By Nadine Borduas, Member-at-Large for the GCI
If you happen to be visiting the Davenport Wing in the Department of Chemistry at U of T, you will notice along the side of each fumehood a ruler with hues of orange and grey with thumbs pointing up and down. Why? Well, because the fumehoods in Davenport are variable-flow fumehoods! In other words, the flow through the fumehood is dictated by the sash height. The higher the sash → the higher the flow → the higher the energy consumption → the lower the thumb. It also implies that if everyone had their fumehoods wide open, the energy consumption would actually exceed the energy of the constant-flow fumehoods in Lash Miller and invalidate the variable-flow technology as a green alternative. So, how did the GCI intervene to help ensure that variable-flow fumehoods were being kept at optimal heights?
Back in 2008, the Sustainability Office (SO) at U of T had run a campaign to “Just Shut It”. The campaign was launched to minimize the energy consumption of the variable-flow fumehoods in the Davenport Wing. Over the course of approximately a year and a half, SO ambassadors inspected the fumehoods and rewarded complying students.
There are two ways to comply: 1) if you’re not at your fumehood, it should be shut below 3 inches, and 2) if you are working at your fumehood, its height shouldn’t exceed 14 inches. The SO team analyzed the data and published the result of the campaign in the International Journal of Sustainability in Higher Education. Pretty impressive research!
What is most notable in this article, in my opinion, is a graph showing the compliance percentage over time. The sash height compliance during the campaign was about 80%, but eight months later, termed post-campaign, it was back down to 20%! The lack of compliance after the campaign may be due to the lack of incentives and to the quick turnaround of students in the department. So the GCI, a sustainable group of students that will hopefully be around for years to come, decided to launch a campaign, where you would have no “post-campaign” syndrome and consequently maintain high levels of energy savings.
With the help of GCI inspectors (Peter, Ian, Christine, Ran, and myself), we toured the Davenport Wing from July to September, stamping smiley faces on complying fumehoods. Kai Wan form the Morris Group was awarded a Tim Horton’s gift card for having perfect compliance over the fifteen inspections, and the Zamble Group won a free pizza lunch for having the best compliance on a group basis.
We hope the organic, bio-organic, and inorganic students of the Davenport Wing enjoyed the challenge and will continue to “just shut it”. Stay tuned for the continuation of this campaign in 2015 as well!