UWI going green

jameshusbandsatuwiThe Students Guild of the Cave Hill campus of the University of the West Indies is on a mission to reduce the energy consumption there.

The 2012-2013 guild have adopted a “going green” theme for the year and is implementing measures to help reduce the high electricity bills the campus faces monthly.

Last week the Faculty of Science and Technology held the annual week of activities, including an energy awareness day when Solar Dynamics, Innogen, Caribbean LED Lighting, Future Centre Trust and other energy-based companies mounted displays to demonstrate to the student body how they could efficiently utilise solar energy and why is it important to do so.

In an interview with Barbados TODAY,†energy officer for the guild, Shaka O’neal, explained that as well as trying to educate the students on simple ways they could play their part to be as energy efficient as possible, the guild decided to take a lead role to show the administration that its members were cognisant of the high cost of electricity and the institution’s financial situation.

To help in this effort they identified the guild building as the appropriate place to start reducing the electricity consumption. One of their first steps was an energy audit last September. From that, areas of wastage were identified and recommendations were made about steps that could be taken to reduce the energy bill each month.

One of the most “disturbing” revelations which came out of the audit, he said, was that the energy consumed on weekends between 10 a.m. and midnight was the same as a normal week day. O’neal said that as the student government they wanted to do as much as they could to reduce the level of energy use.

Unfortunately, he pointed out, they were unable to implement the major recommendations prescribed then, they did manage some smaller changes, including ensuring the air condition units and lights in rooms were turned off each time people exited them.

He noted too that a door through which air entered, causing the air conditioning units to work harder, were fixed and sealed. They also plan to move a drinks dispensing machine because in its current location it created a lot of heat, causing the AC to work hard to bring it back down. Their next move will be to acquire an automated lighting.

“This is a project that I feel very strongly about and we are trying our best but it has been very hectic since we are still students… Unfortunately we were not able to put in all the recommendations but we are doing the best we can bit by bit,” he said.

“The goal was to have photovoltaic cells on the roof of the Guild Council so that 100 per cent of the electricity would not be coming from Light & Power. Though it will not be to the magnitude that it will be self sustainable it will still help reduce even if it is 10 to 15 per cent.

“We don’t see our energy bill because it goes to the university, so if not for the energy audit we would have no idea of the usage at the weekend, which is of concern because on a weekends the offices are not in use and there is not that much traffic coming in and out.

“This is something I am hoping the future Guilds will continue, because it is a good initiative so I don’t think that the energy efficiency drive will die if I leave office, but I think that the main thing is to [get] the university’s administration to say ‘Well if the students are thinking this way we should step up’.

“If we could install a photovoltaic system on our building, why can’t the university have photovoltaic cells on each building, because when you think about renewable energy, in the short term yes, the system will be expensive to install, but look at how much money you will save in five to 10 years,” said O’neal. (KC)††

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