Two environmental groups are rising from the ashes at St. Thomas University.
The Fredericton Young Greens club was brought back to life in September by recent graduate and deputy leader of the Green Party of N.B., Denis Boulet, after it had been dormant since 2015. STU’s vice-president of finance Lily Fraser is looking to re-establish the President’s Advisory Committee on Campus Environmental Policy this month, which became inactive when it’s members left the university.
The Young Greens are currently circulating a petition in support of a carbon-neutral campus.
Joshua Sallos is a mature first-year student and interim co-chair of the Fredericton Young Greens.
“We didn’t want to be a group that was just promoting people to vote for the party, we wanted to be a group that was actually working on projects, working to make the community — at least locally — a better place,” he said.
The club was interested in reducing greenhouse gas emissions on campus, and after asking around, discovered the university’s environmental policy and a 2011 environmental audit. The policy was last updated in 2011 and was scheduled for review in 2016.
The review never happened, in part because the President’s Advisory Committee on Campus Environmental Policy has been inactive for approximately a year since its members are no longer at STU.
Still, the university has been focusing its activities around the recommendations of the 2011 audit, said STU’s associate vice-president communications Jeffrey Carleton.
Given STU’s small facilities management team, Carleton said for the past 18 months the main focus has been the renovations to Harrington Hall, which were completed in September.
“Completing the Harrington Hall upgrade is an environmental step forward for the university, given the new ventilation systems and the new insulation and higher quality materials,” Carleton said.
Those improvements will reduce the carbon footprint of Harrington Hall and the university.
Other improvements include the installation of electric hot water heaters in Brian Mulroney Hall to reduce the steam volume usage in the building, reducing energy demands on buildings by scheduling the ventilation systems to be off or running at a lower level during the holidays and weekends, and new recycling bins in Harrington.
Carleton said with Harrington completed, STU’s vice-president of finance is looking to update the membership of the president’s advisory committee and establish regular meetings.
“That committee will look at the environmental audit, see what’s still there that has to be accomplished, then look at the policy in relation to what the audit says, because the audit is the practical day-to-day what they can do to improve the environmental sustainability of campus,” said Carleton.
The Young Greens are currently reviewing the 2011 audit to see if revisions may be required or encouraged.
According the Brett Stanford, a third-year student and member of the Young Greens, STU’s energy consumption from 2006-10 was at an average of 10-million kilowatt-hours a year, costing an average of $700,000 and releasing an estimated 5,500 tonnes of carbon dioxide.
The group said their next step is to reach a goal of 200 signatures on the petition — approximately 10 per cent of the student body — and then bring support forward to the Students’ Union and the administration. Sallos said so far support has been encouraging, and because the initiative is campus-focused and affects all students, the group is reaching more people than just those already aligned with the Green Party.
“Maybe not everybody was interested in getting involved with the Green Party club, but far more people were interested in getting involved with the petition,” Sallos said.
Nikita Spencer is a second-year psychology and environment and society student who joined the Young Greens last week after seeing their booth and petition at the clubs and societies fair.
“I found out the Young Greens were doing a revision of the audit and I guess since they were doing that I just figured it was something I was interested in,” Spencer said.
Spencer has been interested in environmental issues since high school.
“It’s more about the injustice that follows with the environmental issues that really has grabbed me and made me so passionate about it. But it’s really interesting to see, especially going to a liberal arts school how everything ties in back to the environment.”
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