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Blackout Challenge


Due to the campus-wide power outage on February 22nd and the failed generator in Lindsay Hall, the data center that is housed in Lindsay was powered off. The time that it took for power to be fully restored also meant that the energy management system was not collecting data for Week 1 of the Blackout Challenge. Therefore, we do not have enough data to declare a winner for the Challenge.

To thank all 600 residents who participated by signing the pledge, we are going to make awesome commemorative 2015 Blackout Challenge stickers. The Office of Sustainability will send an email to all of the students that signed up telling them where they can pick up their sticker after Spring Break. We apologize for any disappointment this may cause, and we appreciate the community’s understanding of this unpredictable situation. Be sure to stay engaged for the next Blackout Challenge in the fall!

Don’t forget to unplug your appliances and electronics before you leave for Spring Break. Most electronics still use electricity when they are turned off because they stay in standby mode. Your TV, DVD player, game console, microwave, toaster, and printer could all use a break too!

The Blackout Challenge will return in the Fall 2015


Do you want to learn more about how Bentley Green Society (BGS) and the Office of Sustainability (OOS) calculate the metrics for Blackout Challenge?

[This explanation was written by the Bentley Green Society E-board of 2013. Please direct your questions and comments to]

The main goal of the Blackout Challenge is to create behavioral change once students appreciate how their activities are affecting their building's energy consumption. For example, leaving your TV on, your laptop and cell phone chargers plugged in, and your A/C on with moderate weather all waste energy unnecessarily. Our hope is that the Blackout Challenge gets students thinking about reasonable usage by getting into the habit of turning lights & electronics off when they are not in use, opening windows instead of turning on HVAC units, etc.

In FY2013, Bentley spent about $2.4 million in electricity costs. Although the campus electric bill is integrated into tuition, room and board costs, our unsustainable habits will cost us greatly when we live on our own and must pay based on our own usage; more importantly, it will cost us as a society in the form of climate change whose effects are already threatening low-lying cities like Boston and NYC. Now’s the time to form green habits! Additionally, the savings from reducing energy consumption go directly back to students through annual building improvements.
In the past, BGS has received many questions about the way these calculations are made given the discrepancies between buildings. In an effort to be as transparent as possible, below are simple explanations of the process:

Baseline calculations

  • The baseline is calculated as a weekly average based on each building's electricity usage in the month prior to the Challenge. For instance, the baseline for October's Blackout Challenge is calculated as an average of two weeks of September's usage; in the spring, the baseline for Blackout Challenge Redemption is calculated using the weeks prior to the challenge in late January/early February.
  • Of course, some buildings are renovated during different years, and these renovations usually include energy efficiency upgrades such as LED lighting and EnergyStar kitchen appliances. While these upgrades reduce energy consumption in one building without any effort on the students' part, we control for these differences in infrastructure by comparing the reductions to the building's own baseline in the same year. Therefore, a newly renovated building is not at an advantage compared to an older building because total usage is not compared across campus.
  • The baseline calculation also allows us to control for the number of occupants or the percentage occupancy in each building, since electricity is not compared on a per-capita basis or as a percentage of the campus's total usage.

Percentage changes to determine rankings

  • This week's percent change = compare Week 3's usage to 1-week baseline usage
  • Overall percent change = average of (Week 1 + Week 2 + Week 3) compared to 1-week baseline usage


  • The weekly ranking reports the greatest to smallest percentage reduction for that specific week compared to the baseline. This allows students to be rewarded through the Green Cup (50 points to their RHA hall council) for incremental wins, rather than only the overall largest reduction.
  • The overall ranking reports the greatest to smallest percentage reduction to date; for example, in week 3, the overall ranking is a composite of all three weeks' reductions compared to the baseline. The hall that wins the entire Blackout Challenge, receives 100 points to their hall council toward the Green Cup in addition to bragging rights & t-shirts from the competition itself.
  • The "Power-up to power-down ranking" is essentially an honorable mention decided by the Green Society E-board based on data analyses and knowledge of the building's systems to determine the most impressive behavioral effort each week. This can be in the form of Eco-Rep engagement, signs hung by students or a remarkable come-back in the rankings each week. The hall with these rankings receives 10 points to their hall council and a feature on the Bentley Office of Sustainability website.