(January 18, 2011)

Contact: Rick DelaHaya, Centenary News Services, 318.869.5073

Centenary College kicks off Energy Challenge 2011

SHREVEPORT, La. (Centenary News Service) — "Sustainability" and "carbon footprints" are the new millennial buzz words, and for good reason. Around the world individuals, educational institutions and businesses are working to live conscientiously, thinking about how today's behaviors impact the future of our planet and its inhabitants.

Energy Challenge 2011

At the beginning of 2010, the Centenary College community was challenged to reduce its energy consumption through simple and free or low-cost actions. An agreement was made between administrators and the Centenary College Sustainability Task Force that 10 percent of the total savings would go to fund future sustainability efforts.

One year later, the College has saved close to $100,000 in energy costs.

"I think congratulations are warranted for the entire Centenary community for being such great stewards of a sustainable planet," said Dr. Jeanne Hamming, associate professor of English and member of the campus sustainability task force. "What this means is that sustainability programs on campus will have additional funding to promote bigger movements towards energy conservation and carbon neutrality."

According to Dr. Hamming, the College reduced their energy costs in part through an increased awareness on campus, with members of the campus community remembering to do simple things, such as turning off lights in empty rooms and shutting down computers in labs when not in use.

Malari Coburn, a senior English major minoring in Environmental Studies, has been involved in sustainability efforts on campus for the past few years, including Chains for Change, has held the position of president of the Centenary Environmental Association and served as "green consultant" for the Homecoming committee. She feels that the Energy Challenge is an important reminder that everyone on campus can make a difference to saving energy costs.

"If the campus community thought about the College's energy bill as their own energy bill, they might be more willing to take the extra steps to help reduce costs," she said. "It is as simple as turning off computers when they are not in use, open the blinds instead of using an overhead light, or unplug a cell phone charger from the wall socket once the phone is charged. All these actions reduce the energy bill which ultimately saves the College money."

Besides the simple acts of turning off lights and computers, there were also larger measures that helped in the reduction of costs. One example was changing the way lighting was used in the Fitness Center. Motion sensors were placed in the racquetball courts to turn off the lights when not in use.

"People who have heard about our success with last year's challenge have responded with surprise," added Dr. Hamming. "In fact, I was surprised myself. I think last year's challenge proves that even the smallest changes can add up to big savings if we all work together."

A percentage of the money saved will now be reinvested back into the sustainability program on campus. Suggestions have already been made such expanding the solar array on the roof of the Magale Library or adding a second array to another building. Other suggestions include adding motion sensors to faucets to conserve water and motion-sensing lights to classrooms and other common spaces. A survey has been sent to the campus community asking for any and all recommendations on how to reinvest the funds.

"The Energy Challenge is meant to remind members of our campus community that "going green" is a double entendre," she said. "It means reducing greenhouse gas emissions, conserving water, and reducing pollution, but it also means saving money for the college. And as we saw with last year's energy challenge, that money can be reinvested in increasing our energy savings going forward."

With the success of the first challenge, Centenary has already launched the 2011 Energy Challenge earlier this month. The aim is to make this year's challenge bigger and better by funding sustainability initiatives across campus.

"My hope for the 2011 challenge is to match or exceed last year's savings," Dr. Hamming said. "If we can sustain this level of concentration for a few years, I think we'll begin to see a real transformation at the college, both in terms of the culture and in terms of the college's energy infrastructure."

Coburn agrees. "Last year we saved close to $100,000 in energy costs. This year, with a little more effort, I would like to challenge the campus to save an additional $25,000 in 2011. We've proven we could do it before and I know we can do it again!"

For more information on the 2011 Energy Challenge, visit www.centenary.edu/energy.

About Centenary College of Louisiana

Centenary College is a private, four-year arts and sciences college affiliated with the United Methodist Church. Founded in 1825, it is the oldest chartered liberal arts college west of the Mississippi River and is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools. Centenary is one of 16 colleges and universities constituting the Associated Colleges of the South and has been recognized as "One of the Best 371 Colleges" by the Princeton Review and one of "America's Best Colleges" and one of "America's Best Private Colleges" by Forbes.com. In 2008 Centenary College celebrated 100 years in Shreveport and Bossier City.