Energy conservation event asks
students to power down
residence staff and students at Western
University have turned an energy conservation initiative into a program with serious
buzz. Rez Powers Down, scheduled to take
place Sept. 28 to Oct. 11, was expecting up to
5,000 students living in nine residence halls
to compete to see which building could
conserve the most energy. Students in the winning building receive a cash prize for “building
improvement” amounting to 25 percent of the
savings on the utility
bill for all residences
combined. And then
there are bragging
rights, says Jerry Shum, the assistant residence
programming coordinator tasked with running
Rez Powers Down in previous years.
When Mr. Shum was first assigned the
event in 2010, it was an uninspiring educational initiative with posters placed around
the residence and dining halls. Things began
to change in 2012, when the inter-residence
component was introduced. Western launched
a real-time campus energy consumption meter
that allowed staff to easily determine a baseline of each hall’s energy consumption levels.
Mr. Shum took it a step further in 2013 by
adding more “active programming” including
candlelight dinners with battery-operated tea
lights and recyclable fashion shows. The pro-
gram even found an unofficial mascot when
a student staffer donned a green morphsuit
(a full-body spandex costume) and walked
through the halls offering energy-saving tips.
By the end of last year’s Rez Powers Down,
each hall had reduced energy consumption by
between 6. 5 and 16. 5 percent. According to
Angela Treglia, programming coordinator for
the office of residence education and programs
with the department of housing, Western has
saved more than $20,000 over five years.
For Mr. Shum, the real sign of the program’s success is the effect it has had on student behaviour. In addition to urging one another to take the stairs instead of the elevator,
students hosted their own informal events
like lights-out movie screenings.
Ms. Treglia, meanwhile, sees the project
as a success because of the learning and experience it has brought student leaders. That’s
certainly true for Mr. Shum, who says he’s
transitioning into a new role in residence
this year but still intends to help out, “even if
it means running around in a morphsuit.”
– natalie samson
By the end of last year’s
event, each hall had
reduced energy consumption by up to 16. 5 percent.
Take a seat on the friendship bench
Wendy Cukier, vice-president, research and innovation, at Ryerson
University, quoted in the September/October 2015 issue of Canadian
Universities have to take a long, hard look
at themselves … In the current environment
universities have to be thinking about the
employability of their graduates.
carleton university students would have
a tough time ignoring the presence of the
bright yellow bench in their main quad – and
that’s the point. The vividly painted bench,
installed in September, is meant to be a daily
visual reminder for students to open up and
talk about mental health issues.
The bench is the first of several to be installed at schools across Canada this year by
Canadian non-profit The Friendship Bench.
The initiative is a tribute to Lucas Fiorella,
a second-year Carleton robotics student who
took his own life last October after suffering
silently with depression.
Sam Fiorella, Lucas’ father and co-founder of The Friendship Bench says many people don’t ask for help in spite of the resources
available. He says after Lucas’s death, peers
reached out to the Fiorella family to share
stories of how Lucas had helped them when
they needed support, perhaps even saving
their lives. That’s what inspired Mr. Fiorella,
who is hoping the benches will be part of his
son’s legacy by helping to remove the stigma
of mental health issues on campus and reminding students to look out for one another.
– shawna wagman