Never underestimate Kansas State University.
It's a theory held by many Kansas University sports fans and one the rest of Lawrence might want to heed as the Take Charge Challenge heads into its third month.
From doing an energy audit on the president's residence to developing a marketing campaign that features a female superhero and Willie the Wildcat, K-State has mapped out a serious game plan to win.
Since January, Lawrence and Manhattan have been competing to see who can save the most energy. The contest looks at which town is switching light bulbs to compact fluorescent ones, making the most energy-efficiency upgrades to homes and attending the most Take Charge Challenge events.
The winner of the challenge, which will last another six months, receives $100,000 to use toward a renewable energy product.
A scouting report of sorts was done Thursday at K-State's Sustainability Conference, where the university's Director of Sustainability Ben Champion spoke about the hard work being put into the challenge.
Along with the chance to split the $100,000 prize with the city of Manhattan, it was an opportunity to make lasting improvements to the school in terms of energy education and awareness, Champion said.
"I think for K-State, the Take Charge Challenge is just the beginning," Champion said.
Along with Champion, a host of other university leaders are on Manhattan's Take Charge Challenge leadership team, including K-State's first lady Noel Schulz and the university's communications and marketing manager.
The president's residence, a leaky 88-year-old home, recently underwent a home energy audit, which racks up points for Manhattan. The audit found that energy could be saved by sealing up air leaks, improving insulation and installing a programmable thermostat, said Casey Lauer, K-State's director of the energy and environment program.
He estimates that at least 23 percent in energy could be saved.
A greek house has also had an energy audit done and others are considering using the tool. Champion said K-State wants to focus on doing energy audits in the spring and make the upgrades in the summer when the students are gone.
K-State is also replacing street lighting with LEDs and installing light sensors in hallways, restrooms and offices. Through partnerships with local hardware stores, the university is handing out $1-off coupons for compact fluorescent light bulbs.
Perhaps the step Lawrence should be most concerned about is a promotional campaign that will use a female fine arts major as a superhero named Eco-Enforcer, who wears a costume made out of recycled athletic jerseys. Her backup will be Willie the Wildcat.
Of course, Lawrence and KU haven't been slackers. So far, in Lawrence free CFLs were handed at the competition's kick-off in January, and local home energy auditors are swamped with work.
But whether Lawrence is any match for the Eco-Enforcer has yet to be determined.