College House Energy Competition

College House Energy Competition


A managed competition for energy reduction and behavior change in select College Houses.

The Energy Showdown hosted its first competition in the Spring 2010 semester. The Fels graduate students met with the deans of Harrison and Rodin and with Penn Environmental Group students to discuss the competition and the best avenues for getting the word out about energy conservation. A kick-off Sunday brunch with Katherine Gajewski, Director of Sustainability for the City of Philadelphia and attended by about 40 students launched the competition. The Showdown project team ran several outreach events during the competition, such as tabling at Spring Fling and Greenfest.  As part of the competition, students were asked to sign an Energy Pledge and complete an Energy Awareness Pledge. In this first round of the competition which lasted one week, Harrison College House was able to achieve a 6.71% reduction vs. the baseline period, while Rodin achieved a 2.51% reduction.

The second round of the Penn Energy Showdown was held in the Fall 2010 semester between Rodin, Harrison, and Harnwell. The competition period was expanded to two weeks, as this was considered in the relevant professional literature to be the optimum duration. Additionally, the competition was selected as a project for Wharton’s Management 100 class, which provided ten freshmen business students to help administer the competition and increased the opportunities for promotion and face-time with College House residents. Promotional events were organized to gather support for the competition. While the project team managed to collect 846 Energy Pledges, this commitment was not reflected in the house energy use data. Only Harrison realized the targeted 5 percent reduction in energy consumption, Harnwell’s decrease was minimal, while Rodin increased their use by 1.7 percent during the competition period.

Green Campus Partnership staff met with the project team in January 2011 to discuss improvements to the competition and determine goals for the final competition found, between Harrison and Rodin, in the Spring.  It was recommended that the project team work more closely with RAs/GAs to get program support and to target residents on a floor by floor basis through promotional events. Both houses agreed to present the latest standings on lobby monitors and throughout the college house. The chart below shows the outcome of the Final Spring 2011 competition. While Harrison won the Final competition, both College Houses beat their previous reduction numbers.

Green Fund Summary Report: College House Energy Competition

Project Leader: 
Mateo Rando, MGA Candidate, Fels Institute of Govermnent Associate
Project Sponsor: 
David B. Thornburgh, Executive Director, Fels Institute of Government