Building Energy Challenge

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Welcome to the Homepage for the OSU Building Energy Challenge!

The 3rd annual Building Energy Challenge will begin on February 6th! This year the challenge is kicking off at the same time as the Campus Conservation Nationals, which is the first college and university national energy and water reduction competition. Good luck to Residence Halls which will be participating in this competition. For all participating buildings the challenge will end on February 27th.   

The Building Energy Challenge aims to reduce energy consumption through the combined effects of individual action by occupants of participating buildings.  By using no-to-low cost actions such as turning off computers and lights, unplugging non-essential equipment, and replacing incandescent lamps with compact fluorescents (CFLs), we can significantly reduce our energy consumption. And we can have fun doing it!

Join us for our kick-off event at the MU Journey Room at Noon on February 6th. Games and snacks provided!

We encourage all buildings to try to save more energy than last year!

The total electricity savings from the 2011 OSU Building Energy Challenge: 14,627 kWh (approx. $780)

Think we can do it?

Bexell Hall

If you would like to participate in the Building Energy Challenge, or for more information on how to save evergy, please contact Bo Bestvina




About & Rules

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About the Challenge

The OSU Building Energy Challenge strives to reduce energy consumption in participating buildings through the combined actions of building occupants.  Using only no-to-low cost measures, we believe that energy consumption in our buildings can be significantly reduced by

  • Making occupants aware of their energy consumption and the associated environmental impacts
  • Informing occupants of ways to reduce their energy consumption
  • Providing weekly energy consumption information to occupants

We will provide the information, but you must provide the action.  A small amount of effort by many occupants will result in significant energy savings, without significantly burdening any one individual.

Participant Responsibilities:

Event Coordinator: Mikkel VandeBergh (Student Sustainability Initiative)

Ensure proper coordination and communication between all participants of the Challenge.  Provide marketing materials and consultation where requested.  Coordinate events and prizes. Contact Mikkel for questions directly related to Residence Halls.

Outreach and Marketing Coordinator: Bo Bestvina (OSU Sustainability Office)

Provide marketing materials, contact building representatives, and offer consultation when requested. Contact Bo for non-residence buildings.

Data Reporter: Nick Somnitz  (OSU Sustainability Office)

Do weekly meter reads and provide energy data analysis. Contact Nick for energy updates.

Building Reps:

Act as building contact for coordinators and data reporter, mainly involved with distribution of materials and communications to own unit/department and to volunteers.


Distribute materials and communications to unit/department.

"Above and beyond" actions: Promote event within unit and beyond.  Take responsibility for typically overlooked spaces (e.g. turn off bathroom lights at night).  Request compact fluorescent lamps and power strips.  Request information on making building equipment and processes more efficient.  Network within building to further promote event.


Duration of the Challenge:

The 2012 Building Energy Challenge runs from February 6th to the 27th. Normally the challenge runs for the entire month of February

Calculation of the Baseline:

The energy baseline for each building is the line by which success will be measured.  Calculated using electricity consumption for the past three Februaries, the baseline allows for comparison between buildings while negating the significant differences between buildings (square footage, building use type, age, HVAC systems, etc.).  While this Challenge is billed as a competition between buildings, buildings are essentially competing against their historical consumption

Weekly baselines are created for each building. 

General Rules:

While the Challenge is between buildings, buildings are essentially competing against themselves.  For each building, an energy baseline, based on past February energy data, will be created.  Buildings that use the least amount of energy when compared to the baseline each week and for the duration of the Challenge win prizes.

The Challenge is focused on no-to-low cost actions performed by individuals or unit/departmental groups.  Examples of these actions may include:

  • Turning off lights in unoccupied areas
  • Putting computers into standby during long periods of downtime (>30 minutes) and at night
  • Using a power strip or unplugging electrical devices at night
  • Setting thermostat at appropriate levels

Please see our Tips page for more example actions.

While significant savings can obviously be made through building improvements (lighting upgrades, HVAC recommissioning, building envelope improvements, etc.) the goal of the Challenge is to inspire energy efficiency through behavioral change, not through capital improvements.

However, some low-cost equipment is available to all participants of the Challenge.  These include:

  • Compact fluorescent lamps (CFLs)
  • Power strips

Please contact Bo for more information about receiving this equipment.


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Important Dates:

February 1st (week 1): Challenge begins!

February 8th (week 2): Time to focus on plug loads.

February 15th (week 3): HVAC

February 22nd (week 4): The final countdown

March 1st: Overall winner announced.

