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Energy Contest
The Energy Innovation Contest 2014-2015 Print E-mail

for Rutgers New Brunswick Undergraduate Students
Sponsored by The Rutgers Energy Institute

The Rutgers Energy Institute (REI) is hosting its annual energy competition intended to engage students in devising creative and innovative solutions in reducing energy wasted at Rutgers.  "Energy Innovation" is the challenge for this 2015 competition.  

The Goal:
Presently, student, staff and faculty use of the standing buildings and infrastructure of the Rutgers campus complex at New Brunswick/Piscataway accounts for approximately 150,000 tons of carbon dioxide annually to the atmosphere each year. Factoring in commuting students, faculty, and staff, and the total emissions are increased to an estimated 300,000 tons of carbon dioxide each year.  One goal of the Rutgers Energy Institute is to work with students, faculty and staff across the campus complex to make the university carbon neutral by 2030.

The Challenge:
To develop an implementable plan reducing student energy consumption on campus as well as promoting awareness about smarter eco-friendly practices across campus.  Students must demonstrate how energy can be conserved by creating innovative solutions to common energy expenditures.

Enrolled undergraduate students in any program on the New Brunswick-Piscataway campus are eligible. Graduate students and post-doctoral fellows are not eligible. Register for the competition by sending an email indicating intent to submit an entry to Beatrice Birrer at This e-mail address is being protected from spam bots, you need JavaScript enabled to view it .  Extended to March 13, 2015.

Submission Date:
Proposals should be submitted on or before March 23, 2015 via email to This e-mail address is being protected from spam bots, you need JavaScript enabled to view it .

Three awards ($2,500 for first place, $1,500 for second place, and $1,000 for third place) will be awarded to undergraduate students or teams who have submitted energy reduction plans selected to be the most innovative, practical, and low-cost solutions by a panel composed of faculty chosen by the REI Advisory Board.  

2013 REI Energy Contest Winners Print E-mail


The Rutgers Energy Institute annually challenges Rutgers undergraduates to develop implementable plans for reducing energy consumption on campus.  The three winning entries were awarded prizes at the 2013 REI Annual Symposium on May 7th.

The REI gratefully acknowledges sponsorship of the Energy Contest by Sapphire Energy Inc.

View Presentation Video by REI Associate Director Kevin Lyons

1st Place for $2,500: Reducing Utility Consumption via Incentives (RUCVI)

Joe Woo, Matthew Lu, Moiz Rauf

Major(s) Materials Science & Engineering (all). Abstract: Proposal for the implementation of a novel incentivisation program which, in close collaboration with the Residence Hall Association,  can serve to reduce utility consumption to the greatest extent possible. Step 1: Measure average electricity, heating, and water usage per residence hall; set a realistic target for reduction of energy expenditure (i.e.: reduce 10% of this measured consumption) for subsequent years. Step 2: Implement a monetary reward system, coupled with real-time visual feedback of energy savings, to maximally incentivize students to reach and surpass this target figure. Step 3: Carefully monitor term-by-term statistics to revise the program implementation strategy and further optimize revenue.

2nd Place for $1,500: RU New to Eco-Friendly Transportation

Adam Cucchiara

Major: Landscape Industry. Abstract: The RU New to Eco-Friendly Transportation consists of a multiyear process to introduce two new forms of transportation to this university. Those two methods include a purely electric-powered monorail system and a series of bike lanes. Both will provide easy access for students to each campus without the distraction of local roads and traffic. The monorail track itself will supply a shelter for the bike lanes that will be installed underneath. To ensure the use of these lanes, Rutgers will promote a bike sharing system. This system has been around for dozens of years as it is utilized mostly in Europe and has shown to be effective. These bike sharing rental stations will be located on each campus and only be exclusive for students and faculty. With the introduction of these two methods, the use of busses will be minimized.

