And the winner is....the University of Maryland, College Park (UMCP) has won the nationwide contest, America's Greenest Campus. The contest challenged colleges to compete against each other to reduce their carbon footprints. UMCP took the prize for the school with the most participants with 2,257 participants and Rio Salado College won for the school with the most carbon reductions per participant, with more than 524 students participating and reducing their CO2 emissions on average by 4.40 percent.
It is the first competition to measure the impact of everyday actions of campus community members, America's Greenest Campus began on March 31st, with support from its national spokesperson, hip-hop mogul Russell Simmons.
Over 460 schools and 20,000 students, faculty and alumni participated in the contest, reducing nearly 19 million pounds of CO2 from the environment, saving 28 million gallons of water and conserving 4.5 million kilowatts of electricity.
"We are extremely proud that the University of Maryland won the America's Greenest Campus contest. Young people have the power to transform the world when it comes to energy and climate change and this competition was a great way of empowering our campus community to take action to reduce our carbon footprint," says student organizer Joanna Calabrese. "We mobilized over 2,000 students to get involved, and we know we can do even more. But this was a great start."
America's Greenest Campus is a partnership between SmartPower, the nation's leading clean energy and energy efficiency marketing organization, and Climate Culture, the premier online carbon measurement and reduction utility, with support from the U.S. Department of Energy and partnerships with leading youth environmental groups such as the National Wildlife Federation, the Sierra Student Coalition and the National Association of Environmental Law Societies.
"More than ever, young people are concerned about their impact on the environment and eager to improve their daily habits, and we created the America's Greenest Campus contest to provide a forum for that," says Tom Scaramellino, CEO of Efficiency 2.0, an energy efficiency startup that operates Climate Culture. "At 20,000 participants, this is the largest, most successful environmental contest ever among college students. We're so pleased with the results, we're gearing up for a second contest to take place in 2010."
The America's Greenest Campus contest also included the SmartPower Energy Smart Online Ad Challenge, which called for video submissions that promote the economic and environmental benefits of energy efficiency, for a $10,000 prize. The winning video will be announced December 5, 2009 and will be used in SmartPower's national advertising.
"Young people today are the largest wasters of energy in society, and through America's Greenest Campus, they are literally learning how to change their energy behavior," says Brian F. Keane, President of SmartPower. "Where they were once part of the climate problem -- now they are rapidly becoming a key part of the solution, learning how to conserve energy and change their behavior. They are leading the way -- and AGC is helping them get there!"
With their $5,000 winnings in hand, the University of Maryland will be providing support to their "Engaged University" program, a model community designed to influence the way the campus thinks about and engages in sustainable living and demonstrates the economic, social, and environmental benefits of long term sustainability.
Writer: Walaika Haskins