posted December 8, 2011

Cottage Competition Emphasizes Sustainability

Less was more in a competition at Hope this fall that emphasized conserving energy. 

The first annual "Cottage Energy Competition" organized by the college's Green Team saw multiple Hope cottages vying for recognition based on the lowest use of electricity for the nearly two months running from Friday, Sept. 30, through Wednesday, Nov. 23.  The contest recognized three houses for the lowest energy use per resident or the biggest reduction in energy use from the same period a year earlier. 
All of the participants were recognized and the winners announced during a wrap-up dinner at Cook Hall on Wednesday, Dec. 7. 
The five-resident DuBois Cottage was honored as the winner for the lowest "per capita" use on the Holland Board of Public Works electric loop, with 76.40 kiloWatt hours per resident, a drop of 16.20 kWh per capita from the year before.  The six-resident Deutsches Haus, second overall, was the winner for the lowest per capita use on the campus electric loop, with 81.00 kWh per capita, a drop of 10.57 kWh from the previous year.  The Spanish House, with seven residents, was third overall with 90.29 per capita, but was the winner for the greatest per-capita decrease, dropping by 24.29 kWh from the previous year. 
A total of seven of the 60 Hope cottages participated in the debut contest.  Based on the success of the pilot event, the Green Team hopes to see the competition expand to include more cottages and potentially residence halls in the future. 
The event is not an end but a means, part of the on-going effort involving students, faculty and staff to reduce the college's energy footprint and make the campus more sustainable.  The Green Team shared energy-saving tips during the competition - such as to use energy-efficient microwaves instead of ovens, to remember to turn off lights, and to perhaps use clotheslines instead of dryers - and surveyed the participants at the dinner to learn their energy-saving strategies as ideas for others to use.