Wednesday, 30 July 2014, 4:58 am

Little changes make a big difference

Shown are the solar panels on the roof of the Welland campus of Niagara College. PHOTO BY GINA PANNUNZIOBy CATHY McCABE
Staff Writer
March is energy month here, as the Sustainability Committee wants to educate students about on-campus projects and energy conservation’s importance.
Gina Pannunzio, the sustainability engagement assistant, says the college has a 10 per cent electricity and energy reduction target by 2016.
The renewable energy projects include having a wind turbine, solar panels and geothermal heat pumps.
Pannunzio says the committee has been doing “lighting adjustments” around campus. She says they have turned off the majority of lights in the Learning Commons in Welland. Although some of the lights are still needed on when it is overcast, “The large windows at the top [of the commons] supplement a lot of the daytime light,” she says.
“We’ve also done some retrofits in Welland; changing some outdated bulbs and installing more energy efficient bulbs.”
She says the committee has installed window film at the Benchmark restaurant, the Armoury and the Student Administration boardroom.
“The window film is an application of film, similar to window tinting in cars. It will help reflect some of the sun’s rays coming in and keep the room cooler in the summertime without using too much air conditioning.”
Pannunzio says as students transition out of Niagara College, they may start to receive                            electricity bills.
“If you are not used aware of how much electricity costs, you will be sorely surprised.” She says this year the provincial government announced there will be a 42 per cent increase in electricity cost in the next three years.
The sustainability committee will also be celebrating Earth Hour. For one day in March each year, people are asked to turn off their lights for one hour to show support in the fight against global warming.
The World Wildlife Fund website says, “Earth Hour is a highly visible and symbolic act.
One activity that brings people of all ages and backgrounds around the world together to sound a clear call-to-action for our most pressing global challenge: climate change.” This year Earth Hour is on March 29 from 8:30 a.m. to 9:30 a.m.
Pannunzio say they will be having a booth on March 27 to explain what Earth Hour is, how it was created, who participates plus ideas of things to do during the hour.
“We are going to encourage people to participate, turn off their lights and do a fun activity in the dark with friends.”
According to the Earth Hour website, more than 7,001 cities in 153 countries participated in 2013. The first Earth Hour was celebrated on March 31, 2007.
The sustainability committee will also be involved in the college’s Spring Open House on March 29 from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. The committee will have a booth at the Welland and Niagara-on-the-Lake campuses.
Pannunzio says the booths will showcase the sustainability projects on campus. Categories including biodiversity, water and energy will be listed and visitors will be asked to pick the one that is most important to them.
The results of this survey will be the “beginning stages of the way we’re strategically planning sustainability moving forward on campus.”
Student volunteers at hydration stations will be giving out refillable water bottles. “We’re going to be using water from our hydration stations and encourage everyone to use a reusable bottle.”
For more information about the energy projects on campus visit http://sustainability.niagaracollege.ca/content/Projects/CampusProjects/Energy.aspx.
For information on the Open House go to ttp://www.niagaracollege.ca/content/SpringOpenHouse/SpringOpenHouseHome.aspx.

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