When Millersville University (MU) first introduced ‘Ville Unplugged in 2016, friendly competition with the other Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education (PASSHE) schools encouraged the University to save over 100,000 kiloWatt hours and $7,000 during the three-week energy conservation campaign.
Although the PASSHE Unplugged competition will not continue this year, MU decided to continue its conservation campaign, and to revamp it.
“Our biggest goal is to get faculty, staff and students interested in, and understanding the benefits of, energy conservation,” says MU’s Sustainability Manager Chris Steuer.
The 2017 version of ‘Ville Unplugged will take place from April 9-30 and includes competitions between residence halls and classroom buildings as MU enters the greater Campus Conservation Nationals campaign. A new Energy Dashboard will show real-time electricity use for East, West and South Village, as well as seven of the larger classroom buildings. The classroom and residence hall that save the most energy will each receive a trophy and bragging rights.
“In the past year, we completed a sizeable upgrade to our campus’s electrical infrastructure. As part of that upgrade we installed meters on our 40 largest campus buildings to monitor their usage individually,” Steuer explains. “This allows all faculty, staff and students to see how much electricity these buildings are using so that they can see the real-time benefits of energy conservation.”
Throughout April, the University’s newly established student Sustainability Ambassadors will run tables stationed at the South Village Patio on Sundays from 4-6 p.m. and the Student Memorial Center Juice Bar on Thursdays from 12-1 p.m. to raise awareness and clarify common misunderstandings about campus energy use. At those tables, students can participate in activities ranging from signing the Energy Decision Maker Pledge to measuring the energy use of common devices such as computers and chargers to be entered to win prizes and be certified as Energy Change Makers.
Members of the Millersville community are encouraged to share their energy-saving ideas, actions and experiences on social media using the hashtag #SustainMyVille during the three-week campaign and also throughout the year.
The mindset behind ‘Ville Unplugged extends far past those three weeks. Steuer references the University’s goal to go carbon neutral by 2040 through the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions.
“About 65 percent of our greenhouse gas emissions come from the energy used within our buildings so reducing building energy use is a priority in our Climate Action Plan,” he says. “Faculty, staff and students have a lot of control over energy use in our buildings. Little things like shutting off lights and projectors when not in use or using natural light where possible go a long way to helping us save energy. Doing so has so many benefits. It saves energy, greenhouse gas emissions and dollars.”
Despite the exciting additions to ‘Ville Unplugged, the campaign’s biggest achievement will not be immediately visible. Instead, they will play out over the coming years as members of the Millersville community who take steps towards energy conservation contribute to a sustainable future.
To learn more about sustainability at Millersville University, go to: www.millersville.edu/sustainability.