Carly Thomas takes a look at Ryerson’s energy consumption and Toronto’s declining participation in Earth hour
Ryerson’s energy consumption is increasing due to its growth in staff, students and overall operations.
It seemed fitting to shed light on the school’s electricity bill since Earth Hour is taking place this Saturday at 8:30 p.m. The annual event began in 2008 and aims at inspiring people around the world to reduce their electrical waste.
“Ryerson is very efficient given its dense, urban location,” said Russell Richman from the Department of Architectural Science.
The school is built more efficiently because there is less room to build on, as opposed to other universities that do not exist in a metropolitan setting.
“In terms of sustainability initiatives and projects, Ryerson is near the front of the pack,” he said.
Initiatives include turning off air conditioning during evening hours, roof insulation repairs and over the past three years, upgrading the air conditioning and heating controls in various buildings.
This year, Campus Facilities and Sustainability will look to replace some of the university’s outdoor lighting to increase efficiency.
Students can do their own part to help reduce Ryerson’s energy consumption by unplugging electronics when not in use and turning off classroom or studio lights when empty.
An energy audit performed on 16 Ryerson buildings in 2010 showed that of the areas studied, 26 per cent of electricity costs were attributed to lighting. Pitman Residence had the lowest lighting bill at $18, 000 per year.
But the Roger’s Communication Centre (RCC), although outputting a higher yearly bill, is the lowest spending f o r its size. The Library building has the highest lighting costs, spending about $250, 000 per year, which works out to about 18 dollars per square meter.
Revising lighting schedules (such as minimizing number of lights on during evening hours) in Ryerson buildings, could decrease the university’s lighting energy consumption by up to 21 per cent, according to the study.
“We hold our own but there’s a lot of room for growth for our sustainability program. We’ll keep working to make the campus as sustainable as possible, “ said Tonga Pham, Ryerson’s Director of Facilities and Sustainability.
Ryerson will be participating in Earth Hour by shutting off all non-essential lights between the designated hours. In 2009, Toronto Hydro reported that the city experienced a 15 per cent power drop, but in 2010 it went down to 10 per cent during Earth Hour.
With the fourth annual event taking place at a time when no students are on campus; Ryerson students are feeling left in the dark about Earth hour’s timing this year.
“I knew it existed but I didn’t know it was this Saturday,” said Kristina McMullin, a second-year fashion communications student.
She blames poor advertising of the event.
Riley Kucheran, first-year arts and contemporary studies student, also didn’t know about the upcoming Earth Hour because he hadn’t seen anything on Twitter or Facebook.
When asked if he would be participating, Kucheran said “probably not. I don’t think these kinds of events make that much difference.”
McMullin disagrees, “I don’t think the actual act of turning off the lights is important but it’s the movement of what Earth Hour stands for that can make a difference.”
The Ryerson Students’ Union is involved in an environmental initiative to reduce the presence of plastic water bottles on campus but is not holding any events for Earth Hour this year.