Net Impact Chapters Rise to the Campus Greening Challenge
Net Impact chapters on campuses across the country have been competing hard since November to design and implement a campus greening initiative of their choice. From green roof installation to recycling and composting programs, the ideas generated during the 2012 xpedx Campus Greening Challenge have proven just how effective strategic thinking and hard work can be in shrinking a university’s environmental footprint.
The challenge, in partnership with leading paper distributor xpedx, helps lower the environmental impact of U.S. campuses, and gives students the chance to educate and engage on-campus facilities managers and fellow students. The folks at xpedx put $1,000 in prize money on the line, and judged the projects on effectiveness, creativity, and scalability.
Check out the winning projects below:
First place winner: Net Impact MIIS
The Big Idea: Reduce carbon emissions and create institutional policies that will favor energy efficiency upgrades and reduce water consumption on campus.
How They Did It: By working with facilities and the school’s Sustainability Council, the team identified over-lit areas on campus and permanently removed 350 light bulbs and replaced 24 with improved, super T-8 bulbs. Additionally, the team upgraded faucets on campus to low-flow for a very small cost.
The Impact: The light bulb replacements saved an estimated 39,783 kWh per year (that’s over 8,000 kilograms of CO2). This amounts to an annual savings of $5,730 – a 3% reduction of the Institute’s total usage from the previous year. The low-flow faucet installations saved the campus about 1,000 gallons of water every day.
Now What? The team is already exploring how to invest their prize money in additional energy efficiency upgrades on campus, including the possible implementation of a "building dashboard" system to monitor energy usage in real time. In addition to tracking the team’s sustainability goals, the system would help educate the campus community about their energy usage.
Runner-up: Net Impact Texas State Undergrad
The Big Idea: Design a project plan to conduct energy audits for small to medium-sized businesses within the community and 41 small and medium-sized buildings on campus.
How They Did It: By building an alliance with the Chamber of Commerce, the Greater San Marcos Partnership, the City of San Marcos, business community leaders and university administration, the team developed a community-wide initiative to lower energy usage and save money. The team honed their pitch before business professors for feedback and used business names and photographs in their marketing materials to gain community support and student volunteers.
The Impact: Performing the audits at no cost will amount to a campus and community savings of at least $66,800.
Special Recognition Award for Marketing:
Net Impact University of Iowa
How They Did It: By consulting experts in and outside the university, the team collected information about the necessary investment, ideas for financing, and information on potential energy savings. The team then developed a creative social media campaign to promote the roof during its construction and opening phases to involve the university community.
The Impact: In addition to a 25% savings in heating and cooling for the part of building covered by the roof, Facilities Management is currently talking about using the roof as a learning center for youth in the greater Iowa City area. The project also opened doors for the chapter to collaborate with like-minded student organizations on campus, such as the UI Environmental Coalition and UI Sierra Club, opening the door for future joint projects.
Net Impact and xpedx congratulate all the competing chapter teams, and their schools, for working so hard to make a difference.