By: Emily Hutton

Wal-Mart Canada is emphasizing going green. By giving post-secondary students a chance to present environmentally friendly initiatives to companies, it’s a great opportunity for college and university students.

Wal-Mart Canada is giving post-secondary students a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to show a board of the country’s top executives their ideas on how companies can change the way they run their operations.

The Green Student Challenge is for university or college students looking to present a green business plan to several company CEOs in Toronto next February. The idea of the challenge is to find new and innovative ways to help businesses reduce their carbon footprint while still being sustainable and beneficial.

The teams that enter the challenge will be evaluated by a panel of several CEOs including Dianne Craig from Ford, Chris O’Neill from Google Canada, Ana Dominguez from SC Johnson, Shelley Broader from Wal-Mart Canada and Claude Mongeau of CN Rail.

Students who decide to enter are required to be a legal resident of Canada, 18 years or older, attending a post-secondary institution part-time or full-time and have a one-page summary of their proposal by Dec. 14.

The panel of executives will be looking for three important traits in each presentation: a new way of doing business, benefits and significant sustainability and the business proposal to back it all up.

The reward for the winning team last year was $30,000 dollars as well as an additional $30,000 to their school.
This year, Nicholas Thomson, business management and entrepreneurship student has entered the challenge, being one of two applicants from Algonquin College.

“My idea is to incorporate geo-thermal heating to heat a space,” said Thomson.

“Road salt is the largest industrial contaminant. If you can use geo-thermal heating inside why can’t you outside?”

Thomson says that if you keep the ground to just above freezing it should stop ice from forming. This would keep streets, sidewalks and driveways clear of the ice during the winter months and eliminate the use of road salt. Thomson’s idea starts with placing polybutylene pipes underneath store parking lots.

“If I win first place I get $25,000,” said Thomson. “If I just make top five I get $7,000, and getting top five is good enough for me.”

Last year’s winners were students from University of Waterloo whose business pitch was a way for companies to conserve energy in warehouses that stored refrigerated products; an idea with economic benefits of $1.35 million per year over 20 years.

Jake Yeung, a graduate of University of Waterloo’s chemical engineering program and a member of the winning team, said the best part of the challenge is getting to present your business plan in front of some of the country’s top CEOs.
“We didn’t do anything extravagant,” said Yeung. “My favourite thing was being able to do the presentation in front of companies such as Coca-Cola Canada and Wal-Mart Canada”.
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