TRU focuses on conserving energy across campus

Karla Karcioglu, Roving Editor Ω

On Jan. 10, TRU’s department of environment and sustainability began monitoring TRU’s energy usage in the library, the Independent Centre, culinary arts and the Residence and Conference Centre. The information will be used for a baseline for TRU’s participation in the Campus Conservation Nationals (CCN).

The CCN is a North American initiative to provide incentives for colleges and universities to reduce electricity and water usage. Numerous schools in the United States are already participating, but TRU is one of just four Canadian universities, all in Western Canada.

The department will record an initial baseline of energy usage from Jan. 10 to 31 and then work to reduce its energy use from April 4 to 25.

“We’re going to try and get people to do all the small things like turning off lights and turning off computers when not in use,” said environmental programs coordinator James Gordon.

TRU has also teamed up with four schools, UNBC, Okanagan College, Portland State University and the University of Washington to see who can reduce their energy usage the most between them. The winner of the Cascadia Campus Conservation Cup will get bragging rights and a trophy made of recycled materials which Gordon has volunteered to construct.

For the next several months TRU will be engaging in a variety of energy saving programs geared towards reducing the university’s environmental impact.

TRU’s department of environment and sustainability has also signed on for BC Hydro’s Continuous Optimization Program, which according to BC Hydro’s website “offers incentives, tools and support” to help participants make buildings more energy efficient.

During the program, BC Hydro Power Smart and FortisBC will fund a re-commissioning consultant to “study the building and recommend energy efficiency improvements, provide training of the buildings operators and conduct follow up coaching” and they will also fund the installation of an Energy Management Information System (EMIS).

The department of environment and sustainability has also approached the TRU Residence and Conference Centre about a potential energy saving pilot project which uses occupancy-sensors to control room temperature.

The potential energy savings according to director of environment and sustainability Jim Gudjonson would be approximately $20,000 to $25,000 per year. The department is currently waiting for the TRU Residence and Conference Centre to decided if they want to accept the project.

A project to install solar panels on the Independent Centre was recently approved and the environment and sustainability department is currently helping TRUSU calculate how many panels will be required.

Even though TRU’s size has increased with the building of the House of Learning in 2011 and expansions to the Campus Activity Centre and Old Main in 2012, its energy use has been decreasing. This is thanks to TRU’s Energy Management Program.

Currently, TRU uses around 15,000,000 kilowatt hours of electricity per year at a cost of around $900,000, according to Gordon.