Straus, Mather Top Turkeys in Energy Saving Contest

By doing nothing more complicated than taking a minute to complete an online pledge and flip off a computer switch, students in Mather House and Straus Hall have been declared victorious in a College-wide competition to reduce energy consumption over Thanksgiving Break.

The Go Cold Turkey campaign, sponsored by the Faculty of Arts and Sciences’ Computer Energy Reduction Program (CERP), encouraged students to sign a pledge promising they would turn off their electronic appliances over the break to conserve resources.

Mather led the House competition with 45 percent participation, collecting 187 pledges. Leverett placed second among the Houses with 44 percent participation, collecting 197 pledges.

Straus led the first-year dorms with 51 percent participation, securing 49 pledges.

“I’m really, really happy with the results,” said CERP Manager Antje M. Danielson. About 2,000 students—a quarter of the students at the College—made the pledge.


The campaign’s goal was to make students more aware of their energy consumption, not just to urge them to turn off their computers during Thanksgiving break, said Rachelle K. Gould ’03, student co-captain of the Resource Efficiency Program (REP), which co-sponsored the campaign.

Allison I. Rogers ’04, a REP representative from Mather, e-mailed each person in her House the Monday before Thanksgiving to encourage participation in the pledge effort.

“I just got an awesome response. Everyone was open to doing it, and the pledge itself took like two seconds,” she said.

Students said the campaign was easy to participate in, especially since turning off computers during the break required little effort.

For this year’s competition, CERP planned to use results from residences’ electric meter readings as one half of the tally and pledge numbers as the other half, Danielson said.

Metering was done by University Operations Services, which measured electricity consumption. Meters were read three times—before, during and after Thanksgiving break—to compare usage during normal term-time activity with a period when most students were gone.

There may have been two misreadings, Danielson said, so less emphasis was ultimately placed on the metering to determine the winner.

As a prize for winning, Mather students will receive a study break.

A similar energy conservation competition was held last year, in which only pledges were tallied to determine a winner. Leverett took first place last year.

This year’s campaign ran into a few difficulties in first-year dorms, since there are three student resource efficiency representatives for the entire Yard, whereas each House has its own representative.