February 5, 2009
Syracuse University CarbonRally Everyone Is a Winner
Syracuse University might have lost to the University of Notre Dame in a recent online competition to reduce carbon dioxide emissions in the atmosphere, but according to Melissa Cadwell, “We were winners.”
Cadwell, marketing manager for the Sustainability Division of Energy and Computing Management at SU, spent part of last October planning how the division could raise awareness for the NBC-sponsored online carbon rally.
For one month, starting Nov. 22, SU and Notre Dame students logged onto CarbonRally.com, where they could accept challenges that would significantly reduce carbon, Cadwell said. The Website suggested sharing a ride to work or school once a week, which would reduce carbon emissions by 26 pounds, or packing waste-free lunches every day for a month, a 44.6 pound reduction.
According to a Jan. 29 article in The Daily Orange, Notre Dame beat SU, 1,932 members to 1,446. In just one month, rally participants succeeded in reducing 80 tons of atmospheric CO2, the DO reported.
“Overall, even though we didn’t win the $10,000 prize, it was a very great competition,” said Cadwell, who does not yet know how the university will spend its $2,500 reward for placing second.
But one issue that may have hurt SU’s numbers was its limited exposure.
According to Ann-Catherine Browne, the division’s database coordinator, newsletters highlighting the rally were sent to those already signed up to receive monthly “Sustainable News You Can Use” bulletins. SUNews also sent information about the rally to students’ SU email accounts. But, Carissa Matthews, a senior public relations major and creator of the Facebook group “Help SU Beat Notre Dame,” still thinks publicity could have been handled differently.
“It would have been really helpful if the athletic department had sent out a message to all season-ticket holders,” said Matthews, who had hoped that those students who cared primarily about the notion of beating Notre Dame would join the rally and thereby be introduced to the idea of carbon cutting for the first time.
Matthews also voiced frustration that many students pay little attention to SUNews emails, and that the DO didn’t cover the rally until results of SU’s loss were already in.
Still, Cadwell is pleased with the outcome of the initiative.
“Any way you look at it, by reducing the amount of tons of carbon that we did here, we were winners.”