Rutgers Energy Contest Challenges Students to Innovate

The Rutgers Energy Institute is trying to find ways for Rutgers to be more environmentally friendly, all while satisfying the energy needs of tens of thousands of students, faculty and staff.

The REI Energy Contest is an annual competition that encourages undergraduate students to devise methods for improving energy efficiency at Rutgers, according to the REI website.

“Energy Innovation” is the theme for the 2015 to 2016 competition. The challenge of the competition is to write a proposal for reducing student energy consumption on campus and promoting awareness about smarter eco-friendly practices across campus, according to the REI website.

All undergraduate students at Rutgers—New Brunswick are eligible to participate.

Both individuals and teams up to five members can participate. The REI encourages teams of students from different schools or programs.

The deadline for registration is Feb. 26, 2016, and proposals must be submitted by March 25, 2016.

Full contest rules and guidelines are available on the REI website.

The three individuals or teams with the most innovative, practical and low-cost solutions will be given awards, according to the website. The prizes are $2,500 for first place, $1,500 for second place and $1,000 for third.

Two students, Lazer Gerlikhman and Ariel Schwalb, tied for first place last year. They proposed an electric bus system and a SkyTran to reduce carbon emissions, respectively.

This contest is part of a larger effort to make Rutgers a more eco-friendly university.

The REI Energy Innovation contest webpage gives numbers of energy consumption at Rutgers. For example, energy consumption in Rutgers—New Brunswick buildings and infrastructure results in around 150,000 tons of carbon dioxide being emitted into the atmosphere each year. When energy consumption of commuters is added in, this number rises to 300,000 tons.

There have been various initiatives to reduce carbon emissions at Rutgers. According to the website, the REI has set the goal of a carbon neutral university by 2030.

Michael Kornitas, director of Sustainability and Energy, said he is actively involved in making Rutgers a more energy-efficient university.

“As part of a memorandum of understanding with the Environmental Protection Agency, Rutgers submits its annual green house gas reduction,” Kornitas said. “According to the EPA, Rutgers is the largest reducer of green house gases of any university that has an MoU with the EPA.”

The latest EPA report on Rutgers credits the University with reducing its carbon footprint by 353,446 metric tons of carbon dioxide, equivalent since 2009. This reduction is about the same amount as burning 40 million gallons of gasoline.

The bulk of this reduction has come from energy conservation and alternative energy initiatives.

Kornitas and the REI hope to see more successful initiatives come from this year’s Energy Innovation Contest.

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