Reducing the energy use in Dalhousie residences through infrastructural and behavioral changes
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Dalhousie University is one of the leading institutions of higher learning in Canada. Over the years, it has taken a leadership role through signing both the Talloires and Halifax Declarations, committing itself to teach and practice principles of sustainable development. To truly be a leader, Dalhousie University must match its actions to its words. With respect to traditional residences, in which a potential 1,937 Dalhousie students could be housed, Dalhousie is not fulfilling its commitments. Residences are excessively energy consumptive. This research project aimed to identify ways in which five traditional Dalhousie residences (Eliza Ritchie, Gerard, Howe, Risley and Sherriff Halls) could be made both more cost effective and energy efficient. The objective was to contribute to the Greening the Campus movement, as it seeks to increase environmental awareness in both the operational facilities and the human community of the campus. The research process included holding interviews with members of the Dalhousie faculty and conducting a survey among students living in the five residences. The information gained was then analyzed so that informed recommendations could be made to improve the buildings’ energy efficiency. A series of recommendations were made regarding the physical operations of the buildings. These included: the provision of drying racks to students, turning down the heat throughout the buildings, the installation of motion sensor lighting, and the installation of low flow shower heads. Additionally, a series of recommendations were made to alter the energy consumptive practices found in students’ behaviour within residences. These included: reducing the use of machine dryers, turning down the room thermostat where possible, setting computers to sleep mode after ten idle minutes, and reducing the average shower length by two minutes. To promote a change in students’ behaviour, the research team has also initiated an educational poster campaign in residences to raise awareness regarding the energy consumption involved in daily activities. If the recommendations made through this project were pursued, Dalhousie residences would become more substantial and energy efficient. However, we recommend that further research be conducted regarding both the physical structure of residence buildings and students’ behavioural patterns. Many more improvements could and should be made if Dalhousie residences are to be a successful example of sustainable living.