Sarah Cordonier has been interested in “going green” for a while now. She tries to be friendly to the planet because she knows her actions have an impact on the environment. Little did she know they would also make her a winner at West Virginia University.

Cordonier is the first individual Ecolympian crowned in the annual Ecolympics recycling and energy conservation challenge, organized by WeCan, WVU’s sustainability program. The competition has been challenging staff and students to compete as a group in their buildings since 2007, but this year an individual category was added to draw attention to the difference just one person can make.

Cordonier earned points for herself and her residence hall in the competition by volunteering for WVU’s gameday recycling program Mountaineers Recycle, attending a lecture on energy use and recycling old electronics, among other activities.

“Unfortunately, many people don’t recycle because they’re unaware of the negative effects that waste has on the environment,” Cordonier said. “Ecolympics is a great way to educate people on the positive impacts that recycling adds to our everyday lives.”

“We wanted to add this category to help students and staff focus on instituting small changes in their daily habits that can add up to big differences for the environment,” said Traci Liebig, conservation specialist in WVU’s Facilities Management. “A lot of the actions participants could take also had more practical and personal implications—such as saving money on transportation and food, or learning something new about how we effect our world.”

The new category prompted sustainable actions taken by more than 200 staff and students. In addition to the new individual category, the competition kept its residence hall and campus building divisions. Stalnaker Hall repeated its residence hall victory from last year by recycling about 2 pounds per person each week of the competition and reducing energy consumption by 37 percent during October. Agricultural Sciences took home top campus building honors for the first time, with an energy reduction of 42 percent and more than1,600 pounds of recycling. Seven buildings in the competition reduced energy consumption by more than 20 percent during the competition.

Residence hall winners will receive $3,000-worth of prizes for building use, while Agricultural Sciences employees will be treated to a free lunch. Cordonier will receive a medal and other eco-minded goodies. A public awards presentation for Cordonier and the other winners will be held on Thursday, Jan. 24 at 11:30 a.m. in the Mountainlair Commons. Immediately following the ceremony, in conjunction with the Ecolympics theme of increased recycling and energy conservation, Evive will sign up water bottle recipients in anticipation of the second round of water filling stations that will be installed across campus this spring. Evive Stations offer a sustainable way to access clean and filtered water. The primary goal behind this sustainability initiative is to reduce the number of single-use bottles on campus that impact the economic, environmental and social bottom lines.

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CONTACT: Traci Liebig, Conservation Specialist

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