Rez Powers Down earns more accolades

Special to Western News

Angela Treglia, Andrew Quenneville and Jerry Shum, all of the Office of Residence Education and Programs, were awarded the 2015 Quality and Productivity Award, presented by the Canadian Association of University Business Officers, for Western’s Rez Powers Down program.

Honours continue to roll in for a bright idea that is fueling sustainability in Western residences.

Last week, Western was awarded a 2015 Quality and Productivity Award, presented by the Canadian Association of University Business Officers, for the university’s Rez Powers Down program. The award comes with a $1,500 prize, which will be used to help fund sustainability programs in residence this year.

This is the second win for the program this month. Earlier in June, Rez Powers Down won Program of the Year at the Ontario Association of College and University Housing Officers annual conference, hosted at York University in Toronto.

The Rez Powers Down program was developed to bring conservation awareness to students living in residence, as well as when they leave campus and become renters, paying their own utility bills. It is a student-run sustainability initiative that has been promoted over the last several years in Western’s residences.

The concept is simple – energy consumption is tracked for the two weeks leading up to the official launch of the program, to set baseline levels of comparison. During the Rez Powers Down program, buildings compete to see who can conserve the most energy over a two-week period. The residence that conserves the most energy receives 25 per cent of the total monetary savings from the campus residences’ utility bill. An additional 25 per cent of the total monetary savings are donated to a global sustainability initiative, of the residents’ council’s choice.

“Rez Powers Down has been a very engaging program within the residences,” said Peggy Wakabayashi, Director of Residences. “An encouraging observation that we’ve noted with this initiative is not only a decrease in energy use during the program, but also the energy consumption during the weeks following.”

While some might assume that energy consumption would return back to baseline levels after the challenge, she continued, this isn’t the case. Two weeks afterwards, energy consumption was still on average 7 per cent below the baseline compared to 9 per cent during the program.

This year, the challenge will run from Sept. 28-Oct. 10, and will pit suite-style residence against suite-style residence, and traditional-style residence against traditional-style residence. Over the week, students will be encouraged to:

  • Turn off as many lights as possible;
  • Take the stairs instead of the elevator;
  • Turn the thermostat down and dress in layers;
  • Take cooler, shorter showers;
  • Wash laundry in cold water; and
  • Unplug electronics and appliances that are not in use.

Organizers will use Facilities Management’s real-time energy dashboard to monitor progress over the week and to determine the amount of energy that each residence saves.

In addition to Rez Powers Down, Western was also awarded a 2015 Quality and Productivity Award for the institution’s Centre of Knowledge for the Best Value Business Model (BVBM).

With support from the Ontario Ministry of Training, College and Universities’ Productivity and Innovation Fund, Western created the centre as a procurement and project management approach that supports the selection of expert vendors. These experts identify risks to the project both within and outside of their controls; propose mitigation plans for those risks; and identify value adds they can bring to the project.

BVBN was developed by Arizona State University researchers; Western spearheaded the model’s rollout to university procurement teams across Ontario, and has coordinated meetings and conferences to network with other BVBM users across Canada.

Western has seen “tremendous results” using BVBM. Between January 2014 and October 2014, the university completed five procurement projects with a total value of $30 million. Thanks to BVBM, the university anticipates a savings of $2.4 million (or 8 per cent); surveys of project participants also showed “greater satisfaction than with traditional procurement practices.”