College House Residents Back Pledges to Power Down

January 20, 2011

As Penn students headed off for winter break this December, many took the pledge to turn down, turn off, or unplug appliances in their rooms. Turns out they did more than pledge; their efforts translated into an average 7.2 percent daily reduction in electrical use over the break and nearly 7 percent in savings on the electric bill for the University. 

Thanks to support from Eco-Reps in college houses and Greek chapters, more than 2,000 Penn students living on campus pledged to power down, demonstrating their commitment to energy conservation.  Energy use in the residence halls during the break was compared to the same three-week period last year when baseline data was collected.  During this year’s winter Power Down, students in the college houses that participated last year – Rodin, Hill and Kings Court English House -- registered an average 11.6 percent daily reduction in electricity use per day over last year.  The remaining houses scored a daily reduction of 5.2 percent.  Several Greek chapter houses also participated this year. 

“It helped that some residents were doing this competition for the second time this year,” Dan Garofalo, Penn’s sustainability coordinator, said.  “The PowerDown was run by student leaders in each College House, so being familiar with the idea of turning off appliances and equipment, and shutting windows tightly helped them recruit participants. Ultimately, the entire University benefits from lower utility costs and a reduced impact on the environment.”

To encourage student interest, the Green Campus Partnership made this a contest between the residences, with winners emerging in two categories: the highest number of pledges in college houses measured by percentage and by absolute numbers. Rodin House took home the “most participants” honors with 313 of its 813 residents signing the Power Down pledge, while DuBois house, with a total of 173 residents, achieved a 100 percent pledge rate.  Residents of both houses will receive dessert parties where Green Campus Partnership T-shirts and energy smart strips will be distributed.

The competition has laid the groundwork for more energy conservation efforts to be organized throughout the year


A zero waste event is one in which at least 90% of the waste is diverted from the landfill through enhanced recycling and/or composting efforts.

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