Ugly sweaters cause for celebration

February 3, 2012 - 5:00am

The slowly lengthening days and crocuses beginning to nose up can mean only one thing – National Sweater Day is near.

World Wildlife Fund-Canada and Loblaw, as well as BC Hydro, are encouraging folks to turn down the thermostat and don a sweater on Feb. 9. But here at VIU, cooling down a touch and wearing a sweater is cause for celebration and lasts nearly a week.

As with most institutions, more than half of the energy used at VIU goes to heating. Adapting to a workspace by putting on a sweater rather than turning up the heat can make a difference. Last year during Ugly Sweater Week an estimated 340 GJ of energy was saved. Very conservatively, each GJ of energy consumed results in 52 kg of CO2 released. So, VIU saved about 17 tonnes through that small effort alone.

This year the Nanaimo campus will turn down the heat a little between Feb. 7 and 10, (though temperatures affecting the health of animals will not be adjusted).

It's a great opportunity to have a little fun while being a part of VIU's culture of conservation. Again this year, VIU will celebrate staying warm while helping to decrease its carbon footprint by encouraging students, staff, and faculty to wear their most outrageous, whacky, eclectic, eccentric sweater(s) for the better part of a week.

Aside from helping to reduce greenhouse gas emission, participants can vie for Ugliest Sweater honours. There are two award streams – Judges' Choice, as decided by a panel of peers (students/staff/faculty/administration) and People's Choice, where the most unique sweater will be voted on by the university community via email.

Contestants can have their picture taken on campus from Feb. 7-10, or entries can be submitted via email to until Feb. 19. Voting will be open until Feb. 26 with winners announced on Monday, Feb. 27.

A sweater exchange is being added to the campaign this year, says organizer Margot Croft, Environment & Sustainability – Infrastructure & Ancillary Services at VIU.

“Bring sweaters you no longer wear to the exchange or take a sweater if you need a little more warmth. Sweaters left over at the end of the week will be donated to a local charity,” says Croft.

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