University of Rochester

Competition Encourages Energy Conservation by Students

February 22, 2006

The University of Rochester's Office of Residential Life, the University's student environmental organization Grassroots, and the residential advisors of Crosby, Hoeing, and Gilbert Halls are sponsoring a campus-wide competition to promote energy conservation. The contest, called UR Unplugged, is taking place throughout the month of February and all River Campus residence halls will compete.

UR Unplugged was initiated by Nils Klinkenberg, a resident advisor from the College. Klinkenberg is also a former president of Grassroots and did extensive research involving energy conservation programs at other universities as part of an independent study.

"I'd heard the idea of a dorm energy conservation competition a couple of years ago in Grassroots," said Klinkenberg, "and I happened to be visiting Oberlin College last spring during a two-week competition there." Klinkenberg brought the idea for a conservation competition to University Energy Manager Morris Pierce and the Office of Residential Life, who agreed to help sponsor the event.

Residence halls will be judged on their per-student conservation relative to a four-week baseline period from last fall. Promotions for UR Unplugged encourage students to turn off their lights when leaving their room and shut their computer off overnight to conserve as much energy as possible. Other suggestions promote studying in public spaces, such as the library, instead of in dorm rooms.

"The true value of this program lies in raising student consciousness about high energy usage in our individual lives and its consequences to the environmental, economic, and social sustainability of society," said Klinkenberg.

Each week, the residence hall that conserves the most energy will receive $100, and the residence hall with the largest total conservation at the end of the program will receive a monetary prize proportional to the amount of residents. Students are encouraged to attend other events being held this month, such as a panel discussion titled "Energy, the Environment and Our Future." The goal of these events is to increase awareness of the competition, as well as provide more opportunities to conserve energy by getting residents out of their rooms. For more information, visit