3rd Place for $1,000: Alternative Lawns - Using clover as an eco-sustainable alternative to grass

Kelsey Noll, Steven Daniels

Major(s): Genetics Minor(s): Spanish Daniels Major(s): Marine Sciences - Biological Oceanography. Abstract: Traditional grass lawns are costly, time-consuming, and not a sustainable, environmentally friendly option. Planting a White Dutch Clover (Trifolium repens) lawn as opposed to a traditional Kentucky Bluegrass (Poa pratenis) lawn reduces the fiscal and physical investment of lawn maintenance and promotes more sustainable practices, all while maintaining the green lawn appeal. This project investigates this lawn alternative, among others, and considers the advantages and disadvantages when compared to a traditional grass lawn. We have compiled our findings as a proposal to benefit Rutgers University and homeowners alike. We have created plans to implement clover lawns on both the engineering quad on Busch Campus and at Rutgers Gardens, which will make on-campus lawn maintenance more efficient while also educating the public about this alternative. Additionally, the project includes a start-up guide to planting a clover lawn to educate any interested individual who would like to grow such a lawn.

Honorable Mention: Tray-less Dining Halls

Pooja Pancholi, Sara Yesalavich, Rashmi Singh, Erin Conner

Abstract: Dining halls are significant contributors to water usage, food waste, and electricity usage, along with other forms of energy. Because of this, they can have a profound impact on the environment, even when compared to other parts of college campuses. Our program aims to eliminate the use of trays by slowly fazing them out over time. By eliminating trays throughout the New Brunswick campus, Rutgers will save significantly on water usage and food waste, as well as electricity, detergents, and such. Food waste will decline because students will no longer be able to pile their trays with multiple plates and cups. These reductions in food and water will not only help the environment but also save money for the university and students: a decrease in food waste will likely result in a decrease of ordered food and help control rising meal costs for students. Additionally, the removal of trays from dishwashers creates more space and allows more dishes to be washed using the same amount of water. By this simple action, multiple factors of energy use and consumption can be addressed in a significant way for a lasting effect.

  • Click here to read the entire proposal
2010 Energy Contest for Undergraduates showcases Rutgers students ideas for the future Print E-mail
2010 Energy Contest

Sponsored by The Rutgers Energy Institute

The Rutgers Energy Institute annually challenges Rutgers undergraduates to develop implementable plans for reducing carbon emissions. Five winning entries were awarded prizes for the ideas they contributed towards helping Rutgers-New Brunswick become carbon neutral. 

Contest for Capping Rutgers Carbon Emissions Print E-mail

The Energy Contest for Rutgers New Brunswick Undergraduate Students

Sponsored by The Rutgers Energy Institute

The Rutgers Energy Institute recently issued a challenge to the Rutgers undergraduates to develop implementable plans for reducing the carbon emissions. The following proposals (4 winning entries and 1 honorable mention) were awarded prizes for the ideas they contributed towards helping Rutgers-New Brunswick become carbon neutral.

Winners of the 2008 Energy Contest for Undergraduates

Green Roof Systems
Ronela Belasa, Robert Kennedy, ChenryLee Lewis, Jihoon Park, and Michael Sitaras

Award: $2,500

Summary of the proposal:
The following proposal will show how Rutgers University can manage their fuel consumption and carbon dioxide emissions by using existing campus building rooftops to implement a low cost and efficient system of "green roofs". Green roof systems provide insulation to buildings that create an overall cooling effect in the summer and reducing heat/gas consumption in the winter. Green roof systems address rainfall runoff and noise pollution, reinforce the strength of existing building infrastructures, create research opportunities for students, job opportunities for the community, and create additional habitat for animals. Application of the system to the Neilson Dining Hall, on the George H. Cook campus, yields an estimated annual savings of 39,762.10 therms in energy consumption with a calculated savings of $19,733.34 in gas consumption costs every year while removing 830.855 kg of potentially hazardous air particulates a year.

The Use of Solar Panels to Reduce the Carbon Emissions and Energy Costs of Rutgers University
Christopher Binz

Award: $2,500

Summary of the proposal:
The severe budget cuts sustained by Rutgers University have put financial stress on every aspect of the University. The University must divert a significant portion of the budget to costs associated with electricity. Also, environmental concerns are becoming a more pressing issue, and there is a strong push towards energy efficiency. This proposal provides a solution to both of these problems by outlining plans to fit the Science and Engineering Resource Center on Busch Campus with rooftop solar panels. These will eliminate the cost of electricity for the building; and in doing so, greatly reduce the carbon footprint made by Rutgers. In addition, it will be a grid-tied system, meaning any excess energy can be sold back to the electricity provider, generating extra revenue. Many other schools have taken a step in this direction, and the Adam Joseph Lewis Center at Oberlin College in Oberlin, Ohio provides an excellent example of how energy efficiency leads to cost efficiency. A "pilot" project similar to this one is outlined for Rutgers University, and the success of the Adam Joseph Lewis Center provides proof that using solar panels is a cost effective way to both balance the budget and benefit the environment.

