Mix of projects on campus is essential to sustainability success

Carleton University’s sustainability officer, Murdo Murchison, is introducing new programs that will make the university even greener. (Tayleigh Armstrong Photo)

Last year, Carleton went green. This year, it’s going greener.

Smart decision-making on small and large projects at Carleton have been key to the success of sustainability initiatives on campus over the past year and the future looks even better, says the university’s sustainability officer.

Murdo Murchison has a laundry list of projects that have gone a long way to make Carleton greener. And he’s pleased that the new buildings under construction on campus will also have sustainable elements.

“The great thing is that sustainability often leads to cost savings,” says Murchison.

Carleton’s two new academic buildings are on track to receive the highest rating possible in the Green Globe sustainability rating system, thanks to a 10 kW solar array on the River building’s roof, as well as other sustainable building practices.

But Murchison says that smaller renovations and other kinds of initiatives can also make a big difference.

For instance, last year the university challenged students living in two residences to reduce energy and water use under a pilot program called Rewire. It was such a success, that the challenge will be put to students living in all 10 residences at Carleton this fall. Under the program, students are encouraged to sign a sustainability pledge. Every month, they’ll be shown their energy and water consumption statistics, and challenged to reduce both numbers.

Meanwhile, washroom audits were conducted throughout the summer across campus, resulting in a proposal to add aerators that will reduce water flow from taps. As well, two residences were recently renovated to add ultra low-flow shower heads to conserve water.

“With the price of water these days, the renovations will pay for themselves within less than a year,” says Murchison

Also, all kitchens in the University Centre will begin collecting organics this fall. Once that program is up and running, compost bins will be placed for public use around campus later this year, and Murchison hopes to get students involved to help personalize the campaign.

“Having students out there at lunchtime reminding other students of what can or can’t be composted will really make the difference,” he says.

This type of student engagement is a top priority for Murchison. He has been working with professors to create class projects that give the students real-world experience and help the university, such as having public policy students look at sustainable policy on campus or having biology students do a study on pesticides (which are now banned on campus because of their research.)

“It takes some time to set it up, but it’s worth it,” he says. “It’s completely mutually beneficial.”

http://www.carleton.ca/physicalplant/sustainability/.

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Tayleigh Armstrong

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