Green Cup contest aims to reduce energy use on campus

Campus-wide efforts to reduce energy will run through February

Washington University in St. Louis students living in on-campus housing on the Danforth Campus and at the School of Medicine are conserving as much energy as possible in an effort to win the annual Green Cup.

The contest is divided into four leagues:

  • South 40 residential colleges
  • Fraternity houses
  • North Side of the Danforth Campus
  • School of Medicine

During February, teams within the fraternity and residential college leagues compete to see who can reduce their energy by the greatest percentage while also engaging the largest numbers of their residents.

The North Side league challenges residents to achieve an overall goal of 10 percent energy use reduction during that same period.

The School of Medicine league aims to reduce energy usage by 15 percent from Feb. 24 to March 24.

Electricity use in each building is measured with meters installed in all campus buildings. Facilities Department staff at both campuses track data from those meters at all hours. On a weekly basis, energy consumption data is updated at, tracking energy reduction relative to a baseline period, as well as the standings in each of the four leagues.

Teams earn points for each percentage-point drop in energy use over the competition. Students within the South 40 and fraternity leagues can also earn points for posting pictures on the Green Cup Facebook event page, taking the Sustainability Pledge at, wearing the “greenman” suit to promote the Green Cup, and, for the South 40, attending sustainability-themed Residential College events.

The winner of each league will be awarded a Green Cup plaque or trophy, made from recycled bottles, at an awards ceremony March 3. In addition, the top three finishers in the fraternity league will receive cash prizes and the top three winners of the South 40 league will receive bicycles and kitchen service ware to share within their residential college.

If the North Side and School of Medicine leagues achieve their overall reduction goals, those communities will win a sundae party and breakfast before exams, respectively.

Last year’s winning fraternity, Sigma Nu, reduced its energy usage by nearly 30 percent over the course of the competition. Member and Green Cup Advocate Michael Wray said Sigma Nu’s victory was a group effort.

“We were turning down speakers, washing our laundry with cold water and shutting off lights throughout the competition,” said Wray, a senior majoring in poliltical science, in Arts and Sciences. “Our entire house was involved in saving energy. Some people were even showering in the dark.”

Last year’s winning South 40 team, Liggett/Koenig, reduced overall energy usage by 15 percent.

“The Green Cup has resulted in major energy use reductions and reinforces a culture of energy conservation at the university,” said Phil Valko, the university’s director of sustainability.

“During the monthlong 2013 Green Cup, students saved nearly 40,000 kilowatt hours, which is equivalent to the annual energy usage of 3 to 4 American homes. The greenhouse gas savings from the month is equivalent to taking six cars off the road for a full year.”

Upcoming events include the Green Cup-sponsored Tuesday Tea at Danforth University Center Commons from 3-5 p.m. Feb. 25 and a happy hour from 5:30-7 p.m. Feb. 27 in The Gargoyle (Mallinckrodt Center).

The Green Cup was developed and implemented for the first time in spring 2011 by the Office of Sustainability and a student Green Cup committee, which included WUSTL alumnus Chris Brennan, who proposed the idea to the university.

The Green Cup is one of a series of university initiatives throughout the year that promotes a campus culture of sustainability. It is part of the Office of Sustainability’s overarching “Less is More” campaign, which promotes energy conservation, waste reduction, water conservation and other strategies that reduce WUSTL’s impact.

Faculty and staff can get involved by turning off lights when not in use, setting computers to power save mode, setting thermostats between 67 and 70 degrees and auditing their offices/labs to identify other opportunities for energy conservation.

The Green Cup is hosted through a partnership between the Office of Sustainability, Residential Life, Congress of the South 40 EcoReps, the North Side Association, Greek Life, the Medical Student Sustainability Committee, Danforth Facilities Department, and Washington University School of Medicine Facilities Management Department.

For more information about the Green Cup, visit or email