The Spring 2012 Green Games are underway at UMass and the environmental competition has begun! This nine-week initiative challenges students to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions and increase their sustainability awareness in areas such as resource depletion and conservation.
Six teams are formed by residence area, including Sylvan, Northeast, Orchard Hill, Central, Southwest North, and Southwest South. This includes 23 residence halls that together represent over 9,000 students living on campus. These teams are scored on their weekly challenges in energy and water reduction and sustainability awareness. Residents can view their teams progress on a number of touch screen dashboards that will be installed in some of the dining halls, academic buildings, and student activity buildings to show how much electricity, CO2, heating, and water their residence halls and other buildings on campus are using each week. Challenges and events include recycling events, energy conservation, guest speakers, and viewings of green movies. A most recent challenge has been a competition to reduce computer use, a method that significantly decreases energy output. Social media is the main source for sustainability awareness points. Participants earn points for uploading popular green photos and videos, along with posting links to green articles. The more likes these uploads get, the more points a team receives and the greater awareness that is spread.
The student-run residence Hall Association (RHA) has also played a crucial role in the Green Games as Campus Sustainability Manager Ezra Small explains.
“The RHA is even rewarding points to each cluster area for participating in the games for their coveted Cluster of the Year Award competition,” said Small. “These games bring together sustainability staff with the residence hall student leadership as well as with Residence Life operations staff and administration.” This team effort between dual student organizations has made the Green Games possible and spread the effort on a large-scale level. The UMass Physical Plant has hired on recent graduate and former Campus Sustainability Energy Coordinator Samantha Willis who is working with the team leaders in the RHA to increase Green Games participation across the campus.
After the conclusion of spring recess, these teams will have three final weeks to continue their green efforts and accumulate more points. The winners will then be announced during the week of April 9th. As of March 14th, Team Northeast is in the lead with 282,439 points, followed by Orchard Hill in second place and Central rounding out the top three. Current point standings can be viewed online along with an online energy kiosk that works similarly to the touch screen dashboards on campus.
Says Small, “The Green Games will hopefully make sustainability tangible and fun for students and drastically increase the number of students participating in sustainability efforts on campus.” So far, the competition has seemed to be an incentive students appreciate.