Tracking Laurier’s ‘green’ progress

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Over the past year, Wilfrid Laurier University, in particular the sustainability office, has been implementing a variety of initiatives to ensure the campus is more ‘green’. Just recently, the sustainability office released their annual report highlighting the accomplishments of 2011 as well as their goals for the coming year.

Claire Bennett, the sustainability office coordinator at WLU, is confident that 2011 was a productive year in regards to ‘green’ living. “I really couldn’t have expected much better to be honest, we got so many projects implemented,” said Bennett, adding that students and faculty were large contributors to that success.

“It was definitely a partnership, and if you don’t have the support of people, it’s hard to get projects done, right?” she added.

The report emphasized various categories including energy and waste management, water control and community outreach, all of which Bennett believes have been a success. This, however, doesn’t mean that Bennett doesn’t want to improve in specific areas.

“I would like to see more stuff with alternative transportation,” she continued.
“This is just where we want to see ourselves grow.”

She noted that energy and waste management were the most improved, adding that Laurier achieved the minimum provincial requirement of 60 per cent for waste diversion.

“It’s pretty awesome for Laurier because we actually achieved it and I can comfortably say that most universities have not achieved that,” explained Bennett. “I met with my counterparts a few months ago and they were nowhere near the 60 per cent mark.”

Along with the report released by WLU, the Council of Ontario Universities (COU) also released a report highlighting the “green” initiatives made by numerous universities from the province.

“Laurier was cited often [in the report] for being particularly innovative and showing some leadership in that way,” said Mike Morrice, executive director of local environmental group Sustainable Waterloo. “One of the best examples is the sub-meter and the dashboard for real-time awareness for energy consumption.”

Launched recently, the building dashboard real-time energy-metering program developed by LUCID design allows anyone to view energy consumption of a particular building. WLU is the second university to implement such a program. It also received a $150,000 grant from the President’s Innovation Seed Fund (PISF).

Bennett was also active in setting up a sustainability representative residence program where one student from each residence promotes sustainable living.
Shelby Blackley, a first-year English student and the sustainable rep for Willison Hall, explained the program has been going smoothly so far.

“Since Laurier’s already so big on trying to be ‘green,’ we’re really trying to promote it in the residences as well,” she said. “To show people that we’re not just another council that’s like, ‘Yeah, we’re not really doing anything.’”

Just like Bennett mentioned, Blackley feels improvements could always be made. “Every residence you go into, they are either not separating their garbage from the recycling or the garbage is so full that when it comes time for collection, it’s already too much,” she added.

Bennett, as the office begins to work on projects for 2012, is certain that the goals outlined in the sustainability report will be met, though some slight funding concerns may remain.

“These goals I have for next year, I’m kind of an ambitious person so I’m more of like, ‘how are we going to get this done’ not ‘are we?’”


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