Colleges Compete in PowerDown Challenge

Power Down Challenge is revving up once again under its new title, “PowerDown,
Get WaterWise.” This year, the challenge is expanding its 5C reach and pushing all of the schools to reduce energy usage and conserve water amid the
persistent California drought. 

The group has created a logo featuring a water drop that represents its new focus on water usage, according to Pitzer College Sustainability Coordinator Jesse Meisler-Abramson PZ ’11. 

“The California drought is getting a lot of news coverage,
so it’s a terrific time to be talking about water conservation, and for it to
be a bit more meaningful to students,” said Ginny Routhe, the director of Pomona College’s
Sustainability Integration Office (SIO).

challenge, which began at Pomona in 2006, expanded to all five
Claremont Colleges last year. A group of 5C students and faculty and staff members have met several times per month this year to expand Power Down’s coverage at the

year, compared to past years, it’s really been a much fuller, 5C effort, which
is fantastic,” Meisler-Abramson said. “We are much more on top of it than we have been in
the past.”

challenge will kick off with a Power Down-themed Pub party at Pomona on March 26,
and will last for three weeks, ending on April 15. The closing
ceremony is planned for April 18, when the college with
the highest reduction in energy usage will be awarded the Green Cup.

Mudd College currently holds the Green Cup after its overwhelming victory last
March with an 18.4 percent reduction in energy usage from March 2012. Pomona followed with a
2.8 percent reduction, while Scripps College achieved a 0.4 percent reduction. Pitzer failed to reduce energy usage, instead seeing a 0.7 percent increase. Claremont
McKenna College provided no data.

Claremont Colleges are also competing in the Power Down Challenge nationally as part of Campus
Conservation Nationals, a competition that rewards
colleges for significant energy reduction.

year, the Claremont Colleges saved a combined 22,723 kilowatt-hours during the Power Down Challenge. HMC’s large reduction in energy use placed it in the top five colleges in the nation for energy reduction.

Over winter break, Pomona installed
meters in its residence halls and dining halls to monitor water usage, making it the only
college able to track the water usage of individual buildings.

is definitely on the forefront,” Meisler-Abramson said. “We’ve picked the name
of this competition to be in line with the current state of the drought in

Routhe and Michelle McFadden, the energy manager at Pomona, said that
Power Down focuses on reducing energy usage at a student level.

is essentially a student-led competition,” McFadden said. “The Facilities Department is here to
facilitate that with the data gathering and baseline measurements, but it’s up
to the students to get out there and get pledges and motivate the student

Power Down-themed Pub party will take place March 26 at 10 p.m. at Pomona’s Doms Lounge. It will feature SolTrain, a mobile solar energy station
built by students, faculty, and staff in 2009, which will power
the event’s lights and music. The SIO will also hold “Pizza for Pledges,” at which students who pledge to conserve energy and water will receive free pizza.

hoping to not only breed competition, but make this a fun thing,” McFadden said. “Conservation
and efficiency don’t need to involve sacrificing anything; it should be
something that everyone wants to do.” 

Power Down
events include a music night at Pitzer called “Acoustic Groove at the Grove”; glow-in-the-dark chalking at CMC, which will coincide with Earth Hour, a designated time when people around the world are encouraged to turn off their home lights; musical improvisation at HMC; and a sustainability-themed afternoon tea at Scripps.

my desire that we don’t see a reduction for those three weeks and a spike right
afterward,” McFadden said. “I’d like to see sustained reductions. If we can do it for three
weeks, I don’t see why we can’t do it year round.” 

can pledge up until the challenge closes on April 15. To pledge,

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