In an attempt to continue the University of Wisconsin's efforts to reduce energy consumption, residence halls competed this month to conserve the most electricity and the winner was announced Monday.
The Wisconsin Public Interest Research Group helped organize the competition between 10 residence halls located near Lake Mendota. Adams Hall was declared the winner with an estimated 38-percent energy reduction over the 13-day competition.
"We focused on the little things because they don't have a lot of control over other things in residence halls," WISPIRG organizer Tony Uhl said. "Whether they leave their computer on all night can add up quickly."
Uhl said students were educated about "phantom drain," where electronics like hair driers or cell phone chargers still use electricity while plugged into wall outlets, even though they aren't in use.
Data from the UW Physical Plant was compiled and analyzed over five years to compute an average for a typical 13-day period with the current weather in order to award the most changed residence hall, Uhl said.
Shelby Sanchez, a house fellow at Adams, said it was little changes in daily habits like turning computers off at night that made the big difference for their residence hall.
"I would attribute the success to a lot of people making the effort to turn off bathroom lights — before they were left on all day," Sanchez said. "People were really making an effort and establishing new habits, and I think that worked really well."
In addition to helping the environment, the winning residence hall was treated to an ice cream sundae party, according to Uhl.
Uhl said the project worked in conjunction with both UW and WISPIRG initiatives in Madison and on campus.
"It basically fits perfectly with Big Red Go Green and we support UW's 'We Conserve' initiative, which really goes towards efficiency," Uhl said. "We would like to go more toward sustainability and renewable sources, but also teach students because they use so much of the energy here on campus, and they can help to contribute to protect the environment."
Other residence halls in the competition were Tripp, Slichter, Kronshage, Jones, Turner, Mack, Gilman, Swenson and Chamberlin.