By: Sophie Desrosiers
New toilets delivered to the campus on Sept. 17 are just the beginning for Algonquin’s pledge to sustainability, with plenty more plans following suit in the very near future.
These plans are part of a bigger picture. The project, named ESCO2, collaborates with Siemens to form Algonquin’s own sustainability committee.
The committee meets weekly, and is comprised of Algonquin staff Sarah Dehler, Sebastien Blais, Udo Friesen and Rick Guthrie, as well as John Godin and Bob Spenst from Siemens. During their weekly meetings, plans are made and confirmed, paperwork is sorted and new ideas on living greener at the college are tossed around.
ESCO2 is a plan that is still in the works, creating various phases and timelines for improving sustainability at the college, making it more eco-friendly and green.
Phase one of ESCO2 is in action, with the toilets, urinals, showerheads and faucets in the residence having all been changed over the summer to reduce water consumption.
But the first phase goes beyond the water fixtures in residence.
Currently the water fixtures throughout the campus’s older buildings are being changed. The toilets, for example, are all switching to low-flow toilets. The amount of water used per flush is being cut in half, going from the current six litre format to three litres per flush.
The toilets use more pressure and less water to flush waste.
Buildings M and K are part of ESCO2’s first phase. The two buildings will be undergoing a facelift in the heating, ventilating, and air conditioning (HVAC) department to make the facilities more energy efficient. B-building will be receiving a similar facelift, though this building will require more work as the structure itself is much older.
The sustainability committee hopes to have the first phase of ESCO2 completed by the start of the 2014-15 academic year, while other phases of the project remain in the planning stages.
While the changes to the water fixtures are already in the works, students should not expect too many disruptions, according to Dehler, sustainability coordinator.
“Issues of accessibility are important as well,” said Dehler. She explained that the committee has considered the impact on students and this was discussed in their weekly meeting on Sept. 17. The committee will be using detailed signs on out-of-service washrooms on campus, directing people to the closest functioning washroom.
These disruptions will be minor in comparison to the impact the changes will have for the college and the environment.
“As we’re reducing that waste, we’re reducing our demand on that city infrastructure, which means we’re playing a part in being a good corporate citizen,” said Dehler. “And then what we’re doing as well on the environmental side, is we’re reducing our ecological footprint, by reducing our natural gas use, by reducing our electricity use.”
A few pages in Algonquin’s agenda are dedicated to explaining the college’s efforts to make the campus sustainable for future generations. It is a sentiment echoed by many at the school, staff and students alike, for more than just one reason.
“It has a social benefit, but it also has a financial benefit if you do it well,” said Algonquin president Kent MacDonald. “Just these toilets, as an example, will in fact save the college money. It’s good for the environment, but it will save us money in the partnership we have with that project.”
Ultimately, ESCO2’s first phase of replacing water fixtures throughout the school is a win-win project for Algonquin, both saving money and making the school more eco-friendly and green. This is something many take pride in, including MacDonald.
“Quite frankly, using less water in this day and age is the smart thing to do.”