2014 Ecolympics Prizes

Summary: In the spring of 2014, the Green EDGE Fund awarded a sustainability grant to the Oberlin Environmental Sustainability Office to purchase three water refill stations as prizes for the winning dorms of the annual Ecolympics campus-wide competition. These refill stations serve as infrastructural improvements to these ResEd facilities.

Background Premise: Ecolympics is an annual competition, part of Campus Conservation Nationals, which promotes sustainable behavior through resource reduction competitions and educational events on campus and beyond. During this three-week event, dorms compete to lower their electricity and water use, and top reducing dorms are awarded prizes. These prizes are designed to incentivize participation in campus-wide sustainability practices. Ecolympics typically saves over 24,000 gallons of water, 12,000 kW hours, and 27,000 lbs. of carbon dioxide overall. This year, the three dorms who reduced their water and electricity usage the most were awarded with three new water refill stations to be installed in the dorms (one per dorm).

Cost-Benefit Analysis: The risk for these installations is relatively low since these refill stations have been installed as Ecolympics prizes previously (and funded by the GEF, to boot!). The stations are much more aesthetically pleasing than traditional water fountains, and also display the number of plastic water bottles presumably saved because of the stations. They are fixtures currently being installed around campus, but not ubiquitously throughout dorms. The installation of these stations both encourages sustainability practices locally where they’re placed, but indicate a larger movement on the College’s part to encourage similar behavior and infrastructure.

Additional Benefits: Funding this project supports the continuation of Ecolympics as an event on campus that should continue, and should also expand (as it has in the local public schools). It strengthens the relationship between different environmental groups and offices on campus, and is a great project that exemplifies the concepts and principles the GEF works to espouse, promote, and practice.