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During the month of October, students living in residence halls at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville, competed in the seventh annual POWER Challenge to see which hall could reduce the most waste, conserve the most energy, and best promote sustainability on campus.

The results have now been tallied and the winner is…the Apartment Residence Hall.

Apartment Residence Hall residents celebrated their victory with the grand prize: the POWER (Programs of Water, Energy, and Recycling) Challenge cup and a catered food party, co-sponsored by the United Resident Hall Council and the Office of Sustainability.

Power Challenge
Students in Morrill Hall ask their neighbors to help save water by pledging to take shorter showers.

Overall efforts by student residents to use less energy and resources during the POWER Challenge resulted in energy savings in excess of $36,000.

“The challenge was an amazing achievement with many green successes in the residence halls,” said Courtney Washburn, AmeriCorps member and sustainability outreach coordinator.

Notable challenge achievements included volunteers collecting eight tons of recyclables, more than $21,000 in wastewater savings, and almost $7,500 in water savings. The amount of water saved could fill Neyland Stadium to a depth of six feet.

These figures are based on a comparison of energy and resource use from this past October and October 2008.

On October 13, a light bulb exchange in all residence halls resulted in students swapping 460 incandescent light bulbs for new CFL bulbs. This particular event is expected to save the campus approximately $7,300 in energy consumption, or 77,000 kWh, for the next nine months. CFL bulbs use one-fifth the energy of incandescent bulbs and last six to ten times longer on average.

In addition to measuring savings, students in the residence halls were encouraged to create and participate in fun, interactive events.

“Eco-Vols, RAs, and hall directors did a fantastic job. There were more hall and floor programs this year than in the past, which is an important component of the challenge. I was very impressed with everyone’s creativity and enthusiasm,” said Washburn.

Sustainability ideas included a lights-out event at Laurel Hall, a short-shower pledge campaign at Morrill Hall, and a green trivia game at the Apartment Residence Hall.

To mark National Sustainability Day on October 26, fifty residents attended the Black Out Bash. Attendees turned off their dorm room lights for an hour and carved pumpkins by moonlight in Presidential Courtyard.

For information on other Make Orange Green programs and initiatives, including sustainable living tips, visit


Courtney Washburn (865.974.7780,