Saving Energy and Water: Now, a College Sport
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By leveraging social media, a national campus competition helps students turn small commitments into large-scale change. Combining social media with intercollegiate competition provides two forms of motivation: it shows participant... By combining a sophisticated energy dashboard with social media, the competition aims to both challenge and inspire students to make a difference in their own dorms and classrooms. Colleges and universities need to sign up by November 1 , and the actual competition will take place from February 6 through April 23, 2012. Why focus on individuals? BuildingGreen has been around for 20 years now, and for most of that time, the focus of the green building community has been primarily on design and construction: how can we design, build, and retrofit our buildings and communities so they perform better? The humans who live and work in our buildings have been a lesser--some might say nonexistent--focus. But in the past five years or so, the green building community has started to wake up to a very important fact: no matter how well we design a building or plan a retrofit, the occupants hold the keys to environmental performance. "Occupant engagement" As the buildings themselves have become more efficient, the building occupants' role in achieving sustainability goals has increased. Occupant engagement--the art of combining social science and building science to motivate individuals to save energy and water, reduce waste, and contribute to indoor environmental quality--has started to emerge as an ever-more-important field of research and action. This is such an important emerging topic that our November Environmental Building News feature article on occupant engagement will be free to everyone, whether you're a BuildingGreen member or not. Occupying our buildings more mindfully While I, like many people, often despair at the vast discrepancy between my small individual actions and the need for mass collective action, projects like the Campus Conservation Nationals not only inspire me but also show me the immense power of individual action--once I can visualize it as part of a larger effort. Not all of us can leave our jobs, classrooms, or homes to occupy Wall Street full time, but we can all do a better job of occupying our built environment. Whether you're a college student or not, what commitments--small or large--make you feel like you're doing your part? How do you visualize and evaluate your success, and what motivates you to do more?