Student Projects Make For A Sustainable Campus

Thursday, March 28, 2013

Picture of crayons and a bottle of glue used to make posters for student campus sustainability projects at the University of Ottawa

When you think campus sustainability you might think that the solution is more trees or solar panels. What about a campus sound map, or a campus recyclopedia, or maybe a residence neighbourgoods program?

Students in the first year Global Environmental Challenges course (ENV 1101B) recently handed in their poster projects for the semester. Their assignment... make the campus more sustainable in their own little way.

This semester the course was taught by Dr. Sonia Wesche who decided to work with the Office of Campus Sustainability through the Community Service Learning program in order to give students a chance to have the opportunity to do some hands on work to improve campus sustainability (yet another Living Laboratory project). And I can tell you that the students did not disappoint.

Every project was amazing but I only have enough time to highlight a couple.

Campus Noise Map

Concept: Create a noise map of the campus that shows the highest levels of noise.
Rational: Noise levels have a huge impact on your ability to study and focus. Having a quiet environment to do your work can make all the difference.
Product: The group created an online map that shows the noise levels outdoors on campus and on every floor of every building. Did I mention this is an online make that we can make accessible to everyone?

Campus Food Carbon Menu

Concept: Create a menu that tells you the amount of CO2 associated with food options on campus.
Rational: When people have more information about the things that they are consuming, they can make more informed choices. Knowing how much CO2 is associated with the production of that food might change consumption habits for more sustainable options.
Product: The group created a carbon menu of select items on campus. These menu items were compared to one another to show you which option used less CO2. Take home message, Chicken represents 3 times less CO2 than the equivalent amount of beef.

Campus Move-out Guide

Concept: Create a guide to show students how to recycle all their stuff when they move out of residences.
Rational: The volume of waste generated during the last two weeks before students move out is tremendous. With something to guide them, students would be able to donate items to those in need and recycle those things that can't be reused.
Product: The group created a guide that shows you exactly where to get rid of your stuff, everything from toothbrushes to socks. Nowthere's no excuse.

There are another twelve projects that blew me away. An orientation guide for new students and another one for grad students, a sustainable enterprise certification system for the campus, a green office program, a calculation of the CO2 associated with air travel.... seriously, I was blown away.

I hope to have all these projects available on-line soon. They represent so much more than some glue and tape on cardboard. They represent the future of our campus.

~ jON - campus sustainability manager
photo credit - jonathan rausseo

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