This year’s winners of the Western Green Awards are making strong environmental impacts on campus residences, research facilities and around the world.
Established in 2008, the Western Green Awards celebrate individuals and/or teams who initiate or support activities with positive environmental outcomes, encourage participation and involvement, work together with others or demonstrate an environmentally friendly effort. The purpose of the awards is to help raise awareness of sustainability at Western.
Announced Friday, the 2019 Western Green Awards include the Perth Hall Residents’ Council, Robarts Research Institute facilities manager Ron Vander and Political Science professor Radoslav Dimitrov.
At the event, the winners of the annual Western Green Awardswere also announced. Established in 2014, WISE invites undergraduate and graduate students to foster innovative and high-impact ideas to reduce, or eliminate, today’s most pressing environmental concerns. First-place winners in each category receive $1,500 towards their project.
This year’s WISE winners included Tyreek Gaynor-Fray, Health Sciences in the Undergraduate category and Joyla Furlano, School of Kinesiology, and Sabina Rakhimbekova, Civil and Environmental Engineering in the graduate category).
Perth Hall Residents’ Council
Kimia Raahemifar and Robert Merentsov (team leaders), Swapnil Sharma, Tiffany Lu, Michael Wu, Michael Haswell, Andy Chiang, Ardavan Bonyadibehrouz, Jania Hemnani and Ryan Davey
The Perth Hall Residents’ Council had led a number of environmental initiatives over the past year.
Bring a Mug Week is an event in collaboration with the residence cafeteria where students are encouraged to use their own mug in the cafe instead of the plastic disposable cups.
Rez Powers Down is an ongoing initiative across campus where students in a week-long event to power down all the lights. The initiative resulted in reducing power consumption at Perth Hall by almost 2 per cent, in the building of 450 students.
The resident’s ongoing recycling campaign involves reminding students to use the two-stream recycling system while in residence, as well as in the community.
The initiatives put in place by Perth Hall Residents’ Council are about changing the way students think about energy use in their lives, and the positive changes this past year are signs the residence is becoming more environmentally friendly every day.
Facilities Manager (Building Services)
Robarts Research Institute
Over the past year, Ron Vander has made incredible efforts to make Robarts Research Institute more sustainable by leading numerous seminars in the building to raise awareness of energy usage and pointing out specific examples each person, and lab, can do to make an impact. For example, he convinced lab supervisors to reduce energy usage by changing freezers from minus 80 degrees to minus 70 degrees, and adding motion-sensor lighting in the buildings bathrooms.
Vander also pushed for more energy-efficient equipment in the building, reduced energy use during off-peak times and brought in London Hydro representatives to each lab to speak about energy conservation. Fun activities included contest among the seven floors in the building to determine the top energy-saving floor.
Vander’s environmental leadership is making a significant impact in one the heaviest users of energy on campus.
Political Science professor
As a diplomat at United Nations Climate Change conferences, Radoslav Dimitrov impacts his students by teaching them to be better global citizens by taking action.
Helping negotiate the monumentally important Paris Agreement on Climate Change and having helped redesign the European Union’s climate negotiation strategy this past year, Dimitrov is one just a handful of academics in the world who act as government diplomats in these important negotiations, which places him in a unique position to comment on global climate change politics.
His knowledge on the issue is unparalleled, and he inspires students through his stories and lessons to learn more about our changing planet, the consequences of climate change and barriers which stand in the way of effective global climate action.
Dimitrov’s consistent and authoritative campus activism over the years has raised awareness on climate change and the importance of international climate policy. His first-hand experience at UN conferences have been a tremendous opportunity for the Western community to learn about climate politics and the decisions that governments make that shape our lives.
It is estimated that 1 per cent of the water on this planet is consumable for humans on the planet. Yet, even so, North American culture is wasteful of this limited commodity.
SmartSustain is an environmentally friendly ecosystem which encourages society to efficiently use resources through personal responsibility. It will reward those individuals who are prudent towards sustainability through a redeemable token economy by installing water-usage timers in the residence showers around campus.
To inform residents of their usage burden, there will be color levels (green, orange and red, or good, satisfactory and bad) indicating the extent of water being used which students can check on their mobile app. If the user meets the desired range calibrated for efficient water usage, the timer will send this information to the system, and the user will be rewarded with tokens which convert into benefits on campus.
Joyla Furlano and Sabina Rakhimbekova
Every year, thousands of students move into and out of temporary student housing on, or close, to campus, often leaving unwanted but usable furniture, household items, and school supplies by the street curb,
While Western Sustainability offers the opportunity for students to drop off unwanted, non-perishable items on or off campus on April 28-30 of each year, Student Re-use will expand on this by running a full seven days in both the first week of September and the last week of April.
The program would involve finding an accessible, small space on campus that could be rented out for the week-long period. Western students would be invited to drop-off and collect unwanted, re-usable items to the rented space on campus throughout the week, and all leftover items would be donated to local London charities to help residents and families in need.