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Blackout Challenge

The Blackout Challenge Fall 2017 will run from October 8-28th

Fall 2015 Blackout Challenge winner is:


Congratulations Orchard North! You are the winner of the Blackout Challenge!

This is a friendly competition between residence halls to see how much energy they can reduce during a four week period.  Each residence hall competes against it's own baseline taken weeks before the competition starts. 

Week 1 - November 1 - November 7th - SAVE IT FOR THE FISH

Week 2 - November 8 - November 14th - SWEATER WEATHER

Week 3 - November 15 - November 21st - DO IT IN THE DARK

Week 4 - November 22 - November 28th - VAMPIRE POWER

Do you want to learn more about how we 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.