rabble blogs are the personal pages of some of Canada's most insightful progressive activists and commentators. All opinions belong to the writer; however, writers are expected to adhere to our guidelines. We welcome new bloggers -- contact us for details.

University of Victoria takes an energy break

Please chip in to support rabble's election 2019 coverage. Support rabble.ca today for as little as $1 per month!

While most of us went on break, the University of Victoria (UVic) was attempting a "green holiday break."

Between December 25 and January 3, UVic turned thermostats down to 16 degrees Celsius (except temperature-sensitive areas), turned off exhaust fans, fume hoods, and turned off building lights (where possible). Staff were encouraged to turn off their computers, printers, copiers and other equipment in their offices and work areas.

The university projected that in exercising conservative energy-saving practices, they could reduce their carbon consumption by 41 tonnes during the 10-day period. UVic was not able to provide actual results of the "energy break" as of press time.

"Sure, it's great UVic is powering down for the winter break, turning off lights and building heat," said Edward Pullman from the University of Victoria's Sustainability Project (UVSP). He pondered, however, what other steps could be taken. "Are these steps that have been taken applied overnight and on the weekends as well? Do they keep the heat on overnight when possibly one or two people are burning the midnight oil? This is a good initiative, but is it really relevant if this is something we aren't changing our practices for the other 50 weeks of the year?"

While reducing the greenhouse gas consumption of university buildings is only a modest portion of our energy use as a campus, it is a necessary first step in moving campus beyond carbon neutral. UVic is taking other steps, however, especially in new buildings.

CommonEnergy, a network of university, community and regional partners working to create solutions to the problems of climate change state that "by achieving Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) ratings on several projects, UVic has already made commendable progress in reducing greenhouse gas emissions from new buildings. In order to reduce greenhouse gas emissions further and reach climate neutrality, our existing buildings need to be retrofitted to LEED standards or better."

Last summer the Canada Green Building Council recognized the Social Sciences and Mathematics Building's acquiring of the LEED gold standard in building design. It is the third building on campus to achieve this recognition, preceded by the Medical Sciences and Engineering/Computer Science Buildings, which also obtained gold status.

Some people argue that there's more to green buildings than LEED certification, however.
"Terms LEED certification or living buildings are only reference points of sustainable design," said Jay Worthing, a UBC architecture student and co-founder of the UBC Emerging Green Builders. "Rather than looking at buildings as autonomous energy users, universities ought to look at the campus as an energy system of interconnected buildings, especially because universities have a unique opportunity to do so with multiple buildings on a single land base. How is the university operating on a community level?"

UVic is starting consultation for their next strategic plan, which outlines the overall direction of the university for the next five years. Students and members of the university community will have the opportunity to give input into the future sustainability of the university during the consultation period.

This article was originally published in the Martlet, the University of Victoria students' newspaper.

Thank you for reading this story…

More people are reading rabble.ca than ever and unlike many news organizations, we have never put up a paywall – at rabble we’ve always believed in making our reporting and analysis free to all, while striving to make it sustainable as well. Media isn’t free to produce. rabble’s total budget is likely less than what big corporate media spend on photocopying (we kid you not!) and we do not have any major foundation, sponsor or angel investor. Our main supporters are people and organizations -- like you. This is why we need your help. You are what keep us sustainable.

rabble.ca has staked its existence on you. We live or die on community support -- your support! We get hundreds of thousands of visitors and we believe in them. We believe in you. We believe people will put in what they can for the greater good. We call that sustainable.

So what is the easy answer for us? Depend on a community of visitors who care passionately about media that amplifies the voices of people struggling for change and justice. It really is that simple. When the people who visit rabble care enough to contribute a bit then it works for everyone.

And so we’re asking you if you could make a donation, right now, to help us carry forward on our mission. Make a donation today.

Comments

We welcome your comments! rabble.ca embraces a pro-human rights, pro-feminist, anti-racist, queer-positive, anti-imperialist and pro-labour stance, and encourages discussions which develop progressive thought. Our full comment policy can be found here. Learn more about Disqus on rabble.ca and your privacy here. Please keep in mind:

Do

  • Tell the truth and avoid rumours.
  • Add context and background.
  • Report typos and logical fallacies.
  • Be respectful.
  • Respect copyright - link to articles.
  • Stay focused. Bring in-depth commentary to our discussion forum, babble.

Don't

  • Use oppressive/offensive language.
  • Libel or defame.
  • Bully or troll.
  • Post spam.
  • Engage trolls. Flag suspect activity instead.