|Above: From left, Glendon students Guillaume Garcin, Jacklyn Volkhammer and Kelly Liu accept the first-place plaque on behalf of Wood Residence for winning the annual Res Race to Zero competition to reduce energy consumption|
In their first year of eligibility, students at Glendon’s Wood Residence have won the Res Race to Zero – York’s annual competition to promote energy savings in the University’s nine student residences.
The winning team, led by Kelly Lui, residence environmental ambassador for Wood, received congratulations and a plaque from Rob Tiffin, York vice-president students. “I was quite amazed at the differences between this year’s and last year’s residence figures,” said Tiffin. “This is a very positive competition and I think this just reinforces the whole sense of sustainability and how that really has developed a strong base here at York.” The winning team also received a cheque for $2,000 to put towards future sustainability efforts.
Right: From left, Ken McRoberts, principal of Glendon, and Rob Tiffin, York’s vice-president students, applaud the winners
Ken McRoberts, Glendon’s principal, also offered his congratulations to Lui and fellow team members Guillaume Garcin and Jaclyn Volkhammer at the presentation ceremony, held in Glendon Manor on Friday.
Liu said her team took a “passive programming” approach to encouraging their fellow residents to save electricity. “We made doorknob signs for everyone. We wrote on the white board on each person’s room door with a message and [we] made a lot of posters trying to build up the competition between Hilliard [Residence] and Wood.”
Pavel Graymason, coordinator of residence life and project lead on the Res Race to Zero, said the Wood team might even have had a disadvantage in the competition but overcame it with enthusiasm. “They were just keener,” he said. “If anything, they are some of the older buildings and they still did really, really well.”
Graymason was also impressed with the job that all the residence teams did in helping achieve another reduction in energy use over last year’s results. “We still had an across the board drop even though this is the third year – an aggregate drop; very significant from four years ago when the program started. Compared to then, our usage is much much lower. About 30 to 40 per cent lower on average,” he said.
Since the competition measures energy reduction from year to year, Glendon’s two residence teams had to wait a year to establish their benchmark once the proper metering tools were installed.
Liu said students in her residence, even if they were reluctant first-year neophytes, were able to get excited about the competition as a way to make a difference. The Res Race to Zero website allows them to track their energy usage per capita, allowing them to see what one person can do to make a difference.
One other point that Liu noted was her team’s focus on what she called “phantom usage” – the energy used by leaving charge cords plugged in, even when the cellphone or laptop they recharge isn’t attached.
Graymason said it is champions of energy-saving habits like Liu that make the program work. “It’s that positive peer-to-peer connection that really makes the difference,” he said. “Without them it wouldn’t make a difference. You could put up all the posters you want, but without a champion to say ‘this matters’, it wouldn’t work.”