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Science Wednesday: The Sustainability Bowl. (Go Team Go!)

2010 November 24

Each week we write about the science behind environmental protection. Previous Science Wednesdays.

By Aaron Ferster

It’s that time of year again. Time for preparations, gathering the appropriate supplies, and making necessary travel arrangements. Naturally, I’m referring to the annual ritual of figuring out what college football team is the best.

By ushering in the holiday season, Thanksgiving Day marks the unofficial beginning of the earnest debate over which handful of college football teams are worthy of consideration for the big-time bowl games that will decide which team is this year’s champion.

But while college football is sure to command gobs of newsprint and hours of sports talk radio over the next six weeks or so, another kind of competition has recently unfolded on campuses across the country to somewhat less fanfare. Instead of athleticism, this one aims to recognize colleges for their sustainability prowess.

According to its web site, “the Campus Conservation Nationals 2010 is a nationwide resource use reduction competition that challenges college and university campuses to achieve the greatest electricity and water use reductions during a 3-week period.”

The contest is sponsored in part by a company founded by a winning team from EPA’s P3 (People, Prosperity and the Planet) competition. The team used their funding awards to develop a “dashboard” system that allows building occupants, such as dorm residents, to wirelessly monitor their electricity and water usage in real-time.

To test their idea, the P3 team pitted two dorms against each other to see who could reduce their energy and water usage the most. As you would expect, when residents were able to keep a close eye on energy use, they were more motivated to conserve.

The idea proved to be a real winner, and the team was able to parlay their success at the EPA P3 sustainable design competition into launching a successful small business. It’s one of several P3 success stories that have not only brought sustainable ideas to the marketplace but helped create jobs.

While a college competition for energy and water consumption savings may not fill a stadium full of spectators, in the long run it could provide just as important a legacy as a national football championship.

About the Author: A science writer-editor in EPA’s Office of Research and Development, Aaron Ferster is also editor of Science Wednesday.

Editor’s Note: The opinions expressed in Greenversations are those of the author. They do not reflect EPA policy, endorsement, or action, and EPA does not verify the accuracy or science of the contents of the blog.

Editor's Note: The opinions expressed here are those of the author. They do not reflect EPA policy, endorsement, or action, and EPA does not verify the accuracy or science of the contents of the blog.

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5 Responses leave one →
  1. armansyahardanis permalink
    November 24, 2010

    Energy versus Chaos.
    Until the future, unlimited, we need “the ceremonious” which to use energy: Idea, planning, steering-organizing committee, progress and sweat and evaluate. It’s natural. But, Its unnatural if their gathering to change to chaos, that means accident, incident and victims. Energy is our habitat, but don’t chaos, because our universes should be explode.

  2. goodluck permalink
    November 25, 2010

    Energy is our habitat, but don’t chaos, because our universes should be explode.

  3. Mr.Takaphan Jaruhungsin permalink
    November 26, 2010

    Dear Sir To Director of EPA.
    This comment I give your Department for a meeting about the mass condition (pollution control).
    And international environment. The seminar will be held up. For settlement
    I knew from the G20 group and institutional analysis of pollution
    I have realized that Happening To control pollution and climate pollution emissions.
    From various factories and communities, as well as about natural disasters.
    Which affect total I think I should find a way to control as much as the large. The source of production.
    Greenhouse gas emissions. Air filters should be released. Thoroughly as possible. Possible.
    Dust is minimal. Caused by burning the least. And ask that you meet
    The aim is the same practices to producers and industrial emissions.
    Know the percentage of pollution in 2009 was thought to be large, it is not quite appropriate.
    Limited and reduced to any more. The improved system The use of renewable energy. Which does not pollute.
    And dust should various campaigns continue. Or replace equipment. Or fuel shall be in
    Clean energy approaches that most Thank you for the transportation system. In production of motor vehicles.
    Using the system to avoid loss of energy and create pollution as a clean alternative energy.
    And free from pollution. The campaign should continue. Both the transportation and manufacturing industries.
    Especially petroleum and gas production. Although there are treatment equipment on the atmosphere.
    It is not enough to air quality in the context of the ecosystem of the human being on this earth to campaign together for the same purpose to restrict and treatment on the sector.
    Producing each unit on the ground or earth To be parallel to the following conditions survey.
    Good weather and more in the future in the balance of the state as much as possible.

    Best wishes from
    Mr.Takaphan Jaruhngsin, ID T201003060025, Public Affairs.
    And Marry Chrismas 2011.

  4. Michael E. Bailey permalink
    November 28, 2010

    This is a great idea. Hopefully, it will be picked up by many college and university campuses and will also have carryover impact when the students go home and after they graduate. This is certainly the kind of new thinking about resources that we need more of.
    I have also been reading some of the presentations that were given at the Transed 2010 International Conference inHong Kong earlier this month. Transed does a yearly international conference looking at the different parts of the transportation system and the accessibility issues of each part for seniors and disabled persons. But in a number of developing countries, there is a new model for transportation that is being developed that does not involve petrolium powered engines. Bicycles are becoming the transportation medium of choice. In Laos, the Japanses and Laos have formed a collaboration tomanufacture, distribute and repair wheelchairs and adult tricylces for disabled persons in the 16 Lao provinces. The trycycles especially are a basic form of transportation for disabled Lao who have no leg strength but do have arm strength. The tricycles operate by pumping a joy stick instead of by foot peddle power. The collaboration has also created and put into production in 2009 a specially designed heavy duty wheelchair made for outside use in rural unimproved areas that can navigate through dirt, sand, gravel, mud, uneven ground, and etc., without problems. This is not like our sports wheelchairs–this is made for outside use in rural areas of developing countries.
    The International Forum for Transport and Development in developing countries is creating bicycle programs in African countries now where bicycles are not only being used for personal transportation but are also being fitted out to serve as ambulances in rural areas where medical and any other form of public transportation had previously been non-existant. Access and use of medical clinics by rural people has increased and health has improved through introduction of the bicycle ambulances. Bicycles are also being fitted out to transport cargo of different kinds and also to serve as bicycle taxis. This is a different non-polluting model of transportation for developing countries that cuts the pollution caused by draft animals as well as that caused by gasoline and diesel engines and helps to create conditions for sustainable rural development and a reduction in poverty. Best wishes, Michael E. Bailey.

  5. Jerry Morgan permalink
    November 29, 2010

    “It’s one of several P3 success stories that have not only brought sustainable ideas to the marketplace but helped create jobs.”

    Great Article I like the idea of mixing conservation with competition. At the end of the day people will go to great lengths to compete and I’m sure that in the future they will remember how they went three weeks using little energy. Great Post .

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