Education News – University residences at the forefront of green action

Education News – University residences at the forefront of green action

WINNIPEG (CUP) ? Canadian universities are starting to make their campuses more environmentally sustainable by converting on-campus residences into green buildings.

?One of the largest cost-savings from doing a green building or an energy-efficiency retrofit is that the health and productivity of the people that use the building increases dramatically,? said Nicholas Heap, climate and energy policy analyst for the David Suzuki Foundation.

?What I think is important is that universities invest wholeheartedly in energy efficiency and upgrades because of the cost-savings that result,? he added.

The University of Ottawa recently changed residence lights to energy-efficient bulbs, cutting down on wasted electricity.

Jonathan Rausseo, sustainable development co-ordinator at the U of O, says the money spent on the ?lightbulb swap? was made back in a matter of months.

?The payback is almost instantaneous,? he said. ?It was incredible.?

The University of Ottawa also has a green residence committee where each residence building has a green representative. This committee is responsible for brainstorming and carrying out proposals to make residence buildings more environmentally stable and sustainable.

A number of incentives are taking place to make residences at the University of Calgary more environmentally friendly.

So far, the U of C has replaced lighting systems within all residence buildings, thereby using less energy.

The university is also in the process of installing low-flow programs by metering the amount of water usage within residence buildings.

As well, they have started a new recycling program in residence that includes composting.

?We want to be more environmentally conscious . . . reduce the footprint of campus and residency buildings,? said Randy Maus, the U of C’s associate director of housing and residence education.

The University of Victoria residence has a sustainability team made up of students who live on campus. These students work together to endorse environmental sustainability through events such as movie nights, and a clothing swap that saw about 400 students exchange clothes to reduce the amount of items being thrown out.

In 2008, UVic started a program giving free access to the Victoria car-share co-op to students who gave up their parking permits.

?The concept is instead of owning and operating your own vehicle, you borrow or rent vehicles from the co-op and you have access to 16 vehicles in the city, and four that are on campus,? said Sarah Webb, UVic’s sustainability officer.

Webb says this provides incentive for people to stop using their vehicles and rewards those who have already gone car-free.

UVic is also looking at getting carbon footprint calculators on campus and initiating bring-your-own-bottle events.