Putting their ideas in place would flip the switch on a more environmentally friendly campus.
A pair of independent pitches to transition Western’s campus from traditional light switches to motion sensors earned top honours at Western’s Ideas for Sustainability and the Environment (WISE) award competition.
Graduate students William Zylberman and Djordje Romanic were honoured at the March 31 event for their ideas aimed at reducing society’s environmental footprint. Established in 2014, the WISE competition generates ideas and initiatives among Western students on the topic of sustainability.
“Our ongoing commitment to sustainability is strengthened by a shared vision that spans our campus and engages the entire community, including the business community,” said Western President Amit Chakma, noting the Green Awards and WISE Competition is evidence “that sustainability is alive and well on our campus and Western is an emerging leader in this critically important realm of human endeavour.”
“WISE applicants transfer their passion for sustainability into practical and meaningful initiatives that benefit the environment,” he continued.
Zylberman’s Green Lantern Project proposed installing light motion detectors across campus to turn lights off when a room was unoccupied. Using Western Science Centre as a pilot, Zylberman examined how the installation of occupancy/vacancy sensors and automatic dimming systems in office rooms, community spaces, classrooms and lecture halls, would significantly reduce energy consumption on campus.
Similarly, Romanic’s submission on the Benefits of Installing Occupancy Sensor Lights in Campus Buildings called for a campuswide rollout of occupancy sensor lights to reduce carbon dioxide emissions, which directly influence climate change. He noted this application would reduce both energy costs and expenses for maintenance of campus buildings.
“All of these problems could be solved with this simple technology,” Romanic said.
In the undergraduate category, Jody Yu won for an Ideal Sustainable Community, which proposes adopting sustainable aquaponic and vertical farming maintained by university students and retirees. Eating fresh, locally produced foods will help create a sustainable community, Yu said, noting it will reduce the resources used in traditional food production and transportation.
“In this community, people grow what they eat,” she said. “The ultimate goal is to grow food locally. To protect our environment and our world, everyone has a role.”
Ideas such as those proposed by the WISE winners have a direct application to Western’s commitment to sustainable facilities, noted Gitta Kulczycki, Vice-President (Resources & Operations). Opportunities like the WISE competition give students “a head start on their future, while leaving a legacy behind,” she added.
“The WISE competition, recognizing innovative thinking, is further indication of the potential of our students,” said Kulczycki. “With generous support from Alumni Relations and TD Canada Trust, Western is cultivating our next generation of sustainable leaders.”