Contact Information

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Participating Building Category Primary Building Rep(s) Supporting Building Rep(s)
Adams Hall Heat Only Dan VanVliet, Kegan Sims, Hank Kemper  
Bexell Hall Heat Only Kim Calder  
Cascades Hall Shop/Maintenance Cheryl Lyons, Jacque Allen Jack Rogers
Facilities Services Shops Shop/Maintenance JayLene Seeley  
Kelley Engineering Office & Data Center Gale Sumida  Todd Shechter
Kerr Administration Office & Data Center Chris Crabtree, Joy Jorgensen  
Moreland Hall Heat Only Ann Leen, Shirley Dodsworth  
Motor Pool Shop/Maintenance Justin Fleming  
Property Services Shop/Maintenance Rae Delay Andrea Norris
Withycombe Hall Some HVAC Helen Chesbrough Nora Ross, Angie Weeks - Theatre

Contacts & Links

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Contact Information:

Event Coordinator:

Greg Smith, Sustainability Program Assistant, Sustainability Office, Facilities Services

Student Interns:

Annie Jacobs, Sophomore, Biology

Jonathan Truong, Junior, Biology

Lindsey Almarode, Freshman, Environmental Science

Luke Gregson, Sophomore, Biology

Quinn Collins, Senior, Environmental Science

Shannon Bradley, Sophomore, Environmental Science

Wesley Campbell, Junior, Natural Resources

Building Reps:

Ag. Life Sciences: Caprice Rosato

Bexell: Kimberli Calder

Milam Hall: Debi Rothermund

Moreland Hall: Ann Leen, Shirley Dodsworth

Wilkinson Hall: Steve Cook

Women's Building: Adam Nicholson


Building Energy Challenges at other colleges and universities

People Power

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Featured Participants

Steve Schofiel, along with fellow employees at the Property Services building, constantly promotes awareness by making a conscious effort to turn off electrical devices not being used at the time.

David Kerr, from Moreland Hall, is very mindful of the little everyday energy savers and has also suggested ways to increase the efficiency of the temperature control for the water dispensers in the offices.

Jennifer Busick, from the Kerr Administration building, is conscious of her printing habits and always turns off the lights on her way out the door, as she heads for the stairwell.


 Aurora Sherman, from Moreland Hall, has trained herself to turn off both her computer monitor and hard-drive in a single two step process, consciously making it a part of her daily routine.


 Abby Metzger, from Bexell Hall, makes sure to bundle up in her naturally sunlit room, and is conscious of using her space heater only when absolutely necessary.

No picture available

Rae Delay, operations manager for the Property Services building, adjusted the thermostat to accommodate for the comfort of everyone, while only heating and cooling the work space when necessary.

No picture available

Charlotte Rooks, from the Kerr Administration building, is consistently conscious of everyday energy saving behavior and also makes sure to utilize the new composting system that the building has recently implemented.


Participant Pledges

I pledge to reduce energy consumption by:

  • Putting my computer in standby mode and turning off monitors @ night - CR, Kerr
  • Turning off lights when leaving office/restrooms & turning off PC at night all while encouraging others to do so as well - RF, Kerr
  • Turning off unneeded lighting, standby computer @ night - BM, Kerr
  • Not use elevator, use stairs! Walk to work all week.  Lights off, restroom.  Limit paper towels, 2 sided copies @ copier, etc. - PM, Kerr
  • Turn off lights when not needed; shut off computer at night; unplug parasitic loads - DC, Kerr
  • Recycle paper; turn off lighghts in bathroom and office in the PM; walk to/from work - GB, Kerr
  • Turning off lights, noly using one bank of lights, putting computer to sleep - KC, Kerr
  • Using strip cords & turn off nightly - KS, Kerr
  • Turning off lights when not in my office, turning my computer off at night, riding bike to work, using reusable containers, etc. - JB, Kerr
  • Turning off lights & computer more - KM, Kerr
  • Turning off everything in my work station before going home - KL, Kerr
  • Turn off lights, recycle paper & batteries; get rechargable batteries for remote access - NH, Kerr
  • 25% - LB, Kerr
  • Keeping artificial lights off except when too dark to work - CF, Kerr
  • Turning off computers & lights when not in use; turning off TV when not in use and at end of the night - KW, Bexell
  • Turning my computer on standby when working a project; turning TV on later & off earlier in waiting room - EB, Bexell
  • Turn my desk light off when at lunch or when at a meeting - NN, Kerr
  • Turning off PC and monitor at night; making sure to turn off printers & copiers at night - KL, Bexell
  • Power down equipment during weekend - GT, Bexell
  • Turning off my monitor; turning lights off when I leave the room - SB, Bexell
  • Turn off computer, screen, speakers at end of day - WA, Kerr
  • Unplugging random stuff & disconnecting 1/2 the fluorescent tubes in each fixture - Anonymous





Other Actions


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How to Save Energy in Your Building

[2010 Challenge Tip of the Day Archive]    [How & Why Action Grid]

Got good ideas on how to save energy on campus?  Tell us about them! 

