UNC wins EPA energy contest

The Vision statement for UNC energy services reads: "To be a leader among our peers and to be recognized by North Carolina citizens and our campus community for providing innovative, cost effective, highly reliable, and environmentally friendly energy and water resources to the Carolina community."

TEXT OF STORY

JEREMY HOBSON: Six months ago, the Environmental Protection Agency launched its Biggest Loser competition. It's a contest to see which commercial building can lose the most kilowatts, and become the most energy efficient. Here's Eve Troeh with the results.


EVE TROEH: First place in the EPA's National Building Competition goes to the University of North Carolina!

Crowd screams

OK, that's actually from the Tarheels' basketball championship last year. Today's reaction over Morrison Residence Hall cutting its energy use by 36 percent -- not quite so big. But...

CHRIS MARTIN: You know, we did bring one more national championship to the university.

That's UNC energy manager Chris Martin. He says chance to beat fellow contestant North Carolina State did get students to turn off the lights. And he says the contest gave his staff a reason to replace old light bulbs and fine tune the dorm's heating and cooling.

MARTIN: There was very little money spent on this competition. Most of the results were from focusing our own efforts at reducing the energy.

And that's the big lesson, says Gina McCarthy at the EPA. None of the biggest energy losers bought expensive equipment to cut down their use.

GINA MCCARTHY: What they did was use common sense approaches, and make incremental improvements that paid off.

Paid off in real money. The EPA contestants saved almost a million dollars on their energy bills.

I'm Eve Troeh for Marketplace.

About the author

Eve Troeh is News Director at WWNO-FM in New Orleans, La., helping build the first public radio news department in the station’s 40-year history. She reported for the Marketplace Sustainability Desk from 2010 to 2013.

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