Sparked with friendly competition and the will to help decrease Harvard’s environmental impact, eight finalists came together in early December to present their individual eco-projects and compete for first place in this fall’s Eco-Project Competition. The competition encourages people in the houses to come up with projects that promote sustainability on campus, and has had a long standing tradition of creating innovative projects that both educate and change behavior.

This semester has been no exception. The Fall Eco-Project Competition saw a slew of creative projects, ranging from Lowell House reducing disposable waste by bringing plastic mugs to Brainbreak to Adams House encouraging local agriculture by starting an herb garden. Some projects even reduce costs while saving the environment. One tutor-led project re-calibrated toilets to decrease water wasted from overactive flushing toilets, which is estimated to save 0.5 gallons of water per flush!

This fall, 22 eco-projects were submitted. Of the 22 projects, Kelly Evans, a senior from Adams House, won third place for creating and instituting the Adams House Green Party Kit, which helps decrease disposable waste generated at student parties and tutor study breaks. Charles James, a senior in Leverett House, won second place and $75 for creating Lev Bikes, a House bike-sharing program that features an on-line checkout system. First place and the prize of $150 went to Dan Bear, a senior from Adams House, and Sam Bjork, a senior from Eliot House. Their winning project created a website that generates a visual representation of energy use on campus and helps to, as Bjork said, “foster inter-house competitions, or even aid administrators as they identify targets for future reductions.”

As students prepare for the Spring Eco-Project Competition, there will be, without a doubt, an additional host of creative projects generated to help further reduce Harvard’s environmental impact. But in the nature of this competition, what else can you expect? As Bear said, “Everyone knows there are certain things you have to do to help resource efficiency - turning off lights, eating lower on the food chain, etc. - but most Harvard students love coming up with their own ideas, and this competition is a great opportunity.”