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Challenge set to promote environmental principles to students

Reprinted from the University of Canterbury's "Chronicle" - 07/03/08


Forget student flat squalor ­ University of Canterbury students will soon be vying for the title of most eco-friendly flat.

Students heading back to University this year will be challenged with the "eco-my-flat" project. The student-launched initiative arose out of a wider University research project carried out by a team of summer scholarship students looking at the broad theme of engaging students and staff on aspects of sustainability.

Working on a variety of sustainability programmes over the summer have been (front row from left): Rowan Howard-Williams, Alex Ross, Allan Brent; (back row from left):Lily Duval, Dr Kate Hewson, Zo Zhou, Charlotte Stephen-Brownlie and Josie Howitt.
Working on a variety of sustainability programmes over the summer have been (front row from left): Rowan Howard-Williams, Alex Ross, Allan Brent; (back row from left):Lily Duval, Dr Kate Hewson, Zo Zhou, Charlotte Stephen-Brownlie and Josie Howitt.
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Student Lily Duval said the idea of the project was to show students that they could not only help save the planet but also save money at the same time.

"Our research indicated that education campaigns alone do not work so we created an interactive programme that will attempt to re-establish the norm of student behaviour."

During orientation week, students will be encouraged to sign up for the five-week challenge during which a new theme will be introduced each week covering topics such as energy, waste, transport and consumption.

Participants will receive an eco-my-flat pack containing information on sustainable living, vouchers for eco-bulbs, eco-bags, clean heat socks and beanies, and seeds to be planted in autumn. Environment Canterbury will facilitate weekly sustainable living workshops at which students will be given tips on how to save energy and cut down on waste.

"The workshops are designed to be interactive, entertaining and to present sustainability as something entirely within the reach of any student flat," Lily said.

"A representative or two must attend the weekly workshops and they must commit to making at least one change on the weekly topic.

"We realise that some of the energy-related issues are beyond the capacity of students and more in the landlords' court but we provide the entrant with information on how best to contact their landlord about the issues."

One lucky landlord will benefit from the competition with the winning flat receiving $500 worth of insulation. Students will also receive a range of prizes including eco-bags, cinema passes, book vouchers, Supershed vouchers, food and drink.

Judging will take place in April with waste audits, energy audits and consumption audits being conducted on the flats. Prizes will go to Most Improved, Most Innovative and Best Overall Flat.

Lily said initial feedback from students had been encouraging and there were plans to roll out the project nationwide next year.

UC Sustainability Advocate Dr Kate Hewson (Facilities Management) said a team of eight students had been working on a variety of sustainability programmes over the summer.

"The Vice-Chancellor has named sustainability as one of five key strategic challenges for the University of Canterbury. Tackling this challenge allows the University to act out and display environmental responsibility."

Projects include the development of environmental-best-practice guidelines for halls of residences; working with UCSA on café options from packaging materials used to products offered; options for greening UCSA Orientation Festival, including achieving carbon zero certification; promoting cycling and buses; extending the recycling scheme on campus; and updating the UC Sustainability website to provide a better hub for sustainability-related events, courses, and activities.

The summer sustainability programme was sponsored by the Christchurch City Council, UCSA, Campus Living Villages Ltd., and Facilities Management.



 
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