The Route Towards Carbon Neutrality: Reducing Carbon Emissions at Rutgers University
Amy Tsui

Award: $2,500

Summary of the proposal:
This proposal focuses mostly on the transportation-related (or commuting) portion of CO2 emissions from Rutgers University, which accounts for half of the University's emissions. Solutions listed in this proposal to address commuting problems involve improved integration of public transit options, increased infrastructure for carpooling, carbon offset purchasing and incentives for hybrid car use. Additionally, a comprehensive bike plan is proposed to significantly reduce the dependence on the bus system as well as benefit student and faculty health. Also included is a discussion and analysis of additional campus improvements to buttress the transportation-related emissions reductions. This includes changing dorm life and practices, improving green space and reducing black space. Combined, these solutions can reduce the University's 150,000 ton transportation-related output by 98% by 2030, with most of the reduction occurring in the first few years. Overall, this achieves a 49% reduction of the 300,000 total tons emitted by the university.

Rutgers University Carbon Neutrality by 2030
Mark Pomerantz and Sho Ohata

Award: $2,500

Summary of the proposal: This is a proposal to reduce Rutgers University New Brunswick Campus' carbon emissions to zero. There is a four branched approach to the problem by making the University more efficient, finding new sources of energy on campus which emit less CO2, utilizing certain CO2 sequestration techniques and changing the mindset of students and faculty. There are many methods of reducing all of the University's carbon emissions, but an effective plan needs to be economically feasible and not use too many other resources. The ideas proposed are presented realistically and are easily implementable otherwise administrators would not apply them. There are several separate sections of the proposal; a main description of each idea, calculations and a timeline. New technologies such as solar power, biofuels, and green building are utilized to reduce the University's carbon footprint. With the threat of global warming becoming a real world concern, Rutgers needs to assert the dedication to its slogan of having Jersey roots and a global reach.

Up Stream, Red Team, Let's Go Green
Neil Ramchandani

Honorable Mention Award: $1,500


Summary of the proposal: The Rutgers administration has been actively involved in reducing the size of the University's environmental footprint. However, the majority of the 27,000 students who attend Rutgers New Brunswick are not at all involved in increasing our level of sustainability. To alter this situation, the student body needs to be motivated to take action. More recently, thousands of students have flocked to athletic events to cheer on our fresh and upcoming teams. Not only have some of our athletes gained the respect and admiration of the students, they have also brought thousands of residents from the area together in supporting Rutgers. The influence these high profile players and coaches have can be channeled into encouraging people to be environmentally responsible. Brief videos and public service announcements at the games with such people promoting recycling and conservation of water, gas and electricity would reach the ears of countless numbers of people and give them role models to follow. Athletic venues could provide the perfect places for people to apply these actions, which will spill over into the community and make a significant contribution to reducing our environmental footprint.

Useful resources from the contest information session:

Presentation on Rutgers Energy Use (pdf) by the Rutgers University Energy Conservation Manager, Mike Kornitas.

University Sustainability Committee Annual Report for 2007 (pdf), or visit their website for more information on RU sustainability.

Online resources to understanding utilities and energy consumption at Rutgers:

Campus Energy Challenge Print E-mail

Once again RU Facilities, with support from PSE&G, has organized a Campus Energy Challenge for the month of March.  All five NB campuses - Cook, Douglass, College Ave, Busch, and Livingston - will compete to see which can lower its electricity usage the most from last year.  The winning campus will have bragging rights for a year plus other prizes; the winner will be announced on Earth Day.

  • Use your desktop lamp rather than ceiling lighting
  • Use compact fluorescent lamps to save energy and cut pollution.
  • For three copies or less, use the printer; for more, use the copier.
  • Laser printers use 300 watts; inkjets use only 10, for similar quality.
  • Using the "stand-by" button on your copier will lighten your energy load by 70%.
  • A computer monitor uses 60 watts of power; turn it off if you leave for more than 10 minutes.
  • Recycling paper reduces water use by 60%, energy by 70%, and cuts pollution in half.
  • The facilities web site ( has a list of helpful hints .  

Let's all build some habits that help RU conserve energy (and money).


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