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Environment, Science and Technology
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Posted March 20, 2008
Education Conservation

Students go green in tri-university challenge

Waterloo - The University of Waterloo has won a two-month-long Residence [Water and Electricity] Reduction Challenge, coming out ahead of the University of Guelph and Queen’s University and winning a solar panel to be installed on campus.

The University of Waterloo Sustainability Project (UWSP) worked with Sierra Youth Coalition (the project was under SYC’s Sustainable Campuses Project) and groups at Queen’s and Guelph to organize the challenge, which received funding through the Ontario Ministry of Energy. UWSP took the challenge to St. Jerome’s University, Conrad Grebel University College, St. Paul’s United College, and Renison College. Residence staff, dons, and residents took over from there. The event wound up on March 14, with St. Paul’s showing the greatest reduction by far — 62 per cent in the water use category.

“The goals of the Residence Reduction Challenge were to engage students in residences and give them the knowledge they need to reduce their energy, water and waste consumption in a space in which they live, work and learn,” says a press release from Rob Blom, UWSP co-ordinator. "‘It was nice to see the residence colleges pull together and organize this initiative so successfully within a short period of time,' Blom says. ‘This really shows the sustainable community culture that exists in our college residences.’”

The final stats: Grebel reduced water use by 14 per cent, Renison by -8 per cent, St. Jerome’s by 18 per cent, and St. Paul’s by 62 per cent. Grebel reduced electricity use by 4.1 per cent, Renison by -6.4 per cent, St. Jerome’s by 3.1 per cent, and St. Paul’s by 4.3 per cent. Blom notes, however, that the figures from the second month are not yet in, so the final picture may change. The data — from utility bills — compares the months of November 2007 and January 2008. “December was not included for obvious reasons. … I'm awaiting the February results within one to two weeks.”

Blom adds, “The solar panel will likely be incorporated into an initiative by STEP (Sustainable Technology Educational Project — a working group within UWSP) to retrofit Village I with solar heating technology. The panel will likely power an information board that showcases the energy and costs saved with this retrofitting.”

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