Weekly Biodiesel Update

Professor John Robinson speaks at the Green Research Workshop

We made good progress at the Biodiesel Project last week. Greg has made good progress on the electrical side of the plant, and we’re approaching recommissioning with our fingers crossed.

The Project has suffered from being handed from student to student in the past. A new internal wiki will help smooth future hand-offs while standardizing our operating procedures and quality testing. In that vein, quality testing has been helped out by the arrival of a new viscometer, saving us trips to the undergraduate lab.

Last week also contained Green Research Workshop 2012, put on by Risk Management Services, the Sustainability Initiative and Supply Management. The Biodiesel Project came out and made contact with some lovely people. There were interesting and engaging talks about UBC’s new biomass heat and power plant, where UBC’s recycled plastics go, and more over the course of the day.

Particularly inspiring was Professor John Robinson’s keynote. Dr. Robinson is the Executive Director of UBC’s Sustainability Initiative. He spoke about universities’ unique ability to foster sustainable practices both on-campus and as agents of change in the larger community. He outlined UBC’s progress towards its greenhouse gas emissions goals, and noted how transformational it was to think of the entire university budget as a sustainability fund, rather than merely portioning out a fund for feel-good projects. I learned that the new biomass plant and the replacement of the campus steam system with a new hot-water system makes a substantial dent in the greenhouse gas emissions, and I was left inspired and proud to be a student at such a forward-thinking institution.

It’s a good workshop. Make sure you go next year!

(There might even be free lunch!)