CORVALLIS, Ore. - A group of students in an environmental science class at Oregon State University has begun a special project to reduce energy consumption in selected buildings on campus to determine how actions by individuals in those buildings can have an impact on energy savings.

The students will help raise awareness of energy issues and use low-cost or no-cost measures to see if they can reduce the energy consumption in six campus buildings by at least 5 percent from typical February usage. These measures include turning off lights, utilizing low-power settings on computers, and replacing incandescent desk lamps with compact fluorescent lamps.

"We're really excited to see how much energy we can save as a campus by doing the simple things," said Greg Smith, program assistant in the OSU Sustainability Office, who is coordinating the event. "With the current economy, saving energy becomes even more important, especially if we can conserve without additional spending."

The seven students working with Smith in this first Building Energy Challenge will focus their efforts on Milam Hall, Women's Building, Agricultural Life Sciences, Moreland Hall, Wilkinson Hall and Bexell Hall. They will make the building occupants aware of their energy consumption and the associated environmental impacts, inform them on ways to reduce their energy consumption, and provide daily energy consumption information.

"The Building Energy Challenge emphasizes the importance of individual action," Smith said.

The students will create informational materials, analyze data, build a web presence and communicate information and results to building occupants.  "The students have really taken the reins and are running the challenge," Smith said. "I'm just helping to make it run smoothly." 

Quin Collins, communications coordinator for the event, likes that she's gaining real-world experience - and upper-division credit - while helping OSU conserve energy.

"As a senior, I've been looking for a chance to build experience that I can use in the workplace," Collins said. "The fact that I get to help OSU become more energy-efficient, and save money, is a bonus." 

The challenge runs the rest of this month, ending Feb. 28 at midnight. Each week will focus on reducing energy usage in different areas; this first week has emphasized lighting, week two is appliances and plug loads, Smith said. Heating and cooling will be addressed in the third week, while the final week is a comprehensive push to save in all categories. Weekly and overall winners will receive prizes.

For more information about the Building Energy Challenge and ways you can help save energy, go online at

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Greg Smith, OSU Sustainability Office, 503-936-0901