From Facebook to Fruition

UNBC launches a Green Contest to inspire new environmental initiatives

March 8, 2012

The University of Northern British Columbia is enlisting the help of the surrounding community to suggest ways in which it can become even greener. Canada’s Green University has launched a Facebook contest wherein participants can make suggestions on a new green initiative for the University as part of its fifth annual Green Day celebration on March 20.

Entrants have two weeks to post their idea and rally others to vote for their submission. The most popular entry has the potential to become the next environmentally sustainable project that the University undertakes.

“The immediate response to this contest was overwhelming. We had 33 suggestions within the first 24 hours,” says UNBC President, George Iwama. “Empowering the UNBC population is appropriate as Canada’s Green University. It provides the opportunity to get involved in purposeful environmental change, and links our current and former student community with UNBC’s mandate to ‘walk the walk’”.

Thus far, suggestions range from traditional ideas such as banning bottled water and paper coffee cups on campus and making all washing machines in residence cold-water only, to more unique initiatives like incorporating tiles that convert kinetic energy from people's footsteps into renewable electricity and housing an aquaponics greenhouse on-campus. 

After two weeks of voting online, the top five candidates will be announced and receive prizes on March 20: UNBC’s 5th Annual Green Day, including green baskets from the University Bookstore, $1000 in prize money from Integris Credit Union, and the potential to be UNBC’s next green project, as selected by the Green Day Committee.

UNBC’s Students for a Green University (SGU) President Becky Dochstader and NUGSS Associate Director of Campus Sustainability Cam Bell are big fans of the contest.  “As UNBC’s Environmental Club, SGU’s mandate is to educate, motivate, and inspire UNBC students, staff, and faculty to make environmentally-positive changes individually as well as at the University-level,” says Bell after sampling some locally-made salsa with President Iwama at the University Farmers’ Market. “One of the things we really appreciate about UNBC is the ability students and the whole community have to make things happen so I’m hoping to see one of the submissions implemented in the next few years.”

UNBC is known for its dedication to sustainable environmental projects. It hosts a weekly farmer’s market on campus, and includes campus-wide composting and recycling. In 2010, it shared the top campus sustainability award in North America with Harvard University for its Bioenergy Project—using wood waste from local mills to heat the University, and reducing its fossil fuel consumption by up to 85%. Students recognized UNBC in the Globe and Mail’s 2012 University Report Card issue when they ranked UNBC #1 in Canada for its environmental commitment.

The Green Day Facebook contest closes March 15, 2012.
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Photo: Cam Bell, UNBC president George Iwama, and SGU president Becky Dochstader sample some locally-made salsa at the University Farmers' Market.
Green Day 2012 Contest
Celebrate UNBC's 5th Annual Green Day: Going Green in Your Own Backyard! 

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