Wednesday, February 18, 2009

  • Townhouses get free hot water system
  • 'A better architect when you travel'
  • Editor:
  • Chris Redmond
  • Communications and Public Affairs

Townhouses get free hot water system

by Beth Bohnert, from the UW alumni e-newsletter

Wouldn't it be nice to enjoy a hot shower with fewer worries about the cost and environmental impact of heating water? Residents of UW's Columbia Lake Village North Community are now able to do just that with the help of an innovative water heating system invented by UW alumnus Gerald Van Decker (BASc 1993, MASc 1996).

Thanks to Van Decker (pictured) and a partnership with Reid's Heritage Homes and Union Gas Limited, each of the community's new 250 townhouses has been outfitted with a Power-Pipe Drain Water Heat Recovery (DWHR) system — installed at no cost to the university.

[Van Decker with pipe and hardware]Water heating is the second-largest energy demand in the home, accounting for 20 to 30% of total energy consumption. The Power-Pipe is a heat exchanger that safely uses outgoing warm drain water to heat incoming cold fresh water. The result is a cost-effective decrease in energy costs and a dramatic cut in home greenhouse gas emissions.

"With the installation of these Power-Pipes units at Columbia Lake Village, I estimate that GHG emissions will be reduced by at least 72 tonnes per year," Van Decker says.

These aren't the first Power-Pipes units to be installed on campus. In the fall of 2008, Van Decker donated a Power-Pipe system to reclaim heat from the residence kitchen dishwasher at Conrad Grebel University College.

"I have given back to the university because I'm very grateful for the way my UW education taught me to meet and conquer virtually any challenge that I may face," he says.

His company, RenewABILITY Energy Inc., which manufactures residential, commercial, and industrial Power-Pipe systems, has successfully deployed Power-Pipes in university residences, apartment buildings, homes and industrial facilities across North America, in Europe and in Asia. In January, the firm announced a partnership with Habitat for Humanity Canada in which it has agreed to donate Power-Pipe units for all Habitat homes across Canada in 2009.

Back to top

[Two live officers and one on a poster]

'Right Fit to Serve' was the theme as the UW residences hosted an evening event in late January about "opportunities in policing". About 60 students heard from several officers, including two UW alumni, about forensics, the special response unit, drugs and fraud investigation. Aswin Alexander, a residence don, speaks with Sergeant Dean Smith of the Waterloo Regional Police; Constable Kyle Lambert is in the background.

Back to top

'A better architect when you travel'

by Adrienne Raw, from the Inside Scoop newsletter for co-op students

For recent architecture graduate Carmen Lau, an international work term is about more than just getting away from home; it’s about opportunity, experience, learning, and her future career. In her time at UW, she has had a number of international experiences including Paris, London, and Tamil Nadu, India. “You’re ultimately a better architect when you travel, see other countries, get to know their culture,” she says, “as buildings influence people, society, culture, and economy.”

Lau spent her work terms as an architectural intern, doing everything from completing working drawings and building physical models for clients in Paris and London’s corporate setting to designing and inspecting toilets and helping to make the bricks used to construct the buildings in Tamil Nadu’s more hands-on environment.

[Lau at Stonehenge]She spent two of her international terms in London with Kohn Pederson Fox Associates. Part of her work was research on the cultural significance of Stonehenge, a world wonder and architectural landmark (right).

But the work term she had in India is the one she feels will be most applicable to her future. “India helped me understand how important architecture is to people and its community and how buildings help to put cities and villages on the map,” she says. “I like to create architecture that benefits people and their lifestyle; India just helped me confirm that goal. I want to use my skills for the less fortunate. I’ve been doing a lot of charity work and realize that I should volunteer my skills to help underdeveloped countries.”

Says Lau: “The best part of working internationally was seeing what other people come up with — architecturally, culturally, socially, and artistically. It’s just so strange to see how people solve everyday problems compared to how we would do it.” She speaks specifically of her time in India where inspecting, designing, and educating people about toilets was an important part of her job. In this part of India, “a lot of people can’t afford to buy toilets and would relieve themselves in their back yard or on the roadside.” Because of the risk of pathogens, she had to teach people about the benefit of using toilets and help design ones that would help people while being kind to the environment.

But international work terms are not all fun and games. “The most challenging part is the language,” she says. “I’ve been to a lot of countries that aren’t using my first language; you need to learn it to be successful at your job, at meeting people, and even eating.”

She chose international opportunity because, she says, “I know how things are done in Canada; I need to broaden my perspectives and know that there is something more out there that I can learn and take back to my country.”

