Sustainability Office staff posing behind the weekly BC Cool Campus booth. From left to right: Connie norton, Marina Van Driel, Vivek Singh.

Creative sustainability campaigns lead to 9.4 tonnes of C02e avoided

June 18, 2021

Though energy efficiency is usually achieved through technological upgrades, an underestimated approach is behaviour change. This refers to steps people can take to form new habits that lead to energy conservation. Last semester, the Sustainability Office ran two behaviour-focused campaigns that resulted in an impressive amount of savings!

The Safe & Sustainable Labs Campaign

Labs are the highest consumers of energy on campus, due to energy-intensive equipment such as fume hoods. We tackled this problem by piloting the Safe & Sustainable Labs campaign, lead by Marina Van Driel from the Sustainability Office, and championed by the Chemistry Lab Manager, Hamel Tailor, and supported by Facilities Services. By tracking consumption on a dashboard, the Inorganic Chemistry research lab (C8064) for the Storr, Leznoff and Warren groups and the Organic Chemistry research lab (C8065) for the Britton, Ramogida and Young research groups competed to see who can save the most energy!

We asked lab occupants to observe their habits, and see if any of them could be made safer or more efficient. More specifically, we focused on lowering the fume hood sash (door) to the appropriate level, turning off the lights, powering down equipment and computers, and monitoring air temperature. The hope was that by adjusting these behaviours, we would see this translate into energy savings as well as improve lab safety.

Here are the results:

  • 400 kg of CO2e avoided
  • 3 Households of electricity avoided
  • Total Electricity Avoided 36,700 kWh
  • $2,600 in avoided electricity costs
An example of the fume hood stickers in place.

The BC Cool Campus Challenge

This campaign also centred around behaviour change but was paired with a technical component. SFU lowered the temperature settings to 20˚C (1-2 degrees lower than normal) at the Burnaby and Vancouver campuses.

In addition to institution-wide setbacks on temperature, we challenged all students, faculty and staff to pledge to reduce their carbon use through four impactful actions that have the highest potential for GHG reductions:

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

During this campaign, SFU saved 180 GJ of energy, 9 tonnes of CO2e, $1,440 in avoided costs, and received 128 participants pledges. Though it is unfortunate we had such a cold January as this impacted our savings, we still made meaningful connections with participants, and managed to save the equivalent of taking 2 cars off the road for a year.

Vivek Singh behind the BC Cool Campus Challenge booth in the Academic Quadrangle.