Campus News

Published by Communications and Public Affairs 519 824-4120, Ext. 56982 or 53338

News Release

April 04, 2007

Students Commit $4.3 Million to Energy Conservation

Undergraduate students at the University of Guelph have committed more than $4.3 million to improve energy efficiency on campus.

They recently approved a student-initiated referendum that asked them to contribute $10 per semester for the next 12 years to go toward energy conservation measures on campus, which may range from lighting and heating to water efficiency to retrofitting.

The University will match the money raised, earmarking all of the funds for energy conservation.

“I’m thrilled,” said Adam Scott, a U of G student who helped lead the referendum campaign. “This really shows that students care about the environment and are willing to take action, even if that action means a few extra dollars out of their pockets.”

The referendum was proposed by the Student Executive Council (SEC), a broad coalition of all student governments, and Guelph Students for Environmental Change’s Renewable Energy Group.

President Alastair Summerlee said he is “delighted and proud” of the outcome. “The students who organized the referendum displayed incredible initiative and successfully mobilized the student body around this very important cause,” he said.

The referendum was approved by a 14-per-cent margin. It’s the first student question that included a fee increase of $10 or more to be approved in several years.

“This says a lot about students’ concern for the environmental impact the University has and confirms its reputation as a leader in environmental initiatives,” said Derek Pieper, a fourth-year biological sciences major who co-chairs Student Senate Caucus and is a member of SEC. “I think there’s a sense that individuals can take some responsibility for a shared challenge.”

Pieper added that the student referendum has broader implications. “Hopefully this result will encourage students at other universities to press for energy conservation at other Canadian institutions, and I certainly hope that other members of the campus community take note of this action by the students and contribute to the cause.”

Faculty and staff also have the opportunity to contribute to the ongoing energy conservation efforts and can pledge a portion of their salary each pay period or make one-time or ongoing contributions, with that money also being matched by the University.

All money raised in these programs will go into a special account that will be monitored by the Senate Committee on University Planning, which has representation from faculty, staff and students.

“We have an extraordinary campus and work together to solve many problems,” said Summerlee. “Reducing our energy consumption should be one of these issues.”

Energy conservation, especially building retrofitting, has long been an important issue at U of G, he added. The University has launched a number of initiatives in recent years to reduce energy consumption and would like to do even more, but the money just isn’t there to make significant upfront investments while addressing other ongoing maintenance issues, he said.

The University has initiated some energy retrofit programs and engaged educational programming, which have had a positive impact on its overall energy consumption. The University has also identified a list of projects that it wishes to complete to further green our campus, which are available online.

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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