Green to the core

Mount Allison’s new green roof a visible reminder of environmental action being taken across campus
By: Neil MacEachern, Director, Facilities Management

I am looking forward to spring with more enthusiasm than usual this year. As soon as the frost lifts, planting will begin on Mount Allison’s first green roof. The project has taken a lot of work from many different people to come to fruition, but it will transform an otherwise unused space on the roof of the Wallace McCain Student Centre. 

The project is exciting for many reasons: it created connections between Facilities Management, academic departments, and community partners; it provided experiential learning opportunities for students and will continue to do so; and it will be a space our community members can enjoy for years to come.

But it is also a visible expression of the University’s ongoing commitment to environmental action and reflects what departments and individuals have been doing with respect to not only limiting negative environmental impacts but creating positive ones.

In Facilities Management this has meant things like finding cleaning products that are not harmful to the environment, using new methods of snow removal and de-icing, and replacing lighting with energy efficient alternatives. One key project has been the greening of the fleet — choosing the smallest vehicle or piece of equipment to do the job and reducing our use of fossil fuels. Many of the trucks our maintenance crews used to employ have been replaced with solar-powered golf carts.

Most of the projects with the biggest environmental payoff are not things you will ever see. They include ensuring the piping in our steam tunnels is well insulated to reduce energy loss while heat is distributed across campus, and improvements to our boilers, pumps, and mechanical systems.

Each major construction or renovation project also keeps environmental impact at the forefront. Choosing energy efficient heating, lighting, and fixtures; long-wearing and good quality materials and furnishings; and reducing, re-using, and recycling resources in each building project is key to reducing our impact today and over the long-term.

One of the current projects I’m excited about is the installation of a campus-wide energy monitoring system. Not only will this help us keep an eye out for problems with our systems, it will allow us — and our campus community — to monitor energy use by building in real time. Knowing how and how much energy we use helps us be more mindful users and gives us data we can use to implement energy reduction strategies.

I’m looking forward to seeing our new green roof take shape, but I’m proud to be able to say it is only the tip of the iceberg when it comes to Mount Allison’s environmental initiatives.

Neil MacEachern
Director, Facilities Management