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Announcing the first ever Green Investment Fund recipients

Projects aim to help UM reach 2050 climate goals

April 22, 2024 — 

This Earth Day, we’re celebrating the first ever Green Investment Fund recipients, which will help our University of Manitoba community reach our 2050 Climate Action Plan goals . The Green Investment Fund was created to spur community involvement in helping us reach these goals and to encourage meaningful collaboration between faculty, staff and students in the name of sustainability.

“We’re thrilled to announce this year’s Green Investment Fund recipients and grateful for the careful thought and innovative thinking demonstrated by all applicants,” said Raman Dhaliwal, associate vice-president (Admin).

The funded projects will tackle sustainability issues through the lens of the UM Climate Action Plan’s (CAP) four pillars: waste, energy and buildings, transportation, and land.

Green Investment Fund projects

Out like a light

The first of the two projects selected, which falls under the energy can buildings CAP pillar, is the replacement of old fluorescent light fixtures in the Duff Roblin Animal Holding Facility. These fixtures are not energy-efficient.

The Animal Holding Facility is a 13,000 square-foot facility that relies solely on artificial lighting, as it is in the basement of the Duff Roblin building. Mark Fry, associate professor in the Department of Biological Science, has proposed that the existing fluorescent fixtures be replaced with an energy-efficient LED system, which would save roughly $2,000 per year in electricity costs.

The new LED system is also expected to last more than 20 years, amounting to a minimum of $40,000 in savings over its lifespan.

High-pitched recycling?

It may surprise many UM community members to learn just how critical helium is to chemistry research on campus. 900 litres of the inert gas is used every year in the operation of four nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR) spectrometers, which are incorporated into both research and teaching.

As the only non-renewable element on Earth, there are no feasible alternatives to the use of helium, which is why Ute Kothe, Dean of Extended Education and former Chemistry department head, and team are proposing the installation of a helium capture-and-liquification system to mitigate waste.

This system will recover 90 per cent of the used helium, helping to prevent irreversible helium loss and dramatically reducing carbon emissions caused by the spectrometers. It’ll also reduce annual helium costs by at least $25,000, while reducing auxiliary carbon emissions even further by reducing the transport of liquid helium to UM.

Projects funded through other means

Though they don’t fully meet Green Investment Fund requirements, the committee identified three other projects that will viably demonstrate UM’s commitment to sustainability within our community and for all Manitobans. These projects will receive funding through other budgets within the Office of Sustainability.

Bikes on bikes on bikes

Simon Wang, Director of Facilities, has proposed double-stacking bike racks, which would be installed near the Active Living Centre instead of the traditional bike racks planned for the cage. This will more than double the capacity from 28 to 60 bikes in a space that would normally fit just two cars.

Flame efficiency

The second project aims to reduce UM’s carbon footprint by studying the burners in the power plant, which relies on natural gas combustion to produce power. Our Energy and Combustion Laboratory in the Department of Mechanical Engineering has developed significant expertise in improving combustion efficiency, and their goal would be to analyze and optimize the existing burners in order to save energy.

Operation: Recycle

With the health care sectors significant environmental impact due to its high consumption of resources and proportional waste, one team is proposing better recycling systems in operating rooms throughout the province. Recycling bins in ORs is actually rather hit or miss, so Sydnee Tuckett and Sarvesh Logestty are suggesting recycling standards, along with staff education programs for proper waste streams. This project has been referred to Shared Health for funding, as its implications are far-reaching for Manitoba health care.

Got a project idea?

This year’s application period for the UM Green Investment Fund will be opening soon! Keep an eye on UM Today for all the details.

If you have any questions about the Green Investment Fund or its projects, reach out to greenfund [at] umanitoba [dot] ca.

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