CWRU Unplugged: Sustainability contest underway


Shreyas Banerjee/The Observer

Excessive electricity use in residence halls and Greek housing is just one reason why The Office of Energy and Sustainability’s sustainability contest is necessary for reducing CWRU’s carbon footprint.

Sarah Karkoff, Staff Writer

From Nov. 1-15, Case Western Reserve University’s Office of Energy and Sustainability (OES) is running a residence hall and Greek house sustainability contest, dubbed CWRU Unplugged. The Office of Energy and Sustainability hosts CWRU Unplugged each year in an attempt to promote more sustainable energy usage practices. This annual competition has occurred since 2015 with last years’ winner being the Alumni House, reducing their energy consumption by 4.56%. For their efforts, the entirety of the building was rewarded with Insomnia Cookies. 

In order to participate, students who reside in CWRU residence halls or Greek housing can sign the Sustainability Pledge, promising to lower energy consumption in their building. If you live off campus, you can still participate by signing up for the Sustainability Pledge in which you have the possibility of winning a prize. 

The residence hall or Greek house that wins will have the largest number of points. Points are determined by the amount of students who sign the pledge and the reduction in electricity usage. It is possible to observe the energy dashboard of your building to see up-to-date information regarding energy consumption. 

The CWRU Unplugged contest is in line with the 2011 CWRU Climate Action Plan. In 2011, CWRU committed to moving towards becoming a carbon-neutral campus. In essence, the plan is to create a net-zero carbon footprint for the university within the next few decades. Former President Barbara Snyder stated, “To say this goal is ambitious represents the height of understatement. But this institution will not embrace anything less.” As for the 2020 Climate Action Plan Update, CWRU is currently up to date with their initial environmental goals of reducing greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions by 20%. The next actionable goal is to reach 50% GHG emissions reduction by 2030. By participating in CWRU Unplugged, students can help CWRU create a more carbon-neutral campus. 


The Sustainability Pledge offers students some ways that they can be more sustainable in their daily lives. In terms of reducing energy, students can turn off the lights in their common area when no one is around, take public transportation whenever possible and unplug any electronics that are not in use. For reducing waste, students are encouraged to avoid single-use plastics, print everything double-sided and avoid any unnecessary printing, use reusable bags and donate old clothes instead of throwing them out. Recycling and becoming familiar with the campus recycling policy is yet another good way for students to reduce their environmental impact. Finally, OES encourages students to be active about the sustainability issues that are important to them—this includes voting in general elections, signing petitions, attending protests and anything else that makes student voices heard.


More tips can be found on the website for the Office of Energy and Sustainability. 

The winning building will be announced on Nov. 16 and will be awarded with a pizza party for its residents. However, even if your building does not win, individual prizes are still available. Raffle prizes for signing the Sustainability Pledge include gift cards, zero-waste kits with tote bags, reusable silverware, beeswax wraps and more.