Ugly Sweater Week promotes energy conservation at VIU

Students, faculty, staff and administrators are making a fashion statement at VIU this week.

Ugly Sweater Week is not just an opportunity to wear ugly, tacky, crazy, wacky, retro, techno or comfy sweaters to campus, says Michele Patterson, Manager, Environment and Sustainability for Facilities Services/Campus Development at VIU.

President Ralph Nilson sports a retro look to support energy conservation on campus.

“It’s a fun and highly visible way to highlight VIU’s commitment to reduce our carbon footprint and save energy costs,” says Patterson.

During the four-day event, temperatures in all Nanaimo campus buildings will be reduced two degrees. Members of the university community are being asked to wear sweaters to keep warm.

“We can reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 2.8 tonnes,” Patterson says.

There will also be significant cost-savings at VIU where fuel costs were $540,000 in the 2009/2010 fiscal year.

As an added incentive, participants in Ugly Sweater Week can have a photo taken of their attire for a chance to win a $100 gift certificate to put toward a new sweater. Two winners will be selected by online voting.

One of the simplest ways to reduce our carbon footprint and save energy costs is through changing our own personal energy consumption behavior, Patterson points out. An online energy awareness survey carried out last fall by the VIU Sustainability Office showed strong interest and awareness from both staff and students in reducing energy consumption at home and while at VIU.

She notes that wearing a sweater and turning down the heat to save money is something we often do at home. For the next four days (from Tuesday Feb. 15 to Friday Feb. 18) the array of sweaters on campus will serve as a reminder of the need to conserve energy wherever we are, Patterson says.

The VIU event is being held in conjunction with National Sweater Day on Feb. 17 promoted by World Wildlife Fund Canada.

On the web: VIU’s Ugly Sweater Week contest:  http://www.viu.ca/energymanagement/UglySweaterDay2011_000.asp

World Wildlife Fund Canada: http://wwf.ca/takeaction/sweater_day/

 2/14/2011