The Annual 5C PowerDown

Every year, the 5C’s compete in an energy conservation challenge called PowerDown. Before the competition begins, a 2-week baseline of energy consumed on each campus is taken. Using this data, the goal of the competition is to reduce electricity consumption by the largest percentage. A monetary prize is given to the college that reduced consumption by the most, and if Mudd wins, the prize is split between the top two “powered down” dorms.

So what are some ways that students power down at Mudd? A common way I have seen is working together in common spaces at night to reduce light energy, which some of the Sontag frosh have been doing by congregating on the east side of the lounge in the evenings. Another thing Mudders have been doing is turning off individual room heaters and using more blankets instead. Usually, it is warmer out in Southern California than it has been lately, so students spend more time studying, eating, or exercising outside during the day. And to reduce energy consumption during the competition (though not necessarily reducing overall energy consumption throughout the year), some people wait to do laundry until the competition has ended.

SoCal has gone back to being sunny and warm this week, so I spent a couple of hours working outside in front of Shan.

Aside from sparking the efforts of students to reduce power consumption in their daily lives, PowerDown has also created opportunities to talk about sustainability within the college. For example, Case hosted an event on Saturday for Mudders to come together and brainstorm ways to make our campus and dorms greener. This event also included a fun activity of designing a new dorm for the campus that is sustainably designed.*

Sign making at the event at Case! We mostly made signs about turning off lights as a way to reduce power consumption in the dorms.

One of the signs made at Case.

Though the competition is only a few weeks out of the academic year, it is a good way to increase awareness about ways to maintain a sustainable lifestyle. Luckily, Mudd is located in Southern California and requires a lot of student collaboration, so Mudders can normally spend a lot of time doing outdoor activities and working together, which are great ways to reduce power consumption.

*Fun Fact: Drinkward, the newest dorm on campus, is LEED certified, meaning that the U.S. Green Building Council has dubbed its design as energy efficient and environmentally sensitive. You can read about it Green Design of Harvey Mudd Residence Hall Merits LEED Silver.