  • Turn off lights where they aren't needed
  • Use natural light and task lighting instead of overhead lighting
  • Use only as much light as you need
  • Replace traditional incandescent lamps with compact fluorescent lamps (CFLs) (Request a CFL from your Building Rep!)

Compact fluorescent lamps (CFLs) use 75% less electricity than an equivalent incandescent lamp, which makes them great for energy savings.  However, they do have a few requirements to keep in mind to ensure a successful application:

  • Placement & Use: The life of a CFL is reduced by moisture, excessive heat, and frequent on/off cycling.  Avoid installing recessed lighting fixtures (can lights for example) where heat cannot be dissapated.  Most CFLs are not compatible with dimmer switches.

  • Light Color: A common complaint about CFL's is that they are "too cold" or "too white".  A lamp's rated color temperature indicates the lamp's "warmth"; for light similar to a traditional incandescent, look for a color temperature of 2700K or lamps labeled "warm white".

  • Safety: CFLs do contain a small amount of mercury (~5 mg) which is released if the lamp is broken.  See the EPA's recommendation on how to deal with a broken CFL.

  • Disposal: Because of the mercury contained by the lamp, CFLs must be disposed of as hazardous waste.  For on-campus disposal, please fill out the Hazardous Waste Pickup Request form.  For personal use CFLs, Home Depot accepts burnt out CFLs for proper disposal at no charge, as does Allied Waste at their recycling center. 

Seattle Power and Light has a great site dedicated to CFLs.

Electronics and Plug Loads:
  • Set your computer to enter standby after 30 minutes and to turn off the monitor after 15 minutes. Use standby or turn off computers at night.
  • Turn off printers and other electrical equipment at night.  To further conserve electricity, unplug, or use power strips, to disconnect equipment and eliminate phantom loads.
  • Purchase ENERGY STAR® or EPEAT™-certified electronics and appliances.
Heating and Cooling
  • In winter, keep thermostats at or below 68 degrees. Use radiant heaters like Cozy Toes instead of inefficient forced air electric heaters, which also present a fire hazard.
  • Use a fan instead of air conditioning (AC). If you have AC, set it at for cooling at 76 degrees or higher.
  • Make sure windows are closed if you’re using either heat or AC.
  • Dress appropriately for the weather. In summer, wear light, breathable clothing; in winter, layer clothing.
  • Consider installing window films if you experience high temperatures from direct sunlight.  Blinds and shades help too.
  • In the summer, close blinds during the day and open them at night to minimize heat gain.  In the winter, do the opposite (closed at night, open during day).
  • Reduce hours of use of non-essentail exhaust fans.  Not only are they needlessly using electricity, exhuast fans vent conditioned air, which requires significant energy use to replace.
  • In the lab, turn off equipment when not in use (or use timers to do it for you)
  • Keep fume hood sashes at the indicated height when in use and closed when not in use.
Tips from other organizations:

US Dept. of Energy:

Office of Energy Efficiency & Renewable Energy:

Michael Bluejay:

Conservation Concepts

We know you have good ideas on how to save energy on campus, so let us know what they are and you could win a $50 gift certificate to the OSU Bookstore!

Submit your great ideas to Greg by midnight on February 18th for a chance to win.  The winner will be announced on February 28th, the last day of the Challenge.

Conservation concepts will be judged on originality, overall impact, replicability, ease of implementation, and visibility.

2010 Tip of the Day Archive:

February 2nd:  Leaving the room for more than 10 minutes?  Turn those fluorescent lights off! The energy consumed during the ‘power surge’ at start-up is equal to 5 seconds of normal light operation.  Then why wait 10 minutes?  Frequently cycling fluorescent lights on & off reduces lamp life.

February 3rd: Fluorescent bulbs still use energy even when they’re burnt out! Contact Custodial if a lamp has been out for more than 2 weeks.  Space well-lit without that bulb? Contact us to discuss delamping options.