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UNB takes on One Million Acts of Green

UNB is shedding the red and black in favour of green.

This year UNB’s sustainability program and local business GreenNexxus are partnering up to bring the One Million Acts of Green challenge to the UNB campus.

One Million Acts of Green is based off a program of sustainability engagement systems created by GreenNexxus. By registering at Greenunb.ca, students can start recording their “acts of green” online.

“Basically One Million Acts of Green is … a software that people can use to keep track of what they can do to be green and it feeds back to them the metrics associated with that,” said Peter Corbyn, chief of green at GreenNexxus.

Acts of green include actions like changing to energy-efficient light bulbs, walking instead of driving and purchasing locally-grown produce.

“They can see what the environmental impact is of those actions in terms of production of greenhouse gases, water saved and energy saved,” said Corbyn.

The goal is that by the end of winter term students will have performed one million environmentally responsible actions.

The challenge launches on Oct. 1 with a promotional fair, featuring local environmental non-profit groups, at lunchtime in the SUB quad.

The program will go beyond simply recording sustainable actions, however. The UNB Sustainability Program has planned a year of engaging students, faculty and staff in becoming more aware of promoting sustainable lifestyles.

Each month will have a specific theme such as transportation, energy, water and environmental wellness.

October is food and waste month. Among the many activities planned are a waste-less meal provided by Sodexo and a virtual classroom with David Suzuki and friends on Oct. 6.

“We’re just doing different things around campus to try to get individuals engaged,” said Danielle Smith, sustainability coordinator for UNB Facilities Management.

The challenge will also provide the platform for a study by the sustainability program.

“One of the neat things about One Million Acts of Green that we’re also trying on the back end of this is a study,” Smith said.

“So the idea is to figure out through a big engagement campaign like [One] Million Acts of Green whether or not engagement of the faculty and students will translate into any sort of cost savings and energy savings that the university might have.”

The One Million Acts of Green challenge began at the national level in 2008. It was hosted by CBC’s George Stroumboulopoulous on his show The Hour and raised nearly two million acts of green. GreenNexxus now runs their programs on the smaller scale of universities and corporate clients.

“Basically what One Million Acts of Green is now is the same thing with CBC except it can be branded with partners like what we’re doing with UNB,” Corbyn said.

Despite the fact that GreenNexxus is based in Fredericton, this year marks the first time that UNB has participated in the challenge.

Although the ultimate goal is to raise one million acts of green, raising awareness and promoting an environmentally-sustainable lifestyle is really what the program is all about.

“Before a lot of the focus was on environmental and being green but sustainability is an all-encompassing idea of being more sustainable economically, environmentally and socially,” Smith said.

“It’s a great idea and I think in order for us to move forward as a country, as a province, as a city, we need to do this in order for there to be a good place to be for future generations.”

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