Scientific community all over the world has long reached on the consensus that climate change and the challenges of environmental sustainability pose a grave threat to our future—and, increasingly, to our present. It is high time that academic institutions being projected as the bastions of change and inspiration in the society recognized their responsibility to confront these challenges as part of their special accountability to the future. Fulfilling these obligations must be our common purpose and our shared commitment being the stakeholders in the campus environment and working for innovating our way through finding solution to these challenges on priority basis. Every climate problem can be solved through mutual cooperation and action based planning by all of those living under those environmental conditions as they all have a stake in the sustainability of their surroundings and this has been proven beyond doubt that community led grass roots movement fare much better in terms of raising awareness and achieving quantifiable targets in any advocacy campaign.
‘Students for Green Campus’ is such a community led initiative by the students of Institute of Communication Studies (ICS) at University of Punjab (PU), Lahore advocating for the awareness and prevalence of green conscience culture at academic institutions. The vision of Students for Green Campus is to shift the campus towards a carbon neutral, environmentally conscious institution through the volunteer efforts of staff and students. It also aims to become a vehicle to create, support and implement green projects driven by the university community that will reduce its carbon footprint and increase its use of sustainable practices. It also encourages students, faculty, and staff to continue piloting sustainability solutions throughout the University by using cutting-edge advances in Green energy research and teaching to tackle real-world challenges on campus. The primary purpose of this initiative is to raise awareness about environmental challenges facing humanity in short and long run and also propose practical measures that can be adopted by the students, administration and faculty in order to reduce their role in environmental degradation.
The very first step in promoting green culture at campus is to raise awareness about environmental issues and provide a framework for action. Energy conservation is the first and foremost area of interest in order to build a green campus. Pakistan is suffering from chronic energy shortages and every single energy saving initiative will go a long way in easing that deficiency. Students for Green Campus are campaigning for abolition of old tube lights and energy savers at campus premises and to replace them with energy efficient LED lights which may seem costly when buying but their cost-to-benefit ratio for long term is much more that the initial investment required. The usage of energy efficient devices does not end with lighting equipment only but each and every electric gadget can be replaced with a better alternative in a gradual manner. Having energy saving electric appliances is one thing but green culture demands a conscious effort by every individual at campus to play their role for the optimum use of these appliances. Turning off the lights, fans and Air Conditioners when leaving the class should not be responsibility of the office staff only but every student and teacher deem it essential for them to be responsible about using electric appliances during class and then turning them off after they are finished using them.
Conserving energy is without any doubt, the first priority in a green culture but developing means of energy creating that are sustainable and environment friendly is even more important. Solar technology has been developed to the extent where it can easily replace the conventional means of energy production. Again, installing solar panels is a one-time only investment which provides long term benefits both in terms of environment sustainability and energy costs reductions. As per the data provided by Engineering Department of Punjab University Lahore, 50 % of the electricity load on campus in non-AC hence that can be easily shifted to solar energy. This will not only make the campus truly Green and environment friendly but also decrease the electricity costs of Punjab University. Most departments and institute of PU operate during day time i.e. from 9AM-5PM which is also the optimum operating time for solar panels because this is when the sun shines at its fullest and solar panels work most efficiently. This makes the PU best candidate for solar installations work load during day time.
Besides energy conservation and using solar energy for electricity needs, making the campus green incorporates many more environmental friendly activities to be carried out at campus premises. Students for Green campus are also advocating for using green fueled transportation at campus along with promoting the use of bikes among students and faculty members for traveling inside the campus premises. Furthermore, the concept of green office and paper-less culture is also being promoted under this campaign on campus. All these activities are being managed by student groups only with no material or political benefits in mind. Wish us Best of Luck.