Those of us whose lives are engrossed in sustainability know all about phantom loads and the dangers of long showers, but this information is less obvious to the general student body. Or at least it used to be.”

Criqui said students at Appalachian also lowered room thermostats two to three degrees, turned off all lights when rooms were unoccupied, and even wore clothes several times before washing them.

“The real goal of Battle of the Plug is education,” said Jonathan Remein, US Green Building Council vice president. “The fact that students learn conservation practices from this competition proves its success.”

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