The University of Saskatchewan is going to be a little warmer come May and a little bit colder in the fall as the Facilities Management Division moves to reduce carbon emissions and energy usage.
The commitment was announced during International Polar Bear Day on Feb. 27. FMD will allow building temperatures to rise by two degrees during the spring and summer months and fall by one degree during the fall and winter.
Alongside facility building managers, FMD will be looking to identify which areas of campus need specific temperatures. Rooms for research and animal care are among the places that will be exempt from the temperature change due to specific operational needs.
The University and College Presidents’ Climate Change Statement of Action for Canada was signed by former U of S President Peter MacKinnon on Oct. 1, 2010 and committed the university to take account of its total greenhouse gas emissions.
The reports showed that in 2012, emissions from natural gas accounted for only 31 per cent of the total amount produced while 62 percent of total emissions were accredited to the production of electricity for usage on campus. Emissions from both sources were expected to increase in the future because of the construction boom and the additional emissions it would create.
The U of S “has made a commitment to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions to 20 per cent below 2006–07 emission levels by 2020. Changing building temperatures … is a low-cost way to meet five per cent of our targeted emissions reductions,” Office of Sustainability Environmental Initiatives Liaison Heather Truman wrote in an email.
According to statistics in a U of S press release from Feb. 26, the difference in temperature will save approximately $200,000 in utility costs and reduce carbon emissions by 2,000 tonnes annually.
“Reducing 2,000 tonnes of carbon emissions is equal to taking 400 cars off the road annually,” said Douglas Clark, centennial chair and assistant professor from the School of Environment and Sustainability.
Polar Bears International — a polar bear conservation group — is asking individuals and businesses alike to make a difference by joining the university in their Thermostat Challenge and reducing their carbon footprint.
“Through this step, the university is helping raise awareness of how our daily actions impact the polar bear’s sea ice habitat. At the same time, they’re showing their commitment to action on climate change and a sustainable future. We hope other universities will be inspired to do the same,” wrote Krista Wright, executive director of PBI, in the university’s press release.
Clark said the timeframe to combat melting sea ice is quickly closing.
“We found that the region is changing quickly already.”
Research published by PBI’s chief scientist Steven Amstrup has shown that unless carbon emissions are greatly reduced, the polar bear population could drop by 50 percent by 2050.
Every year more conflicts between people and polar bears in northern cities and towns are being reported, largely due to the reduction of habitat for the bears causing them to wander into settled areas.
Graphic: Cody Schumacher/Graphics Editor