Grad Students Commit to Energy Project, Pledges Now Exceed $6.4 Million

April 08, 2008 - News Release

Graduate students at the University of Guelph 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 this week asking them to contribute roughly $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 in which 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 of the money raised, earmarking all of 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," said Michael Schumaker, president of U of G's 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 only here for 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," said student Derek Pieper, a biological sciences undergraduate who helped lead last year's effort.

"I'm thrilled that the graduate students have joined the 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 said they hope the government and students at other universities start or make contributions to similar projects.

President Alastair Summerlee said he is “delighted and proud” of the graduate student referendum outcome and reiterated 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 conservation," he said.

"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."

Energy conservation, especially building retrofitting, has long been an important issue at U of G. The University has launched a number of initiatives in recent years to reduce energy consumption and has initiated some energy retrofit programs and engaged educational programming, which have had a positive impact on its overall energy consumption.

For media questions, contact Communications and Public Affairs: Lori Bona Hunt, 519-824-4120, Ext. 53338,, or Deirdre Healey, Ext. 56982,

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