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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!
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.