Oct. is B.C. Hydro Power Smart month, which highlights ways in which energy conservation can be implemented and achieved. During the last few weeks of Oct. the Office of Environment and Sustainability at VIU hosted the event “How Low Can We Go” to encourage students to help VIU become a more sustainable institution. They metered 13 buildings on VIU’s Nanaimo campus and measure the collective efforts of students.

Margot Croft, an administrative assistant at the Office of Environment and Sustainability says that students can lead by example when being mindful of their energy expenditures. She stresses that, “being conservative with energy needs to become the norm, so working toward that goal will help.”

Q: What can students do to help VIU become a more sustainable institution?

A: Although it’s oft-repeated, turning off unneeded lights and equipment makes a difference. Lighting accounts for about 40 percent of VIU’s electricity costs per year and things that are plugged in about 20 percent. Of course there are lighting levels that need to be maintained, and some things can’t be unplugged and turned off. There are still opportunities to save energy by turning off monitors, making use of natural daylight rather than turning on a light, drawing blinds, as well as opening or closing doors as appropriate. And where it’s possible, behaviours like using the stairs rather than the elevator, and opening a door by one’s self rather than using the electric opener are some other ways to save energy. If there are other issues that need repair or attention, students can contact Facilities Services at <PhysicalPlant@viu.ca>. Q: What kind of feedback have you heard from students?

A: The thing I hear most (and this is the same at other institutions) is “Oh, I didn’t know I could.” Most people want to be sustainable, but it can be challenging to know how to achieve that in an institutional setting.

Q: What have the results been so far?

A: It’s a bit early to tell, but feedback has been positive. As well, it shows that there are questions about sustainability and how folks can participate more consistently. It can be surprising to see what sort of energy is used at VIU. According to the BC Utilities Commission, the average household in B.C. uses about 22.1918 kWh each day (so about 8100 kWh/yr) Even a 5 percent drop, which theoretically can be achieved through behaviour change in the electricity used for items that are plugged in, would be equivalent to running about 12 average B.C. homes for a year.

To see the energy saving results, visit <www.sites.viu.ca/sustainability/archives/category/uncategorized>. On Oct. 31, one lucky commenter will receive a Halloween themed surprise package.

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