Students in UBC’s Totem Park and Place Vanier residences are ready to Do It in the Dark from November 5 – 23rd. UBC’s 3rd annual energy and water conservation competition will see each residence house compete for bragging rights and prizes by achieving the greatest energy savings or highest participation points.

In Totem Park, students will use a real-time energy conservation dashboard to track their building’s energy use, make daily conservation pledges and engage in social media and outreach activities. In Place Vanier, students will engage in a wide variety of energy and water conservation education events, such as pledges, a Twitter challenge and campaigns.

Connie Chen, a second year Commerce student, is helping to coordinate Do It in the Dark campaigns as part of Common Energy UBC’s Challenge Team and commented on her experience in the 2011 competition.

“The competition is probably the best spirit-building activity after Colour Wars in Totem and the Vanier Olympics,” says Chen. “It's amazing and often hilarious to see everyone so intensely minimizing their environmental impacts. I once saw complete strangers being dragged out from a house elevator by housemates!"

Students save energy during the Do It In the Dark competition by:

  • Turning out lights in dorm rooms and common areas
  • Unplugging electronic devices when not in use
  • Installing power bars to reduce phantom power
  •  Washing clothes in cold water and hanging them to dry
  • Taking shorter showers to reduce hot water use
  • Turning down the heat
  • Taking the stairs, and avoiding power-consuming elevators

The competition features popular events like Dine in the Dark, an LED candle-lit experience in the residence dining halls. Regular Do It in the Dark booths will be set up in each residence commons block to engage and inform students on simple conservation actions they can take throughout their day.

Third year Forestry student, Kai Okazaki, both participated in the first annual Do It in the Dark event in 2010 and is now helping to coordinate the program with Residence Coordinators and Common Energy student volunteers.

“First year residence is where students learn to live independently away from home. By educating students to take on conservation initiatives and actions in the competition, I think this program really helps students learn sustainable lifestyle choices that will stick with them throughout their academic careers here at UBC and in their personal lives after graduation,” says Okazaki. “Do It in the Dark is not only about being sustainable, this is also about working towards a healthier lifestyle.”

Sponsors and program partners include AMS Sustainability, FortisBC, Campus Sustainability, Residence Life (Student Housing and Hospitality Services) and Common Energy UBC. There are over $1000 in great prizes to be won, from yoga passes to ski lift tickets, plus commemorative plaques for the winning houses.

“Do It in the Dark is one of many initiatives underway at UBC to foster a culture of sustainability and contributes to developing student leaders in conservation and climate action,” says Kara McDougall, Engagement Manager at Campus Sustainability.

UBC is currently developing a campus-wide Engagement and Social Marketing Strategy that will assist the university in further achieving its reduction targets for energy, greenhouse gases, water and waste. The Strategy phases include surveys, focus group sessions, and a pilot program and will leverage existing engagement programs and outreach initiatives.

For more information about Do It in the Dark, visit:

To find out how you can get involved in sustainability at UBC, visit: