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Thursday, February 10, 2011

  • Grebel in hot water after student project
  • Thursday, the busiest day of the week
  • Editor:
  • Chris Redmond
  • Communications and Public Affairs

[On the rooftop on a bright day]
Grebel in hot water after student project

by Jennifer Konkle, Conrad Grebel University College

It started as an altruistic dream, but almost two years later, a vision for a cleaner and greener Grebel has been realized.

A student group began meeting in 2009 with the hopes of taking a more active role in environmental issues in their immediate community. The group named itself Solar Grebel and ultimately proposed a cluster of solar thermal panels on Conrad Grebel University College’s roof to preheat the domestic hot water used for their showers. With the support of Grebel administrators, these driven students researched the project, released the Request for Proposals, selected a supplier, and applied for grants.

Jonathan Van Egmond, one of the founders of the group, found the whole process invaluable. “When Solar Grebel first formed, we had no idea where to even start. In completing this project, all the students involved learned what it takes to organize a building and energy project, from beginning to end.”

Beyond practical knowledge, Madeleine Bonsma’s reason for joining Solar Grebel was to take a step towards saving the world and to help set a good example. “We as westerners grossly misuse our resources, and as a result we desperately need to take action when it comes to environmental and economic justice,” she explains. “Solar Grebel provides a way for students to work towards a sustainable and fair society. This technology will ultimately save Grebel money, and it's a great way for the college to lead by example. We hope that other residences and institutions will see the success of our project and want to try it for themselves."

Not only are the students who have participated in Solar Grebel in the past two years thrilled to see the results of their hard work (photo above), but the entire Grebel community is pleased. Van Egmond thinks a lot of the excitement has to do with seeing the equipment first hand and actually benefiting every day from its use.

“People at Grebel are generally conscientious and environmentally aware and are glad to see something like this happening,” Bonsma adds. “The most exciting thing has been the installation of the solar thermal panels themselves. That was when everyone realized that it was really going to happen, after all the waiting and the hard work.”

After several days of construction and installation in chilly December, Grebel’s first solar thermal collector began its endless cycle of heating glycol. Glycol is circulated through pipes that go between a tank in the boiler room and the panels on the roof. City water is passed through the tank and gets pre-heated by the coils of warm glycol before moving on to the boiler. On average, the cold water starts at 10 degrees Celsius. The 30-tube collector on Grebel’s roof will contribute to a 39-degree rise after 8 hours of sun, for every 150 litres of water.

“With the ever increasing concern regarding our environment and resources,” says Jeremy Weber of Hydronic Solution, another sponsor of the project, “over the next number of years we will see solar thermal and other forms of green energy explode into the North American market.”

These three solar panels will produce 7.82 megawatt hours which will ultimately contribute to 936.9 cubic metres of gas saved annually — about 14 per cent of Grebel’s current load. More importantly, Grebel’s carbon dioxide emissions will be reduced by 1,981 kilograms.

“At 7,200 BTUs per hour of heat production per collector on a full day of sun, the evacuated tube solar thermal system provided just the solution the students and administration were looking for,“ explained the installers and suppliers, Kittle Mechanical and Air Solutions, who also sponsored this project. “The installation of three S30 collectors provided a very cost effective green alternative, which can be modularly expanded upon in the future and has come in at a fraction of the cost of photovoltaic technology.”

It’s the first commercial installation of a solar thermal collector in an institutional residence of its kind, and the first installation anywhere on the Waterloo campus. Donations toward a goal of $47,800 have included $10,000 from TD, $5,000 from Grebel itself, $1,500 from student council, and $4,140 in government grants. Students in Ed Janzen’s sociology class voted to provide $100.

Once the last $6,000 has been raised, “we hope to expand our current three-panel system over the next several years to a total of 9 to 12 panels,” says Bonsma. “Also, if Grebel proceeds with a new building, we would like to incorporate this technology in its construction from the get-go.”

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Thursday, the busiest day of the week

It’s the final day for voting in the Federation of Students election, which will choose the Feds’ 2011-12 executive as well as several members of students’ council and student representatives on the university senate. Online polls close at 9:00 tonight, and election staff are urging undergraduate students to vote if they haven’t done so already. “Why vote?” writes Kirsty Budd, the Feds’ communications coordinator. “We think the question is, why not vote? Voting gives you a chance to have your say, be counted and have a hand in choosing your student government. The elected candidates will have a lot of say over your uWaterloo life for the next year. They'll be in charge of all of the things you hold near and dear: your UPass, the Bomber and the Used Bookstore!” Results of the vote will be announced tomorrow morning at 11:00 in the Student Life Centre great hall.

The Waterloo Institute for Complexity and Innovation likes to ask the big questions. Today’s is “How does technological innovation happen?” and it will be addressed between 4 and 6 p.m. through “a conversation with W. Brian Arthur”, a noted engineer and economist based at the Santa Fe Institute. Talking with him will be three people with Waterloo ties: Panel discussants: Lee Smolin of the physics department and the Perimeter Institute; Frances Westley, who heads the Waterloo Institute for Social Innovation and Resilience; and Thomas Homer-Dixon, affiliated with the arts faculty, the Centre for International Governance Innovation, and WICI itself. "More than any thing else, technology creates our world," says Arthur. “It creates our wealth, our economy, our very way of being. Yet until now major questions related to the evolution of technology have gone unanswered. What constitutes innovation, and how is it achieved? Why are certain regions — Cambridge, England, in the 1920s and Silicon Valley today — hotbeds of innovation, while others languish? Does technology, like biological life, evolve?” Today's “conversation” takes place in the theatre at the Perimeter Institute, a short distance south of the main campus. Admission is free and registration is online. “Words Worth Books will be on-site,” organizers add, with copies of Arthur’s book The Nature of Technology.

[Cover of Switch]Also happening today: David Willsie of the national wheelchair rugby team speaks at 1:00 in the Sun Life Auditorium, Lyle Hallman Institute building. Tomorrow morning brings a keenly awaited event aimed at staff: a talk in the Humanities Theatre (8:30 a.m.) by Dan Heath, co-author of Switch: How to Change Things When Change Is Hard.

[Grove]Trevor Grove (left), president of the staff association, writes in the latest issue of the group’s newsletter: “We have seen changes in several senior administration positions recently and that is bound to have an effect on staff. The aging of staff, as baby boomers approach retirement, is also going to have an effect. However, the goals of the university, as defined by the Sixth Decade Plan, haven’t changed. I see the current environment of change as an opportunity to make improvements in the way we do our jobs. The role of the UWSA in this environment is important. While we cannot tell departments or business-units how to do their job, we can ensure that staff policies are being adhered to and, through the activities of the Staff Relations Committee, we can be the agent for change to policies that aren’t working. In November, I attended the departmental meeting in CECS where they unveiled the plans for a major reorganization of that department. In December I also attended a similar meeting at a smaller business unit. This kind of involvement lets the staff association provide independent oversight to organizational change.”

In the same newsletter, Laurie Peloquin of co-op and career services describes her time on the Staff Relations Committee as it worked on revisions to the staff employment policy, Policy 18:  "I can assure you that the input from so many points of view resulted in a policy that everyone at the table could support. As employees of the University of Waterloo, we sometimes do not realize how large of a voice we have in the overall operations of our workplace. When I first joined the Staff Relations Committee I did not know what to expect. I certainly did not anticipate the level and types of discussions that would arise, and the positive contribution I would be able to make on behalf of all employees here. I leave the committee secure in the knowledge that there are people behind the scenes working to ensure that I am treated fairly by my employer, and have opportunities for advancement commensurate to my abilities."

Mirjana Radulovic of the marketing and undergraduate recruitment office is in India this week attending a series of education fairs (if this is Thursday, it must be Hyderabad). • The Federation of Students launched a new version of its website a few days ago, with Feds president Bradley Moggach saying publicly that he's "very proud" of the organization's web developer, though she hasn't been identified. • The staff association is taking applications for this term's $500 undergraduate and graduate awards, available to dependents of association members.

Finally, a couple of follow-ups to yesterday's article about the inventory of land that Waterloo owns and space that Waterloo leases in many cities and lands. I wrote that the Toronto office was in the MaRS Discovery District building (the old Toronto General Hospital); in fact, it moved a couple of years ago from MaRS to a suite in the Atrium on Bay complex. And I didn't mention — because it wasn't included in the listing submitted to the board of governors — another location where Waterloo has a presence: the recently opened Communitech Hub in downtown Kitchener, where some VeloCity high-tech projects are being incubated.


