The provincial Beat the Heat Contest was held on August 11th where UNBC student Geoff de Ruiter won the top prize of $10,000 dollars for his submission. The contest, organized by Fortis BC and the Northwest Wildlife Preservation Society, challenged BC students to come up with a plan to optimize natural gas use for a greener BC. De Ruiter’s submission was titled “Shifting our Natural Gas to Use a Centralized Model” and involves the centralization of natural gas use via technology coupling and heat recovery.
The contest final was held at the newly completed Centre for Interactive Research on Sustainability building at UBC. De Ruiter, however, had a unique idea of how he would get to the event. He borrowed UNBC President George Iwama’s hybrid vehicle, a Toyota Prius whose plates bear the name “4 UNBC”.
“He didn’t actually lend it to me; I traded him for my pickup truck. I thought traveling in an eco-friendly car would be an appropriate way for a representative of Canada’s Green University to get to an eco-friendly contest,” explains de Ruiter who is a PhD student researching bioenergy and biocarbon sequestration in UNBC’s Natural Resources and Environmental Studies Program. “That’s one of the great things about studying at UNBC; it’s such a tight-knit community that a student can ask the president to swap cars for the weekend. And he’ll actually consider it!” During the trip, he averaged 3.8 liters per 100 kilometers (62 US MPG; 74 CDN MPG). All in, the cost of the return trip was $86.
“I’ve honestly never been asked to trade cars with a student before,” laughs Dr. Iwama. “I purchased that vehicle and personalized its plates as a symbol of the direction the University is taking and our leadership in green research. Although Geoff’s request was a little ‘outside of the box’, it is entirely consistent with the message UNBC wants to put forward as a leader in sustainability, and evokes the creative problem solving abilities of our students, faculty, and staff. I was happy to do it – and Geoff’s pickup was a fun change.”