By Nhial Tiitmamer
The Green Campus Advisory Committee at University of Alberta’s Augustana Campus is working hard to help achieve the University of Alberta’s vision of being a leader in environmental sustainability. Dr. Glynnis Hood, the committee chairperson, said they are working within the “parameters” of the university policy on sustainability to see what the campus can do through its own initiatives, adding that “It would be nice if Augustana could lead the university and show what a small campus can do.”
Dr. Hood, who is also an Assistant Professor of Environmental Science/Studies, said the Green Campus Advisory Committee has been mandated to advise the campus administration on ensuring environmental sustainability is considered in all campus operations, which include curriculum, teaching, research, purchasing, food services, energy conservation, transportation, land use, campus planning, maintenance and development of new facilities, among others.
Asked about what the committee is doing to meet its goals, Dr. Hood said they are considering a number of programs. These programs include a comprehensive waste recycling program to ensure containers for different types of wastes are put in all buildings on campus, an energy audit program to ensure sustainable energy use and spending, local food initiatives to ensure more local food is served by the campus cafeteria, working with campus landscape committee to provide feedback on landscaping options, and, in the future, working with the City of Camrose on local green issues such as transportation. The committee embarked on a commuter challenge project last year as a way to find an alternative form of transportation. As well, the committee is also cooperating with Alberta Agriculture and Rural Development to use the Augustana Cafeteria as a pilot project for local food sourcing. The committee considers an increase in the use of local food by the campus cafeteria as environmentally sustainable because local food does not require long distance transportation, which consumes more energy and increases the carbon footprint on the environment.
Dr. Hood also said students are working with the committee on the recycling of batteries, cans and on a bike co-op program. The bike co-op program is an effort to reduce carbon footprints by using bikes as alternative forms of transportation. The students presented their plans to the committee in a meeting on November 17, 2008.
Other initiatives the committee is working on include: auditing courses to see which ones include sustainability, in addition to putting sustainability as a part of core requirements when students choose their courses; exploring teleconferencing opportunities instead of driving to Edmonton for meetings; and, putting up a website to help spread green ideas. To help the committee in its endeavours, it has employed a part time Campus Sustainability Coordinator to implement campus green initiatives, which include helping with research and liaising with student groups.
Augustana Campus also recently added two hybrid vehicles to its fleet. Augustana is one of the first campuses to obtain a hybrid vehicles as part of its fleet. Augustana has also replaced old fixtures with low flush toilets, low flow showers fixtures and energy efficient lighting in many of its buildings.
Some of the challenges facing the campus, according to Dr. Hood, include cutting its carbon footprint related to driving and maintening unsustainable old buildings. She said North Hall, one of the older buildings on campus, will likely be replaced with something that is more sustainable in a matter of time.