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Students “Do it in the Dark” to save electricity

By Neil Yonzon

Feb. 18, 2011 1:56 a.m.

Residents on the Hill have pledged to cut down their electricity usage by 10 percent in the Hill’s third annual “Do It in the Dark” competition.

The competition started at the beginning of the month and will last until March 1, when electricity meters at each residence hall will be recorded and compared to the energy consumption rates in January, said Rebecca Miller, sustainability analyst for UCLA Housing and Hospitality Services.

Last year, the program saved 52,980 kilowatt hours of electricity and saved up to $4,400 of utility costs, also doubling the numbers from 2009’s competition.

The competition’s savings last year were small when matched to Housing’s overall utilities expense.

Housing’s budget for utilities for all resident halls is $140,500. This cost does not cover buildings that do not have student rooms in it and dining halls, said Robert Gilbert, sustainability manager for UCLA Housing and Hospitality Services.

There is no way to measure the amount of electricity saved until the end of the month, Miller said.

To pledge, residents must fill out an online form that contains a checklist with different ways to conserve energy.

There were more than 1,500 pledges in last year’s competition and 687 pledges in 2009, according to the UCLA Sustainability website.

According to Miller, the increase in pledges last year was partly because of the Hill’s educational and leadership program, Team Green.

Members of the program helped promote the competition through announcements and knocking on residents’ doors.

For the first time, Housing and Hospitality Services plans to compare energy consumption rates during the competition with rates from future months to see whether students have been keeping up with their energy saving habits, Miller said.

Hitch Suites won last year’s competition with the highest percent of building pledges and energy reduction.

The building that wins this year will receive hundreds of dollars for a party fund.

So far, Sproul Hall has the most pledges,with 100 out of the Hill’s current 1,000.

For the past two weeks, first-year political science and French student Desiree Solorio has been going from room to room, encouraging her floormates to sign up and pledge to participate in the competition.

Since the start of the competition, Solorio has tried her best to save energy. She makes sure the faucet is off while brushing her teeth, and she recently stopped using water bottles.

Under her desk, she has saved countless plastic bags.

Many residents on the Hill said they were saving energy through simple efforts like turning their hallway lights off, using the stairs instead of the elevators, or taking shorter showers.

Jawhara Tariq, a first-year geography and environmental science student, said she cares more about the educational aspect of the competition than winning.

“For me, it’s not about the competition,” Tariq said. “I see it as a reminder that we should use less energy. It’s better for the environment and ultimately (saving energy) affects our future.”

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