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Link of the day

The Plimsoll line

When and where

Employer interviews for spring term co-op jobs (“main” group of students) through February 16. Ranking opens February 16 at 1 p.m., closes February 18 2 p.m., results available 4 p.m. Details.

Class enrolment appointments on Quest to choose spring term courses, February 7-12. Open enrolment begins February 14. Details.

Centre for Teaching Excellence offices closed Thursday for professional development.

Warrior swimming team at OUA championships, Guelph, Thursday-Saturday.

Blood donor clinic at Student Life Centre, today 10 to 4, Friday 9 to 3; appointments, call 1-888-2DONATE.

Library workshop: “Demystifying the Statistics Canada Website” 1:30, Flex Lab, Dana Porter Library. Details.

Career workshops today: “The Power of LinkedIn” 2:30, Tatham Centre room 2218; “Thinking about Med School? Perspectives of a Waterloo Grad” 6:00, Tatham room 1208. Details.

School of Computer Science distinguished lecture: Gilles Brassard, Université de Montréal, “Quantum Magic in Secret Communication” 4:30, Davis Centre room 1302.

Master of Business, Entrepreneurship and Technology information session 5:00, 295 Hagey Boulevard. Details.

Tobogganing with International Student Connection, 5:00 to 7:00, beside Columbia Icefield (meet 4:30 at Student Life Centre room 3107).

Muslim Students Association presents the documentary “Prince Among Slaves” 6:00, Rod Coutts Hall room 306.

Pascal Lectures on Christianity and the University: Mary Poplin, Claremont Graduate University, “How the Religious Worldview Became a Secret” tonight 7:30, Humanities Theatre; “Diminishing the Marketplace of Ideas” Friday 7:30, Humanities; student conversation, “Is Anything Sacred?” Friday 2:30, Hagey Hall room 1104. Details.

‘Dissocia: A Digital Gambling Venture’ original production by department of drama, through Saturday at 8 p.m., Saturday-Sunday at 2 p.m., Hagey Hall Studio 180.

Award for Exceptional Teaching by a Registered Student (Amit and Meena Chakma Award) nominations due Friday. Details.

Mobile Internet: ‘Materialities and Imaginaries’ conference sponsored by Wilfrid Laurier University, Friday-Sunday at Communitech Hub, Kitchener. Details.

Organizational and Human Development speaker event: Dan Heath, “Switch, How to Change Things When Change Is Hard” Friday 8:30 a.m., Humanities Theatre. Details.

Knowledge Integration seminar: Larry Swatuk, international development program, “Why I Hated Larry’s Party and Why I Love It Now” Friday 2:30, Environment 2 room 2002.

International Spouses “walk and talk” visit to Vincenzo’s Italian grocery, Friday 6 p.m., meet at 150 Caroline Street South, all welcome, e-mail intlspouses@ if attending.

St. Jerome’s University lecture: Mary Jo Leddy, “Justice Has a Face” Friday 7:30, Siegfried Hall.

2011 Sawatsky Lecture: Donald Kraybill, Elizabethtown College, “Forgiveness in the Face of Tragedy: Amish Grace at Nickel Mines” Friday 7:30, Conrad Grebel UC great hall.

‘Showcase Your Roots’ celebration of black culture, organized by Black Association for Student Expression and other groups, Sunday 6:00, Humanities Theatre.

Propel Centre for Population Health Impact presents “Advancing Public Health: Science and Innovation in Tobacco Control”, talk by researchers from Harvard School of Public Health, Tuesday 3:30, Sun Life Financial Auditorium, Lyle Hallman Institute, reception follows.

WatPD elective course information session, Tuesday 4:00, Tatham Centre room 1208. Details.

UWRC Book Club: The Swallows of Kabul by Yasmina Khadra, Wednesday 12:00, Dana Porter Library room 407.

Education Credit Union session on “Personal Tax Planning” February 17, 12:15, Davis Centre room 1302, RSVP janinew@ by February 10.

Lois Claxton, secretary of the university, farewell reception February 17, 4:00, University Club, RSVP ext. 36125 by February 11.

Family Day holiday, university closed, Monday, February 21.

Reading week February 21-25, classes not held.

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