Chico State’s sustainability team takes home the Jupiter Cup, as the winner of the 2015 CSU League Competition. From left to right: Jordan Alm, Kyle Gunther, Jon Fehlman, Spencer Carroll and Fletcher Alexander.

Competition is heating up but it’s not on the football field, volleyball court or at any other athletic facility on CSU campuses. A new sustainability competition—the CSU League Competition—is proving to be just as competitive, with student teams across the state vying for the CSU’s top sustainability honors. The competition supports the CSU’s ongoing commitment to significantly reduce its carbon footprint and broaden the environmental movement at all campuses.

The goal of the CSU League is to encourage campuses to ramp up their sustainability efforts and enter the Campus Conservation Nationals (CCN) — the largest electricity and water reduction competition for colleges and universities in the world, with more than 100 colleges and universities participating annually. All CSU campuses that enter the worldwide competition will be automatically entered into the CSU League where they have the opportunity to compete against each other.

“For many students CCN will be their first contact with the idea of energy efficiency,” said Michael Clemson, CSU Energy and Sustainability Program Analyst. “If we can show them the tools they can use to reduce their personal energy consumption, they will take those skills with them when they graduate to their homes and work places.”

For the past five years, CSU campuses have individually participated in CCN where residence halls on campus compete against each other for the steepest reduction in building energy and water use over a three-week period. Schools with the highest overall percent reduction in consumption earn prizes such as software and hardware that enhances sustainability optimization.

Now the stakes are even higher. In addition to competing in CCN, each CSU campus will also be competing in the CSU League for the coveted Jupiter Cup trophy and a $1,000 stipend for energy efficiency retrofits. The award, which was inaugurated this past July, will be presented each year to the winning campus during the California Higher Education Sustainability Conference. The Jupiter Cup—which was sculpted by Raymond Persinger, an alumnus of CSU Long Beach, CSU Fullerton and the CSU Summer Arts program—was cast using recycled bronze and the base was handcrafted using salvaged teak.

“The Jupiter Cup recognizes campuses for their sustainability efforts and fosters a healthy annual conservation competition,” said Fletcher Alexander, Chico State Campus Sustainability Coordinator and creator of the CSU League. “It’s intended to raise the visibility for the CSU League Competition of CCN in a powerful way and should help fuel the competition in future years.”

Chico State, Humboldt State, Cal Poly Pomona and Cal Poly San Luis Obispo competed in the CSU League in 2015. Chico State took home the Jupiter Cup award this year, and will hold the award until next year’s competition when they must defend their title against rival CSU campuses. Chico State students averaged a 26 percent reduction over the three-week competition in 2015. One of the primary tools Chico State used for engaging students in the residence halls is the Eco Reps Program. The Eco Reps act as peer-to-peer educators, conservation leaders in the halls and liaisons between the coordinating team and the rest of the student body. They are empowered to take direct action and motivate their peers in the halls to take action for conservation as well.

“Supporting the short-term goals of the competition—student involvement and action—in turn supports its long-term goals—changing the behavior and habits of students to help spread the environmental movement,” said Alexander.