Grad Students Boost Campus Energy Project
Pledges for energy conservation now exceed $6.4 million
BY LORI BONA HUNT
U of G graduate students have voted to contribute to improve energy efficiency on campus, bringing the total student commitment to more than $5 million over the next 12 years.
They approved a student-initiated referendum in early April asking them to contribute about $20 a year in new fees for energy conservation measures on campus through 2020, a pledge worth nearly $700,000.
The initiative succeeds and mirrors action taken by Guelph undergraduate students last spring when they pledged $4.3 million for energy improvements over the next 12 years.
Faculty, staff and alumni have also committed to the project, giving more than $36,000 to date and making pledges through to 2013 that exceed $1.4 million.
The University will match all the money raised, earmarking all the funds for energy conservation measures, which may range from lighting and heating to water efficiency to retrofitting.
“I'm very pleased to see this happen,” says Michael Schumaker, president of the Graduate Students' Association. “This is a fantastic project. Now all students at the University have demonstrated that they are concerned about their energy footprint and want to make a contribution to reducing it. Each student is here for only a certain amount of time, but now we'll all be doing something to leave an important mark here.”
The referendum was approved by 63 per cent of voting graduate students.
“This is an amazing result,” says student Derek Pieper, a biological sciences undergraduate who helped lead last year's effort.
“I'm thrilled that graduate students have joined undergraduates in supporting the campus energy retrofit initiative. This result reaffirms Guelph students' commitment to making a difference toward reducing our environmental impact.”
Both Pieper and Schumaker say they hope the government and students at other universities start or make contributions to similar projects.
President Alastair Summerlee says he's “delighted and proud” about the graduate student referendum outcome and reiterates that energy conservation is a shared responsibility.
“We all need to think differently about how we use energy to reduce our environmental footprint, and we are fortunate to have an extraordinary university community that works together to solve many problems, including energy conser- vation.”
He adds that this initiative “gives our students, staff and faculty the opportunity to play an active role while demonstrating the University's commitment to constantly monitoring and improving its energy use.”