The Love Our Library green energy campaign was launched on the 4th September by UCC Library staff. The project began in January 2017 as an energy saving scheme, focusing on reducing energy consumption throughout the building, with any savings made being put back into the Library’s budget for sustainability project. One of the main focuses of the campaign was the banning of paper coffee cups, urging students & staff to start using reusable mugs to store their hot beverage of choice. Speaking to the Express, UCC Liaison Librarian – Library Services & Environment Ann Byrne explained the thought process behind this: “…there was a lot of waste being removed from the library each day. A huge amount of this was paper cups which at the moment are not being recycled anywhere in Ireland. Additionally the library had committed to reduction of consumption in energy and waste and in improving recycling so it was a natural progression.”
Though the campaign has only been running for a short time, responses from library users has been largely positive, according to Byrne; “We have had an incredibly positive response from both staff and students. Within 24 hours we had over 1,000 signatures to a pledge to help make the library more sustainable. Along with the signatures pledging support we were heartened by the very positive comments made by students on the day and by the level of commitment to sustainability that they spoke about.” While tea & coffee had only been allowed in the Library since 2015, smoking outside the doors has been a common practice for quite some time, and past attempts or calls to make UCC a smoke-free campus have proved controversial. Ann Byrne noted the reasons why stopping people from smoking outside the door became a central part of the campaign; “We started with the no smoking outside the building to see what kind of response we would get. We were very pleasantly surprised and almost overnight we had moved the smokers from outside the door making entry into the library a more pleasant experience. The smoke had also been going into the Quad Reading Room and this had been an issue for students using this space. It gave us the confidence to go ahead with rolling out the campaign knowing that students generally want to do the right thing.”
UCC was awarded the Green Flag in 2010, being the world’s first third level institution to get the accolade. Initiatives like Green Campus have helped secure UCC’s status as the world’s preeminent environmentally conscious university. The library has been the focus of a number of changes because it accounts for around 10% of energy used across all UCC buildings. By implementing changes in the library, such as rebalancing air conditioning & heating systems and reducing the lighting load in less used areas during the Summer it is estimated that they will have reduced energy consumption by 6%, saving approximately €15,450 in costs. There are more changes coming as the campaign continues; “We are looking at the air handling systems for Special Collections and seeing how this can be done more efficiently. We are also looking at packaging which comes to the library and how this can be avoided or at least that we use the most environmentally friendly packaging available. In the future we are also looking at replacing the library van with an electric van,” Byrne elaborated.
If you want to get involved with environmental issues on campus, Byrne suggests you get involved with Green Campus, who are offering a number of internships through the UCC Works scheme. To keep up-to-date on the ‘Love Our Library’ campaign, you can follow @UCCLibrary on Twitter.