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Wellness month aims to get students thinking green

Turn off the TV, unplug the laptop, turn down the hot water!

March is Environmental Wellness Month at UNB, and that means making an effort to reduce wasted energy on campus.

Spearheaded by the Campus Wellness Committee, Facilities Management, Sodexo, the Student Union and the Campus Ministry, this month holds many events and challenges, all with the goal of getting people involved in reducing UNB’s energy usage.

The Residence Energy Challenge is of the main initiatives this month, taking place in virtually every residence on campus. The goal is to inform students of easy, everyday ways that they can minimize their energy footprint – turning off your computer, for example, uses 84 to 87 per cent less energy than leaving it running. Students should be aware of their Phantom Load – the wasted energy used up by electronic devices while plugged in, even when turned off. Unplugging TVs, game consoles, computers, and cell phone chargers can save approximately 2-6 watts per day.

Sodexo Canada, which has been named one of Canada’s greenest employers, has already held a Waste-Less Day, where students are asked to scrape the waste from their own plates into three separate bins over the lunch hour. On March 29, they will host Dine in the Dark at McLeod and McConnell Halls, where dinner will be served by candlelight – perhaps an opportunity for romance if your crush finds energy conservation a turn-on.

While the purpose of this month is to get students actively involved with energy conservation, UNB has actually been working on saving energy for decades. Beginning in the 1970s, UNB formalized its effort into the Energy Management Program in 1996. Tom Gilmore, Energy Manager at Facilities Management, said the project is saving UNB energy in many ways, including steam, electricity and water retrofits.

“Many of the upgrades you see in buildings today have an energy-saving component,” Gilmore said. “In addition to that there are many projects that have been completed saving energy consumption that the average eye would never see.”

Gillian McLean of the Campus Wellness Committee said energy conservation initiatives on campus have made a difference in the past. She said since 1996, UNB has realized electricity consumption reductions equivalent to supplying 2,845 homes with electricity for a year, water conservation enough to fill the Fredericton water towers 764 times, and CO2 emissions avoided equivalent to planting 4,722,867 trees.

“We believe it’s important for everyone to be aware of the impact they have on the environment – students included,” said McLean. “Every effort matters and makes a difference.”

While Gilmore said the main problem of energy loss at UNB is the aging buildings, as their heritage status complicates the replacement of leaky windows and doors, ultimately it’s the students and staff that have the most to contribute to keeping UNB green.

“Technology can only reduce so far, at the end of the day we all have to look at how we are using energy and be responsible about it,” he said. “Environmental Awareness Month is a great mechanism to raise awareness and get people talking.”

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