The learning she did on her international work terms is more than just academic knowledge or job skills. “I learned who I was,” she says, “what I am capable of, and gave me inspiration. I think that people are much more capable than they think.They have the potential to do a lot more. Being out of your comfort zone does this to you: you learn a lot and a lot faster.

“When you’re out in the field,” Lau says, “it’s not utopian like in class. In the workforce, there is always something hindering your real intentions, like client budget cuts, the building doesn’t meet building codes, etc.” Though she acknowledges that classes are useful for “preparing you for what you might face” and giving background knowledge, “none actually tell you this is how it is done on work terms. The co-op program is more real than school, so take it seriously.”

Lau is currently at Caruthers Shaw and Partners, an architecture office in Toronto, for the next eight months, after which she will spend two and a half months cycling across Canada for charity with the Mikey Foundation. She is planning to continue in the Master of Architecture program back at UW.


Back to top

Link of the day

Spring break

When and where

Winter term reading week February 16-20.

Centre for Education in Mathematics and Computing contests for high school students: Pascal (grade 9), Cayley (grade 10), Fermat (grade 11), taking place today.

Education Credit Union presents Ryan Fitzgerald, “Staying Invested”, 6:30 p.m., Waterloo Inn, reservations to julier@

Warrior sports: Men's basketball vs. Laurier tonight 8:00, PAC. Men's hockey at Lakehead tonight (playoff).

Chemical engineering seminar: Joost Vlassak, Harvard University, “Fracture in Coatings with Application to Low-k Dielectrics”, Thursday 3:30, Davis Centre room 1302.

myPENSIONinfo self-service pension information web site will be down for maintenance Thursday 4 p.m. through Monday morning.

Election of staff representatives to nominating committees for dean of applied health sciences and dean of mathematics, by staff in those faculties, online voting closes Thursday 8 p.m.

Last day for 50 per cent tuition fee refund, February 20.

UWdir partially out of operation February 20-22; new identity management system, WatIAM, available as of February 23. Details.

Centre for Family Business, based at Conrad Grebel University College, breakfast seminar, “Multi-Generational Workers”, Friday 7 a.m., Waterloo Inn.

Employer interviews for spring co-op work term resume February 23; rankings open February 27, 1 p.m.

QPR suicide prevention training session Monday 11:30 to 1:00, Math and Computer room 4068, register with counselling services, ext. 33528.

Joint Health and Safety Committee Monday 1:30, Commissary building room 112D.

UW Senate meets Monday 4:30 p.m., Needles Hall room 3001.

Canadian Computing Competition organized by UW for high school students, Tuesday, February 24. Details.

Employee Assistance Program presents “Seven Strategies for Highly Healthy Eating” Tuesday 12:00, Davis Centre room 1304.

Imprint Publications annual general meeting Tuesday 2:00, Student Life Centre multipurpose room.

Senate finance committee Tuesday 2:30 p.m., and March 12, 11 a.m. Details.

UAE campus event for potential students and others in the United Arab Emirates, Tuesday 7:00 to 9:00 p.m., InterContinental Hotel, Dubai. Details.

Garage sale fund-raiser for drama student trip to Italy, February 25, 1:00 to 4:00, Theatre of the Arts. Drop off items for sale at Modern Languages loading dock February 23.

The Engineering and Technology Labour Market Study: John O’Grady, Prism Economics and Analysis, presents findings of study for Ontario Centre for Engineering and Public Policy, February 25, 3:30 p.m., Carl Pollock Hall room 2387.

Graduate Student Association deadline for nominations in annual executive elections, February 25, 4:30 p.m. Election, if required, March 10-12. Details.

Pascal Lectures on Christianity and the University: Denis Alexander, University of Cambridge, “Rescuing Darwin” February 25, “Is Darwinism Incompatible with Purpose?” February 26, both 8:00, Conrad Grebel UC great hall. Details.

K-W Symphony “Bold and Brassy” with Alain Trudel, conductor and trombone, February 26, 7:30 p.m., Humanities Theatre.

Drop (penalty 1) period ends, February 27; last day to receive a WD grade for dropped courses.

Staff annual performance appraisals due at human resources department March 16.

Positions available

On this week's list from the human resources department:

• Manager, network services and telecommunications, information systems and technology, USG 13/14
• Administrative assistant/ communications coordinator, faculty association, USG 5

[Sports report]
[Athletes of the week]

Yesterday's Daily Bulletin