Red River College Studies Energy Waste on Campus

By Helio Kruizenga

A laptop charger left plugged in is one of many devices contributing to Red River College’s energy consumption. /HELIO KRUIZENGA

A 2017 study done by the Sustainability Office at Red River College shows that 15 per cent of the college’s total electricity comes from devices left idly plugged in.

The study aimed to research the amount of energy being unknowingly wasted by the college.

Whether or not a device is turned on, plugs left in electrical sockets still use a small amount of energy. Similar to a dripping faucet, energy waste eventually adds up, costing more money and further damaging the environment.

The devices students use to study with contribute to Red River College’s overall energy consumption. /HELIO KRUIZENGA

“[The study] was around 68 hours of work by staff members,” said Whitney Crooks, 39, Resource Reduction Specialist. “It wasn’t hard, but it definitely was time consuming.”

The Sustainability Office found that for roughly every 18 offices there were four coffee makers, and five people per coffee-maker.

The researchers also found if one person in an office has two computer monitors, everyone else in the same workspace will likely have two as well.

The Sustainability Office partnered with Xerox to find out how many printers are at the different college campuses. At the Notre Dame Campus there are roughly 981 printers in use. The Roblin Centre has 190 printers.

“I’ve printed once, only because I forgot to print at home.” said James Giesbrecht, 22, Business Information Technology student.

Refrigerators around campus use high amounts of energy because older models often don’t meet current energy standards. The Sustainability Office will be researching how much energy fridges around the campus use to help develop strategies to cut back energy waste.

According to a 2017 Red River College staff and faculty survey asking if sustainability should be a priority, 89 per cent of respondents answered yes. Paper reduction and energy reduction are two initiatives the Sustainability Office is focusing on to increase the college’s overall sustainability.

A seasonal shutdown campaign is next on the team’s agenda. This will encourage people at the college to unplug over the winter break, making RRC a more sustainable post-secondary institution.

To help minimize energy use, turning off a light switch or sharing coffee machines helps. As the plug load inventory proved, it’s the little things that add up.