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MIT Unplugged

Dorm contest saves energy.

Modern student life runs on electricity–computers, PDAs, iPods, cell phones, and, of course, lighting for late-night study sessions. But this spring, ­McCormick Hall residents cut their average weekly electricity consumption by 25.95 kilowatt-hours per student, winning the first Dorm Electricity Competition.

With support from the Lab for Energy and Environment, the MIT Energy Club asked students to “walk the talk” of conservation, as President Hockfield puts it, to see which dorm could reduce its energy usage per student the most.

Tufts held a similar event, called “Do It in the Dark,” last fall. But Ariel Esposito ‘09, an organizer of the MIT competition, says she wanted to put an MIT spin on things. Whereas Tufts handed out glow-in-the-dark condoms and threw a pizza party for the winning dorm, McCormick Hall will receive an energy efficiency audit and improvements worth $10,000, courtesy of the MIT Housing Office. Improvements might include a CFC-light-bulb exchange and installation of a real-time electricity consumption monitor that displays usage online.

Students avoided elevators, turned off lights, and, at New House, held a lights-out Ping-Pong tournament using glow-in-the-dark paddles and balls. Overall, dorm electricity consumption decreased by 226,125 kilowatt-hours, saving MIT $13,289.38.

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