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TKB Fraternity Wins 'WC/ECC Energy Savings Challenge'

Frat House Demonstrates the Most Significant Drop in Electric and Natural Gas Usage among Selected Fraternity and Sorority Houses

May 8, 2013

The Tau Kappa Beta House on Quaker Way experienced the greatest amount of energy savings.

The Tau Kappa Beta House on Quaker Way experienced the greatest amount of energy savings.

Wilmington College fraternity Tau Kappa Beta won the 2013 “WC/ECC Energy Savings Challenge.” The organization received a $300 award from Energize Clinton County.

The challenge—to demonstrate the most significant drop in electric and natural gas usage among selected fraternity and sorority houses—ran from February through April and was tracked via Dropoly.com.

The program involved a coordinated effort on the part of student residents in seven houses on the Wilmington College campus, homes to fraternity and sorority members as well as those living in two “eco houses.” In February, total energy data from 2012 were entered for each house into Dropoly.com, an interactive energy efficiency game that gives users the power to measure, manage, and reduce their energy consumption.

“The benefits of this challenge were two-fold. We wanted to engage in an alpha test of the Dropoly system, but also to prompt conversations among students about excessive energy consumption,” said Corey Cockerill, assistant professor of communication arts and ECC board member. “The challenge among the campus houses made it more like a game.”

Residents of the campus houses involved in this year’s challenge received a $50 grant from ECC to invest in energy-reducing tools or gadgets. Most reported using the funds to purchase low-flow shower heads and faucets, florescent light bulbs, or smart power strips, which automatically power down devices that go into standby mode.

“The guys in the house didn’t have to work very hard to save energy. They just did all the simple things. When they knew they would be gone, they would turn off the lights and the TV. Things that weren’t being used just got unplugged,” said Gus Sevastos, WC junior and Greek assessment chair for Tau Kappa Beta.

In total, the TKB house residents reduced their energy consumption by 1,796 kilowatt hours and reduced their CO2 production by 850 kilograms—a carbon footprint made shallow in a very short period of time.

ECC co-founder and director of the Wilmington-Clinton County Chamber of Commerce, Mark Rembert, predicted early on the cost savings would likely come from changes in attitudes and behaviors.

“These often minor lifestyle changes can have a major impact on energy use,” said Rembert.
The college hopes to expand the challenge to the student-occupied apartments on campus in the fall of 2013.

“This is just a nice reminder that living a more environmentally-responsible life isn’t a big change, just a few little ones here and there,” said Sevastos.

ECC, as a partner with the Clinton County Regional Planning Commission, recently received the National Planning Achievement Award for Innovation in Economic Planning and Development from the American Planning Association (APA). ECC’s energy efficiency efforts are supported in part by a grant from the Toyota/Audubon TogetherGreen Fellowship program.