As students head back to classes at The University of Winnipeg this week, they will now be using greener infrastructure on campus. Over the next two months, the University is installing a hybrid heating system – two auxillary electric boilers beside existing natural gas-fired boilers, along with a control system that switches between natural gas and electricity. This means electricity can be used to replace natural gas for heating purposes at strategic times throughout the day. Since, in Manitoba, all electricity comes from hydro-electric sources with a very low Green House Gas emission (GHG), this hybrid system could significantly reduce the University’s GHG output. 

The University estimates that the new heating system could cut GHG emissions from its core buildings by as much as 35%. This reduction will help offset the impact of campus growth and contribute significantly to the University’s goal to reduce its emissions to 6% below 1990 levels by 2012. 

Don’t blush: our flush is also changing. UWinnipeg launched a major water retrofit project in the spring so all bathrooms on campus are being outfitted with low-flow toilets and sinks. Savings analysis of washrooms already retrofitted suggest that the University could save as much as 4,536,634 litres of potable water per year. 

Lloyd Axworthy (President and Vice-Chancellor, UWinnipeg

“These latest sustainability initiatives on campus are extremely significant because in 2005 we pledged to become a Kyoto compliant university,” said Dr. Lloyd Axworthy, President and Vice-Chancellor, UWinnipeg. “We know that our students are environmentally aware and want us to reduce our carbon footprint in tangible ways. Given our commitment to absolute reductions in greenhouse gas emissions, we are aware that each building we add to our campus requires us to be even more aggressive with our carbon reduction strategies. We remain committed and on track to meeting our 2012 target and are also beginning to look ahead to further targets beyond 2012.” 

UWinnipeg’s recycling program is also expanding this September and can now accommodate everything that is recycled at home except glass, and it can all go in the same bin (except cardboard). This means milk cartons, juice boxes and all recyclable plastics are now acceptable. In 2009, the University recycled 108 tonnes of plastic, paper, cardboard and aluminum, which represents approximately 85% of the total weight of these materials produced on campus annually.

A new working group called Sustainable Campus Life is being established to coordinate workplace greening initiatives, such as paper reduction, designing a ‘green office’ certification program for the University, and getting offices and departments to sign up for the certification. Specific projects will be decided by committee members. The goal is to begin to target behaviour change initiatives. 

Over the past several years, UWinnipeg has been an eco-leader: 

  • First university in Canada to ban water for sale, eliminating thousands of plastic water bottles which had been sold on campus annually
  • Introduced a sustainable, locally sourced food service on campus called Diversity Foods
  • Phosphate-free detergents and environmentally friendly cleaning products used on campus
  • Double-sided printing as default on all copiers and printers on campus 
  • UWinnipeg, in partnership with the Manitoba government, is poised to test how well low-speed electric vehicles work in winter. The vehicles will shuttle from building to building on campus 

Find out more about UWinnipeg’s sustainability office at: http://www.uwinnipeg.ca/index/sus-index

MEDIA CONTACT

Diane Poulin, Communications Officer, The University of Winnipeg
P: 204.988.7135, E: [email protected]