Green Impact Guelph

Monday, March 17, 2008

Last summer while leaving office hours at thecannon.ca, Union Gas of Guelph was staffing a table in the UC courtyard. In exchange for your signature you received a $45 kit with a 2 faucet aerators, teflon tape, pipe insulation and one compact fluorescent light bulb. Come September, there was another package on the porch of my newly rented house.

The one thing that strikes me is the wastefulness that comes along with a university degree. In first year, living in South Rez, there was no talk about conserving energy, water or anything. I moved in a week before O-week to try out for a sports team. In a residence that held around 2000 residents, there were about 30 people. Just like in 1984, it was the place where there was no darkness. The halls were lit up like a Christmas Tree, the bathrooms never went dark (even on the floors that no one had moved into) every street lamp and walk way light was on even though it seemed like there was absolutely no one on campus, and even in sleep you couldn't escape the light with the the smoke detector blinking a green glow from the ceiling. With the constant buzz of electricity and humanity through out the year, the last thing one thinks about is how to conserve energy.

Once living on my own, and actually paying my own bills, it becomes much more obvious how much we use in resources. With the world turning digital, it is sometimes forgotten how we run this digital world. It has been almost forgotten this year that the Bullring has been switched to wind power. It was only last year that Guelph was (and really still is) staring down the possibility of a pipeline from Lake Erie. This spring, Green Impact Guelph (GIG) is running a survey of Guelph residents to assess people's willingness to reduce resource consumption in Guelph. Until March 23rd Guelph residents can take the survey at the Guelph GIG website Once completed, participants are able to enter to win numerous prizes.

As a student, even if someone is not interested in the environmental impacts of our daily routines, the monetary impact on our wallets is of great importance as well. The free light bulb can save around $7.00 in electricity per year, in my house that makes about $114 each year. And that is simply by having the light bulbs in the sockets, not even any conservation beyond that. The wasteful experience of residence in not what I will take away from university. In looking back, if I used as much energy now as I did then I'd be eating at the CSA food bank for sure because it is simply too much.

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  1. Posted by: chad on Mar 21, 2008 @ 2:01pm

    It's to keep the ghosts away. Derr.

    While rez can be a great time, it does tend to infantilize students.
    Far from teaching someone how to live independently, food is ready whenever you want it, you only need to be responsible for about 200 sq ft [and some can't handle that] while you focus on your studies, and if something breaks it is a problem for maintenance to deal with.

    Narrow focus can be a great tool/technique, but when it is systematically encouraged at the institutional level does much to compartmentalize the different aspects of your life, and create a hierarchy that places school studies near the top [rightly so? perhaps.], personal responsibility and awareness of consequences less so.

    [Of course, living in any of the apartment and townhouse style rez buildings can change the situation, with kitchens and all of that, but if you give someone an option of no effort vs effort, I think "human nature" (ie. laziness) usually wins out, and you line up at Creelman or wherever.]

  2. Posted by: on Mar 22, 2008 @ 2:34pm

    So we should have "lights out" at 11 pm in South, geez then it really will be a prison.

    The idea is nice, but the safety issues far outweigh shutting down lights nightly.

  3. Posted by: Alison on Mar 25, 2008 @ 9:46pm

    It would be nice if the residences could update their lighting systems for bathrooms to work like those in the Science Complex. I'm not sure whether it works by sound or movement, but the lights in many rooms of the Science Complex will turn off by themselves after a certain amount of time, and on again when someone enters the room. Then again, I wonder whether the system used for this consumes as much energy as if the lights were on constantly.

  4. Posted by: Kim on Mar 30, 2008 @ 9:39pm


    the act of turning on lights (regardless of whether those lights are incandescent, halogen, LED, fluorescent or otherwise) actually requires VERY little startup energy. Many people falsely believe that its saves energy to leave the lights on for a long period of time rather than turning them on and off all of the time, but this is simply not the case.

    The 'startup energy' of turning on a light (such as a fluorescent light) is actually recovered within a fraction of a second after initially flicking the switch on.

    Motion detectors in bathrooms and offices have actually decreased the amount of energy used significantly when this calculation is taken into consideration.

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