NYU's annual NYUnplugged competition is broadening its goals by participating in the new and much larger Campus Conservation Nationals that include 40 schools and 120,000 students.

There will be a guaranteed winner in this national competition between universities to reduce student energy use in residence halls. The undisputed winner will be planet Earth when students not only switch out their incandescent bulbs for fluorescents and LEDs but also turn them off completely when not in use. The winning university, however, will need to get much more creative than switching out bulbs if they want to win. It's this sort of student ingenuity that will create future progress in the ever-evolving energy field, starting at the student level.

The three-week competition, which ends on Nov. 19, will have a ripple effect beyond the competition end date by demonstrating the "collective power and influence as individuals making change," according to Jeremy Friedman, NYU’s manager of sustainability initiatives. Friedman explains, “The actions of just one person doing tiny things like turning off lights and configuring computers properly, when done collectively, can quickly add up.”

The winners will also receive a prize package from the U.S. Green Building Council and Study Like a Champion.

It's a proven concept: when students compete against rival schools, there's an extra incentive to reach an agreed-upon goal. Just as in sports, but with a purpose and a positive impact — feedback and a game plan are the key to winning. 

NOTE: This is a guest post from Trevor Reichman, a musician, writer and contributor to TreeHugger.comPlanetGreen.com, and MNN. He lives off-grid in the middle of the desert, giving him a unique perspective on how to mix old-school sustainability with modern-day technology.

NYU challenges students to pull the plug for national energy fast
NYU's students are part of a competition among 40 schools to find out who is the master of energy management.