Enviro-friends get honoured with an Emerald

The University of Calgary’s Solar Team was one of the 14 recipients recognized for their environmentally friendly achievements at the 16th annual Emerald Awards on Wed., Jun. 6.

The awards—given out by the Alberta Emerald Foundation­—honoured individuals and organizations that made outstanding commitments to the preservation,
protection, enhancement or sustainability of the environment. Alberta Emerald Foundation
communications consultant
Leona Yez explained the awards exist not only to showcase environmental excellence, but also to set an example for others.

The U of C Solar Team received the youth award for their solar car which, at 80 km/hr, uses the equivalent amount of energy as a hairdryer, compared to a regular car which uses 50–100 times as much energy.

“The biggest reason for the solar car is not so much to promote the use of solar energy as a vehicle supply, so much as it is to promote efficiency in everyday living,” said lead engineer Shawn Zwierzchowski. “The education side of the project is the real reason for being there—getting out to schools and letting the people that, in ten years time, will be the decision makers know how important [sustainable energy] is.”

Calgary’s Grassroots NW Environmental Awareness Society received the community group award for their environmental awareness initiatives, which began with recycling drives in the Tri-Wood community, before Calgary adopted its current green bin system.

“It was almost like a pilot project and the city realized recycling was going to work,” said Grassroots’ founding member Nancy Hansen, noting the drives soon became
huge, monthly events. “At the
time, we were hoping that if
people had to take the time
to sort and store, they would
think when they were buying.”

After Grassroots’ members saw their vision of community recycling bins implemented across the city, they started the farmers’ market at Northland Mall, which Hansen noted supports local growers and vendors with environmentally friendly products.

The Emerald Awards also honour the environmental initiatives of
large corporations. This year, the EnCana Corporation received the award for climate change and Petro-Canada tied with the City of Edmonton in the large business category. Yez noted the importance of recognizing corporations’
commitments to the environment.

“At the beginning [of the Emerald Awards], some people got together and said ‘there’s a lot of negative media surrounding environmental stuff, but there’s also a lot of great stuff going on and we need to recognize that.” she said. “Our intent is to encourage [corporations] to keep going.”

Schulich School of Engineering associate head of undergraduate studies Dr. Patrick Hettiaratchi received the research and innovation Emerald for his pilot project with the City of Calgary to develop
sustainable landfills, which uses biocells to convert the harmful methane gas released by landfills into a source of energy.

The U of C Solar Team is currently preparing for their next race to take place in Australia Oct. 17–27.

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