Facilitating Carbon Footprint Awareness in the Ralph M. Medjuck Building
van Hemmen, Hannah
MetadataShow full item record
Research in any area that is working to reduce carbon dioxide is presently relevant, timely and urgently needed because climate change is occurring at an accelerated rate due to the carbon dioxide and greenhouse gas emissions associated with human activities (Speth, 2008). In a university setting, the largest contributor to carbon dioxide and greenhouse gas emissions are associated with heating and cooling buildings on campus and its water supplies (Dahle & Neumayer, 2001). Universities have also been shown to be the most effective medium of education to work towards a sustainable future. Dalhousie University has made many efforts and much progress towards greening the campus through building retrofits, energy efficiency, water conservation and more (Dalhousie Office of Sustainability, 2010). However, it remains underdeveloped in the principles of engaging individual students, faculty and staff. It must encourage energy efficiency to promote interest and awareness of the impacts of individual actions on energy efficiency (Dahle & Neumayer, 2001). This research will examine how knowledgeable the students, faculty and staff who use the Dalhousie University Ralph M. Medjuck building are of the building’s carbon footprint and Dalhousie University’s carbon footprint. The research will examine how students, faculty and staff perceive the impact of individual behaviour upon the carbon footprint of the building. It will also seek effective approaches for engaging students, faculty and staff on energy efficiency issues in the university, the carbon footprint of the institution and the importance of behavioural change within these three subcultures. The Dalhousie University Eco-Efficiency Centre has commissioned this research in an effort to begin to improve the energy efficiency of its host institution in an individual building-scaled behavioural change approach. This research will be used to create an engaging presentation and handout for the students, faculty and staff of the Ralph M. Medjuck building. Presentations and handouts would encourage behavioural changes that these individuals can take to reduce the building’s carbon footprint. This presentation and handout will be used by the Eco-Efficiency Centre as a template for future presentations in other buildings on campus. A literature review, student surveys, faculty interviews and custodial staff interviews will be the primary method of gathering data for this research. A literature review was conducted to analyze past university campus’ greening initiatives in an effort to determine successful approaches to changing individual behaviours in regards to energy consumption. Brown 2 University, Dalhousie University, Ball State University, and the University of South Carolina are used as case studies. The major themes presented by this literature review were that; students need to be educated in environmental issues to be able to be engaged in campus greening, faculty are best engaged through the incorporation of their research into the campus greening movement, and developing staff members to be carbon capable can be an effective way to engage them in the greening the campus movement. Student surveys suggested that student’s lacked an understanding of how their individual behaviours could reduce the Ralph M. Medjuck building’s carbon footprint. Faculty interviews identified the issue that the faculty perceive individual behaviours to be insignificant towards reducing energy consumption in the building in comparison to the infrastructural heat and energy waste of the building. Staff interviews identified many operational gaps that lead to energy inefficiencies. The results of this research are a presentation and handout template that can be shown in a presentation to students, faculty and staff of academic buildings as a traditional method of approaching them to change their individual behaviours. Another result of this research is a series of recommendations for appropriate approaches to be taken to engage students, faculty and staff in the greening the campus movement and in energy efficiency. The research will also address specific ways forward for the Eco-Efficiency Centre in its mission to begin promoting eco-efficiency and energy-efficiency within the Dalhousie University’s buildings. Recommendations include, but are not limited to; increase the centre’s physical and visual connection with the campus; develop partnerships with the Office of Sustainability and other sustainability organizations on campus; provide incentives to changing behaviours; and use innovative and creative presentation techniques.