The Energy Challenge, a competition held between Minnesota schools for the past three Februarys, has been turned into a national event. According to Christian Balzer '08, students received funds from the Environmental Studies Dept. to design a website and print out publicity flyers, which were handed out at Powershift 2007, a youth summit on climate change held Nov. 2, 2007 in Washington, D.C. St. Olaf is competing in the National Campus Energy Challenge against 93 other schools, including three in Canada and one in Australia.
On the Hill, the campus Environmental Coalition has spread awareness about the National Campus Energy Challenge in various ways, including displays around campus. Perhaps the ultimate publicity event, which highlights the fact that St. Olaf has beat Carleton in the Energy Challenge for three years in a row, is the "caf raid." In a raid, a St. Olaf and a Carleton mascot appear in Stav Hall to fight each other. Other events planned for the month included a public symposium on the Green Movement, an environmental film showing Tuesday, Feb. 26 and an acoustic concert in Buntrock Commons on Feb. 29.
Balzer's hope for the challenge is "that people will use both the threat of global warming, the amazing prospect of beating Carleton and to take on simple habits to conserve energy." He added, "This can be as easy as always unplugging power strips and electric devices when not in use to stop drawing unnecessary electricity. You can make sure that unused lights are always turned off--both in your dorm room and in public areas such as classrooms, laundry rooms, kitchens and bathrooms. Turning down the heat in your room and wearing more layers is another great thing to do. Plus, you'll sleep better."
Some of these tips, such as turning off the lights and turning down the heat when possible were illustrated by many of the slogans used in advertising, such as "do it in the dark," "unplug it," "shower with a buddy" and "turn down the heat, turn up the love."
Balzer and Lisa Foster '09 have suggestions for students interested in getting involved. Anyone interested in youth climate activism, both in the U.S. and internationally, can go to www.itsgettinghotinhere.org for ways to get involved. On campus, Balzer suggests students join the Environmental Coalition by emailing email@example.com. He also encourages students who are passionate about these or other political issues to contact their senators and representatives. "One letter, email or phone call can make a difference," Balzer said.
For more information about the National Campus Energy Challenge, Foster advises students to check the website designed by John van der Linden'10: www.climatechallenge.org/ncec.