FortisBC Grant Energizes Selkirk College’s Sustainability Project
A $10,000 grant from FortisBC has energized Selkirk College’s quest for sustainability, joining together as leaders in the community.
“Sustainability is important at the college,” says grant applicant and Selkirk College Geography and Hydrology instructor Allison Lutz. “It’s our responsibility as leaders in our community to demonstrate responsible stewardship of our environment and this grant will help us to conduct a sustainability audit, and set new goals around reducing greenhouse gases and energy use.”
The grant comes from FortisBC to support community energy planning, energy efficient design and organizational policies that support environmental sustainability use.
“Selkirk College has shown leadership by taking steps to identify which energy-conservation priorities will make the most impact, and FortisBC is glad to be a part of that,” says Danielle Wensink, director of conservation and energy management for FortisBC. “Working together from an early stage ensures energy-saving upgrades will be strategic and well-planned.”
Lutz describes the work that’s stemmed from the 2009 State of the Environment Report, the impetus for the College’s Sustainability Action Plan.
“The College has made a ton of improvements in the last six years. Most of them have been in infrastructure thanks to our maintenance team. We’ve improved our heating and cooling system. We have new windows, and lighting. We’ve reduced our energy consumption and our greenhouse gas production,” she says. “Now, we need to measure our achievements by comparing improvements to our baseline data and then set new goals. We need to refocus and see where our priorities are at.”
Former School of Environment and Geomatics student Cali Olleck has been brought on board to carry out the work, develop sustainability curriculum specific to this project, monitor progress and compile data as the environment report gets updated in 2016.
“It’s a real opportunity to connect with people around the college and just have those conversations about sustainability and hear ideas about what can be done,” says Olleck.
Some future goals are to replace the hot water heater for Castlegar Gymnasium and Nelson’s Patenaude building heating plant, complete an energy audit of the Tenth Street Campus and continue converting all interior lighting to LED. Conservation goals include reducing numbers of fridges, microwaves and space heaters and teaching energy wise usage following an investigation into appliance use on campus.
The FortisBC grant reinforces the efforts and encourages Selkirk College to keep on striving.
“It’s like getting your exam marks back and finding out that you’ve done well, that we’ve accomplished something here,” Lutz says.
With learning at the heart of Selkirk College, this sustainability project becomes part of the lesson.
“Using the sustainability data in course curriculum whether it be a stats class, a computer class with a spreadsheet or a sustainability course, it’s always good to use real data that’s relevant and local,” says Lutz. “In the School of Environment and Geomatics, we strive to provide hands-on-real-world learning opportunities to our students.”
That education extends to the broader public.
“As a community college, we are in a privileged position to interact with many people in the community we serve,” says Lutz. “We strive to be progressive and innovative as an example, sharing our success with others and being a role model in the community.”