Till last year, Aditya Dogra never switched off lights in the hostel washroom simply because he didn’t know where they were located. He still doesn’t except that Dogra, a student at the IIT— Bombay (IITB), now knows the sensors will automatically turn off the lights when not in use.
"If there is no one in the washroom for 10 to 15 minutes, the lights go off," said Dogra, a final year civil engineering student.
In an effort to conserve energy, the institute had last year, installed sensors in bathrooms and toilet blocks in all 14 hostels and academic departments.
With an average consumption of 200 watts per toilet block, the results are telling — an approximate 70% energy saved per day.
It was in 2009 that IITB decided to take the sustainability route. And thus was born ‘Green Campus Initiative’ making IITB one of the first educational institutes to create an environmentally sustainable campus.
What followed was a three-month study by professor Shyam Asolekar that calculated the usage of various resources (See Box) before formulating an ‘eco policy’. “As we go about with our daily chores, we must live with the smallest environmental and ecological footprint. This can be achieved by consuming the least resources and creating least amount of pollution,” said Asolekar.
Taking a cue from a 2007 electricity bill of Rs 10.2 crore with 40% consumption coming from ACs, the institute has installed six solar water heaters, informed professor MB Patil, convener of the initiative.
Besides solar heaters, plans are also afoot to make use of heat generated from ACs to heat water, which can also be used for cooking.
BEYOND ENERGY CONSERVATION
The ‘eco policy’ has gone beyond achieving energy efficiency. A year back, more than 100 saplings of native species like moha and neem were planted in the campus.
While there’s been a start towards ‘zero garbage’ through a vermiculture pit, dry waste is also recycled.
The dry waste is collected every two days and given to Stree Mukti Sanghatana, an NGO, for recycling purposes.
As for the solid waste, IITB is in talks with the Bhabha Atomic Research Energy that has developed a technology to convert kitchen waste into biogas. But it’s not without the efforts of students who ride bicycles or opt for Tum- Tum, the CNG bus, that the institute can achieve a sustainable environment.