Take Charge Challenge results pending, viewed as a success

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Dear Editor,

The Take Charge Challenge between Manhattan and Lawrence ended Friday. Though we won’t know the official winner until the end of October, we do know that Manhattanites and K-Staters won in the long run. We’ve come away from the challenge as a better, more energy efficient city and campus than when we began in January.

First and foremost, we would like to thank everyone who participated in the challenge. Manhattan residents and K-Staters of all ages played an active role by attending energy saving workshops, stopping by our booths at local events, switching out light bulbs to more efficient types in their homes and businesses and undergoing home audits. We were neck and neck with Lawrence during the entire competition, which would not have been possible without everyone supporting the effort. In addition, all members of the Take Charge Manhattan Leadership Team volunteered many hours to support various activities and efforts.

We would also like to recognize the Greeks Go Green and Students for Environmental Action for their efforts to get the word out to all K-State students. Congrats to Beta Theta Pi and Alpha Xi Delta on winning the fraternity and sorority portion of Manhattan’s Take Charge Challenge. Twelve residence halls also took place in an on-campus competition, resulting in a tie between Derby and Putnam Halls – both achieved a 6 percent reduction in energy use.

As we reflect back on the challenge, it is easy to see the impact the competition has had on our city. During the course of the challenge, Manhattan switched more than 38,000 light bulbs, including more than 3,000 at the university. This has saved over $225,000. Scores of Manhattan residents did energy audits and nearly 700 have new programmable thermostats thanks to Westar’s Wattsaver program. Additionally, approximately 16,000 residents learned more about saving energy over the last nine months. Not only are we saving money though, we are making changes that will benefit Manhattan, Kansas State University and our environment well in the future. We hope that we as Manhattan residents come away from this challenge as more energy-minded people.

While the competition has ended, K-State will continue its efforts toward a more efficient campus. K-State’s Division of Facilities has installed three monitors in select buildings on campus that show energy usage, and additional monitors and energy kiosks are planned for the future. The recent change of outdoor lighting on campus to LEDs is providing an annual savings of $60,000. Software that reduces energy usage in campus computer laboratories has also been installed. In addition, K-State’s Energy and Environment Program and Office of Sustainability are collaborating to develop a Departmental Energy Conservation and Communications Program so that campus departments can help find ways to continue our progress. All of these efforts help reduce our energy costs so we can use those funds on other programs and activities at the university.

Our hope is that as a result of this competition, we all will continue to make changes in our lives that will better our campus, community and environment today and into the future.

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