The month of March has witnessed many changes on campus in regard to environmental sustainability. March 1 was the official launch of StFX’s sustainability campaign, which urges the university community to save electricity, water, and manage waste properly, among other environmentally friendly activities.
The StFX administration, Facilities Management, as well as the Earth Sciences department all played crucial roles in campaign's debut. Andrew Beckett, StFX vice-president finance and administration, told The Xaverian Weekly that some of the cornerstones of the sustainability campaign are switching to more environmentally friendly fuels such as natural gas and rethinking the campus’s heating system.
Sustainability Week has also witnessed the Students' Union's approval to dedicate funds to a student-led environmental initiative spearheaded by the Environmental Society and a group of engineering students.
Mikaela Henderson, president of the environmental society, said that the society and its partners in the project are looking to add more solar panels on the roof of the Bloomfield Centre and to potentially put a solar field on other buildings such as the Physical Sciences Centre (PSC).
Henderson stated that the solar panel project has been confirmed by the university, but that it is dependent upon StFX receiving a grant in the fall.
The Students’ Union has also donated $2,000 to fund this project via the Council Initiatives Fund. The students involved delivered a presentation to the Students' Union Representative Council to receive sponsorship from the fund.
A group of students from Dr. Emeka Oguejiofor’s Design and Communications II engineering class (ENGR 232) worked extensively on making this idea a reality. Students Adam Tolton, Camden MacDonald, Danielle Makar, Jeremy Graham, Olivia Gregan, and Keegan MacDonald were responsible for the project. Henderson acted as the facilitator for this project and also dealt with the financial aspects.
The students further coordinated with Facilities Management, particularly Kevin Latimer, supervisor of energy and utilities, where they went over possibilities for different solar systems in various locations.
One of the students who participated, Camden MacDonald, said that the project is still in progress and won’t be finished this academic year.
Before the presentation to Council, a survey was sent out to students which included questions such as, “do you consider sustainability important?” and “do you think it is important for StFX to move in a sustainable direction?”
MacDonald stated that over 500 students replied to the survey and that they received generally positive results. She also noted that the presentation to Students’ Union Council “went well.”
Besides the solar project, the Environmental Society has taken up other initiatives such as promoting environmental awareness and running Sustainability Week events, including coffee houses and trivia competitions.
Henderson shared that the Environmental Society has no major projects coming up, but that this may change if the incoming society president decides to initiate one. Henderson also stated that the StFX Communications Office was extremely helpful with Sustainability Week and the campaign as a whole, particular in regard to financial assistance.
Through the events on campus and the work done thus far, Henderson is proud that her society and those that help it have “fostered a more grassroots approach." “The society is doing a lot of great work this year,” she concluded.