Green Cup Challenge encourages students and teachers to reduce electricity usage

Chronicle Staff

By Lara Sokoloff

After reducing Harvard-Westlake’s energy usage by 13 percent during last year’s Green Cup Challenge, the school will enter the competition once again in hopes of reducing the amount of energy consumed on campus, President of the Environmental Club Jessica Barzilay ’12 said.

The contest challenges members of the Green Schools’ Alliance to reduce seven percent of each school’s energy consumption throughout the month of February. Last year, Harvard-Westlake placed fifth in California through the implementation of “Lights out HW,” Barzilay said. The campaign consisted of two main components: turning off lights in rooms that get enough natural light and manually shutting down computers prior to the automatic shut-off time.

This year, the Environmental Club will also enter a video into the Green Cup Challenge, a new component to the “Lights Out HW” campaign. The video was filmed by club member Kevin Adler ’13 as a part of his Video Art I class, and will compete in a contest with other student films across the nation. 

All videos will be posted on YouTube, and students will be able to vote online from Feb. 4-18.

In order to calculate our percent energy usage reduction, Environmental Club supervisor Martha Wheelock, Adler, Barzilay and club member Demren Sinik ’13 will read the electrical meters every Friday and compute our weekly electrical use. This number is then compared to a baseline average based on the last three years, which was calculated by Barzilay using the school’s utility bills, she said.

There is no true prize or winner of the competition, Barzilay said. Schools are instead ranked within regions based on percent of energy usage reduction. There are, however, underlying financial benefits to participating in the competition, Barzilay said.

“Every school wins financially since reducing energy use lowers utility costs, saving hundreds of dollars,” she said.

Participating schools also receive an Arbor Day Foundation Plaque to honor their contribution to carbon dioxide reduction.

The club will host an environmental project, inform students of the climate crisis and distribute glow in the dark stickers Jan. 31 during break to launch the Green Cup Challenge, Barzilay said.

The support for the Green Cup Challenge has increased immensely over the past year, providing feedback and new ideas to the club, Barzilay said.

“It’s been really encouraging to hear suggestions and enthusiasm from the community,” Barzilay said.