This year for Campus Sustainability Week, the Campus Services and the Office of Campus Sustainability sponsored an energy reduction challenge between two of West Campus’s freshmen dorms, Folk and Caldwell. From Monday to Sunday, data was collected on electricity, water, and natural gas usage for each of the dorms. At the end of the week, the data was converted into mmBTU, a measurement of energy usage, and plotted on the graph below.
So who won? If you take a look at the graph, both dorms experienced similar trends in energy usage. Because occupancy of each building is different, the winner cannot be determined by who used more energy. Instead, we looked at daily energy use for each dorm and compared to the average energy use from the same time period last year. This comparison did not yield a clear winner, but both dorms achieved significant decreases in energy use.
There are several important takeaways from this experience. When planning energy reduction challenges, you need a strong and logical baseline to which to compare data. Our baseline was energy data from the same timeframe a year ago, which was not a reliable baseline for comparison. This is for two main reasons- the weather this year was completely different, causing drastic differences in energy usage, and the students who lived in the building last year are different than the ones living there now. Additionally, in order to more effectively measure if there is a pattern of energy reduction, the challenge should be at least a month long. Measuring energy usage over a week is not long enough to confirm statistically significant patterns of energy reduction.
If you are a student wondering what you can do to reduce your energy impact, here’s a few quick tips for you!
- Wash your clothes on cold water.
- Unplug your electronics when you’re not using them.
- Use a reusable water bottle.
You can help make Georgia Tech more sustainable!