Every idea counts

Five residence halls at the University of Georgia are preparing to face off in the name of sustainable living. Students in the Hill Community halls of Hill, Church, Boggs, Mell and Lipscomb have four weeks to prove that their dormitories deserve to win the third annual Green Cup Challenge.

Hosted by the UGA Office of Sustainability and University Housing, the Green Cup Challenge rewards points to residence halls based on the energy and water they save compared to previous years, the resources they recycle and their participation in sustainability-related events.

“The annual competition has proven to be successful in teaching sustainable living practices to freshmen in hopes of instilling a conservation ethic that continues long after they leave the residence halls,” said Office of Sustainability coordinator Tyra Byers.

In 2010, Hill Hall won by lowering its overall water consumption to 29 gallons per person per day. The average person uses 100 gallons of water per day. Mell Hall, the 2009 Green Cup winner, reduced its electricity use by more than 17 percent.

Lipscomb Hall did the best at recycling last year, throwing away only 21 percent of items that could have been recycled. In comparison, a typical person’s trash contains about 70 percent recyclable items. For the 2011 competition, recycling bins have been set up on each residence hall floor, and the waste audit numbers are expected to be even lower.

Competition starts early each fall with an annual kick-off event hosted by the Office of Sustainability. Scattered across three weeks, there are more events, including outdoor movies in partnership with the EcoFocus Film Festival, ecolympics and scavenger hunts. The four-week challenge comes to a close with a final celebration crowning the Green Cup winners.

The UGA Office of Sustainability coordinates, communicates and advances sustainability initiatives in academics, research, public service and outreach, student engagement and campus operations at the University of Georgia.