BC post-secondary institutions band together to reduce energy use this heating season

April 16, 2019

Earlier this year, Simon Fraser University joined five other B.C. post-secondary institutions competing in the BC Cool Campus Challenge. The task: to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions throughout January and February and encourage their communities to do the same. SFU competed alongside the University of British Columbia, University of British Columbia - Okanagan, British Columbia Institute for Technology, Thompson Rivers University, and Selkirk College.

In addition to institution-wide setbacks on temperature settings, the institutions challenged their students, faculty and staff to take a pledge to reduce their carbon use through four actions:

  • Turning down home thermostats to below 20°C;
  • Layering up in warmer clothing;
  • Taking shorter showers; and
  • Washing laundry in cold water.

These four actions were recommended as heating and hot water are more GHG intensive and would have the largest impact.

SFU saved an estimated 260 GJ of energy, worth $3,740, by lowering its thermostats, and reduced its carbon emissions by 12.966 tons over the previous year. As well, 441 community members made a commitment to reduce their carbon use.

"The BC Cool Campus campaign provided a great opportunity for SFU to both take a leadership role in working with post-secondary institutions across the province, and to engage in energy-saving and greenhouse gas reduction conversations here to SFU," says Erica Lay, director at the SFU sustainability Office. "Through creative and friendly competition, the SFU community was able to both address both individual and institutional energy use and explore tangible ways to minimize our impacts, and engage with peers across the province."

The BC Cool Campus winner, Selkirk College, was selected based on a percentage determined by the number of pledges compared to its respective full-time equivalent students, staff and faculty for the semester. The prize was a selection of branded clothing items from each participating institution that Selkirk can donate to a local charity or clothing drive of its choice.