By Johnna Wiens (HSBC Prosperity Hall)

We often hear of the efforts of major organisations to be environmentally friendly, and like me, you probably think to yourself something along the lines of, “oh that’s good.  I’m glad they’re doing that.  They should be.”  But the problem for most of us is that that’s where that cognition ends.  We forget to take that thought one step further and ask ourselves what we can be doing or what our organisation can be doing to reduce our harmful effects on the environment.  But not the managers of the student residence.  They have seen the need for large establishments that consume a lot of energy and produce a lot of waste, such as the student residence, to take responsibility for their environmentally damaging actions and have thus formulated a plan to increase the sustainability of the student residence in line with the University’s Campus Planning and Development strategy.

There are four major sustainability efforts in effect at the student residence as of now.  They are:

  • The installation of new, top-of-the-line energy efficient water heater pumps in Halls 1 – 6 and 8;
  • The reduction of the number of fluorescent lighting tubes used in the ground floor common rooms of all halls, based on the Chartered Institution of Building Services Engineers (CIBSE) lux-level management guidelines;
  • The procurement of lampposts (outside of Hall 8 being the planned location for the first) that operate on wind and solar energy rather than traditional power plant electricity; and
  • The planting of additional plants on the roof of new buildings (such as the SRO Annex) and the placement of additional potted plants on the roofs of some residence halls.

Additional efforts in effect campus-wide include the option to reduce the amount of rice taken at canteens including Homey Kitchen, thereby reducing food waste, and the option to bring reusable cups and dishes to canteens to lessen the need for disposable tableware.

Although it may not be a perfect or comprehensive effort, I think that we need to be proud of the SRO for recognising their responsibility in this crucial matter. I encourage you to participate in and support these efforts, as well as to find other ways to help the student residence as a whole function more sustainably.  They may seem like common sense ideas but I think it’s worth reminding everyone to turn off the lights when you have left a room, particularly the bathroom and the common room.  I have observed that these are two places in which the lights typically run 24-7 when there is no reason why they ought to. A less obvious idea is to remember to unplug electrical items when they are not in use.  Although they don’t consume as much as when they’re in operation, an appliance or electrical cord (such as a cell phone charger) still consume a significant amount of electricity even when it is simply plugged in and turned off.  Be creative.  Think outside of the box.  I’m sure that you can find many useful ways in which you can help the student residence make a meaningful impact in the quest for sustainability. 

ResLink Issue No.32
Feb 2011