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Energy‑saving "Ecolympians" set for competition

- February 5, 2014

Residences students are ready for the Ecolympics. (Bruce Bottomley photo)
Residences students are ready for the Ecolympics. (Bruce Bottomley photo)

As athletes from around the world prepare to compete in the Olympics, Dal residence students are set for a showdown of their own.

They’re tightening their “green belts” in the hopes of being the “biggest loser” in the Green Residence Forum’s annual Ecolympics challenge, which kicked off this past Friday.

From January 31 to February 14, students in residence buildings on both the Halifax and Agricultural campuses are being challenged to cut down their water and energy consumption by at least five per cent. But this year the stakes are even higher.

Dalhousie students are not only competing residence versus residence for the coveted trophy and movie night, but Dalhousie as a whole is also competing in the Atlantic University Annual Energy Challenge with other universities across the region to reign in energy consumption.

“We’re going to be shouting out on Twitter to the other universities,” says Rochelle Owen, director of the Office of Sustainability and organizer of the event. “It’ll engage people, show school spirit and most importantly build up the competition.”

Full details: Ecolympics 2014

Tracking the competition in real time

To kick up the competition, this year Dalhousie students can scope out in real time how they are measuring up in the competition. With the new up-to-the-minute online dashboard, electric and water usage of the residence buildings is being monitored and displayed online at all hours of the day.

“If you do a major event like shutting all the lights off for an hour, you’ll see it immediately on the dashboard,” says Owen. “That’s the idea behind the immediate feedback: that you can do collective action to cut consumption and really see the results.”

See more: Campus dashboard

Capitalizing on this, on Friday, all residence meal halls turned off the lights and had a “Dinner in the Dark” where students ate by candlelight for the evening.

Residences will be organizing several events over the next two weeks to raise awareness and cut consumption. Some of the fun events include “green trivia” night, movie night and a “commitment to the earth” candy-gram event, where students trade a written commitment of how they will make to live more sustainability for a vegan cupcake.

On the Agricultural Campus, students are challenged to make commitments to take sustainable actions and make changes in their lives. Students will also be able to take part in the various campus-wide Ecolympic events like National Sweater Day and meal hall theme days.

“As this is our first year doing it, it’s all about getting people to understand how they can be sustainable,” says Victoria Oliver, organizer of the Ecolympics on the Agricultural Campus. “We want to get people excited about this so we can make it even bigger next year.”

Train like an “Ecolympian”

Want to put your best foot forward in the competition? Here are some ways to cut your consumption daily:

  • Take shorter showers
  • Take the stairs
  • Bring your own mug and reusable water bottles
  • Unplug power appliances when not in use
  • Lower your thermostat
  • Turn off the lights when you leave a room
  • Get involved! Join the Green Residence Forum or other student sustainability societies on campus

“It’s really that you’re competing against yourself,” says Raja Ubhi leader of the Green Residence Forum. “It’s just about being smart, changing the way you think and living within your means. You don’t need to be extreme, just smart.”


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