Sweltering days have finally passed. As every year goes by, we greatly suffer from the stifling heat of summer days. The world has been continuously encountering the problems of global warming, climate change, overconsumption of energy, and environmental degradation. Although people are well aware of the gravity of the issues and various efforts have been made, the problems have been worsening for a long time. Universities, one of the most energy-guzzling institutions, have begun to make a move to relieve the seriousness of environmental issues. Korea University (KU) is now a leading university in promoting an environmentally friendly campus.
▲ KU Central Plaza, Photographed by Kim Na Young
KU Green Campus is organized by three groups—the KU Green Team, the Green Campus Committee, and Green Campus Student Ambassadors. Established on March 2, 2012, KU Green Team is the first environment-related department founded at a Korean university. Having as a primary purpose the establishment of an environmentally friendly campus, KU Green Team has continuously held various green activities and campaigns for KU students.
KU Green Team in Action
In order to instill the significance of an individual student’s effort in saving energy, KU Green Team has made small, yet highly efficient changes on campus. “We changed fluorescent lights used in campus buildings to light-emitting diode (LED) lights. We installed automatic sensors in parking lots and restrooms,” said Paek Wan Jong of KU Green Team. KU Green Team constantly takes a careful look at the amount of electricity consumed at each building on campus through the means of Building Energy Management Solutions (BEMS) located in the Green Team office. When peak electrical usage reaches 97 percent, the system automatically sends an emergency text message to a technician. By applying strengthened controls, KU Green Team has experienced a constant retrenchment in energy consumed on campus.
KU Green Team has also been organizing a diverse range of green events. In 2013 Ipselenti “Jiya Hamsung” (Roar of Wisdom and Wilderness), the team held its first green film festival at KU Cinema Trap. Students were invited to watch environmental movies and encouraged to have a discussion with reporters and directors in the environmental field. A green rummage sale was also held during the festival period. Paek claimed, “We granted students a valuable opportunity to participate in diverse green activities and motivated them to make energy conservation a part of their daily routines.”
The team’s active promotion also took place during the Annual Ko-Yon Games. The group designed a video clip for the green campus campaign. They found it effective to constantly emphasize their existence on campus especially while the school’s most important events are being held. As such, countless attempts by KU Green Team were made throughout semesters
Student Ambassadors During Vacations
Along with KU Green Team’s efforts during semesters, KU Green Campus student ambassadors also played significant roles in leading the campus to an environmentally friendly place during summer and winter breaks. Diverse attempts have been made—student ambassadors distributed fans and handkerchiefs in summer and blankets to staff members in winter. They visited every building on campus and checked the air conditioning and heating systems. Woo Hyo Min (’12, French Language and Literature), one of the Green Campus student ambassadors who worked on this summer break, said, “Going through all the buildings on campus and submitting a work report every time, I found myself fully satisfied for being able to contribute to green campus or green society.”
The student ambassadors are also active in promotion both online and offline. They update the KU Green Team website and Facebook. Various surveys are conducted and promotional brochures are distributed to students. KU Green Campus Newsletter was also published in March with the collaboration of student ambassadors and KU Green Team.
KU Green Team and student ambassadors admit that turning off one light does not make a significant difference. They do not expect to see a significant decrease in energy consumption in a short period of time. What they are aiming for, in fact, is to change individual students’ perception toward energy saving. Paek remarked, “Throughout varied activities and campaigns, we try to encourage individual students to prioritize the future of a bigger community over their instant comforts and to truly become leaders of green society.”
Students on Green Campus
Despite a wide range of activities conducted by KU Green Team and student ambassadors, student awareness of the green program is extremely low. There are certainly students aware of the program, since they often see KU Green Team visiting classes and regulating the indoor temperature; however, they may think that this is the major role of KU Green Team when there are actually countless activities planned and carried out by the team throughout the semesters.
Some students are even discontent with the green campus program. They believe that they have rights to enjoy campus life in the most convenient and pleasant way. With the air conditioning system off, many students worried that the program would have a negative influence on their academic achievement. Nam Hoon (’12, Mechanical Engineering) said, “In summer days, after climbing the hills on campus, a sweltering lecture room is waiting for me. Students can hardly focus on lectures in the sizzling temperature of the room.”
Efforts to create more efficient promotion are certainly needed from KU Green Team. However, more importantly, it is now time for students to become alerted and keep in mind the importance of individual efforts to establish a green KU, and in a bigger sense, a green world.
▲ KU Green Team office, Photographed by Kim Na Young