A year after The Argus originally reported that the Wesleyan Student Assembly (WSA) was holding a contest to encourage students to develop money- and energy-saving ideas, the competition is now underway. The Energy Conservation Showdown (ECS) Prize is now accepting proposals designed to save the University money by reducing its carbon footprint. Six members of the faculty and staff will act as judges in the competition that will take place in March.

“This is an idea that has been around for a while—we tried to execute it last year for the spring semester, but we couldn’t get our act together,” said Vice President for Finance and Administration John Meerts, who is one of the judges for the competition. “This is another try. Hopefully it will be better this time.”

The Prize, which is being spearheaded by WSA Finance and Facilities Committee Chair Ben Firke ’12, will give a cash prize of $600 to the students with the winning idea and $200 each to two runners-up. Last year, Firke and Chris Goy ’09, former Chair of the Student Budget Committee, had planned to award over $5,000 in prize money to the winning ideas. This year, though, the SBC, which is funding the prize, has limited the amount.

In order to enter the competition, teams of students must submit a report at least three pages in length, laying out their proposal to the ECS-Prize Faculty Adviser, Assistant Professor of Earth and Environmental Sciences Dana Royer. After reading the proposal, Royer can provide feedback and suggestions for improvement. By March 1, students must submit their final proposal.

The judges—Meerts, Associate Vice President for Facilities Joyce Topshe, Vice President for University Relations Barbara-Jan Wilson, Associate Director of Utilities Management Peter Staye, Director of Environmental Health, Safety and Sustainability Bill Nelligan, and Director of Environmental Studies Barry Chernoff—will judge the submissions based on their “financial conservation,” “environmental conservation,” and “practicality,” according to the ECS-Prize website.

“After the winners are announced, we’re going to have a docket of ideas—the three prize winners and a bunch of meritorious runners up—that’s going to get forwarded to President Roth,” Firke said. “It’s going to have a sort of implicit stamp of approval from Physical Plant because many of the judges work there.”

Meerts is hopeful that the selected proposals will be practical and successfully enacted by the Administration.

“Given my position at the University, depending on what ideas come from this—which we may or may not have thought about ourselves—the question is: can we implement those?” he said. “I definitely hope there are some ideas that we haven’t thought about and that we can, in fact, implement them.”

Royer said he believes that the most successful ideas will come from students committed to both the implementation and subsequent maintenance of their proposals.

“I would imagine a lot of it can come down to the involvement of the students and how far they want to see the execution of [their idea],” he said. “Universities are great breeding grounds for that—students can do pretty amazing things in this environment which outside the University would be much more difficult.”

Meerts said he is unsure what to expect of the submissions.

“There might be a brilliant idea but maybe we can’t afford it right now, or maybe there are five ideas and we can afford them all,” Meerts said.

While Firke has optimistic predictions for this year’s competition, he also hopes that the competition will continue to encourage further innovation in the future.

“It’s the first year we’ve done with this so we don’t know exactly what this will look like,” he said. “If it works this year, I don’t see [why we wouldn’t continue it]. Hopefully we’ll find ways to ease the budget deficit and lessen our carbon footprint and won’t have to do this more than a few times.”

To find out more about the ECS-Prize, visit the Finance and Facilities Committee page of the WSA website at: http://wsa.wesleyan.edu/committees/finance-and-facilities-committee/ecs-prize/. To submit a proposal, email wesleyanecsprize@gmail.com.

Comments are closed