This October, green is the new orange.
The Office of Sustainability officially kicked off the POWER challenge on Tuesday, Oct. 1.
Initiated in 2005, the program has become an annual campus tradition, pitting residence halls against one another in a bid to save the most coveted resources.
According to the Office of Sustainability's website, "halls are scored according to their weekly water and electricity consumption, recycling totals and educational program activity."
Scoring updates and competition tips will be posted on the office's Facebook page.
The program itself is an acronym, representing "Programs Of Water, Energy and Recycling." The residence halls with the highest point totals by the end of the month win "bragging rights, the 'Mo Green' trophy and a party with refreshments and entertainment," according to the website.
To Elly Boehmer, coordinator for Sustainability Outreach, the campus-wide initiative represents a way for students to get involved and learn how to be more environmentally aware.
"I love the idea of this program," Boehmer said. "It is a great way to incorporate sustainability education into a fun, competitive event. It truly does make a difference both environmentally and economically, while at the same time fostering community building.
"Students gain valuable knowledge on the benefits of going green that will be of use to them long after they leave the res halls. UT is huge and uses a lot of resources so if all students here did their part to minimize their environmental impact, we could make a big difference."
The resources saved by last year's program included, according to the office's website, "443,700 cubic feet of water — the equivalent of about five Olympic-sized swimming pools and increased recycling by seven tons."
Energy conservation from dorm residences helped prevent 126 metric tons of greenhouse gas pollution, saving an environmental saving equal to 14,000 gallons of gasoline.
"Overall, residents helped UT avoid approximately $56,000 in water, waste water, electricity and trash disposal costs," the website reads.
The POWER challenge has changed heavily since its inception in 2005, said Jay Price, recycling coordinator and former coordinator of the POWER challenge.
"I came up with the current structure and helped to make it what it is now," Price said. "The program used to last 4-6 months, but because of the duration of the program, it was difficult to sustain and wasn't as successful, so we scale it back to a month.
"Now, though, it's gotten much better. We've got much more feedback from residence assistants and hall directors on improving it, and integrating educational opportunities."
The program does not solely stress saving resources, but also encourages creating educational environmental programs.
"Halls are allowed to earn extra points when their RAs put on programs or students decide they want to try their own green initiative," said Logan Terheggen, sustainability intern and sophomore in chemical engineering. "One thing we are trying to get across this year is that the Office of Sustainability is here to help anyone with an idea in any way we can. This way, not only are we encouraging green practices, but students are being exposed and learning more about the environment around them."
Though the program has already started, new ideas are in the works for the Office of Sustainability.
"It would be great to see the program expand," Boehmer said. "I would love to see a Greek Life POWER Challenge as well as one amongst the other departments on campus."