Sustainability for the Win

by Manasa R

plant is in hands

“We aspire to be a model campus which takes zero input from outside and disposes zero output out of its boundary -chiefly in terms of energy, water and fuel” said Merin Thomas, Head of SNET, when asked about what the organization seeks to achieve in the near future.

Sustainability Network of IIT Madras is a student initiative established in June 2009, mentored by the administration and alumni of IITM. It acts as the workforce in campus to promote sustainable living practices in the campus community. SNET follows a simple ideal – implementing and practicing sustainable life style and promoting it all over the nation through proven examples. The vision of a progressive administration, passion of some determined alumni and enthusiasm of a group of students has evolved into a mission to make IIT Madras a model for the nation to follow.

“From the beginning, the Bureau of Energy Efficiency’s (BEE) energy audit training to the SNET members helped us appreciate the intensity of our cause better,” she explained. Yet, during its initial stages, SNET saw moderate activity, the team working chiefly on an intellectual platform rather than implementation.

Three years old, SNET has gradually picked up momentum, adding all necessary elements to make it a sustainable initiative. However, the most remarkable part of the development is that it is a student led, student managed organization with participation and involvement from passionate faculty members, alumni and industry experts. SNET now boasts of a well-structured team with Prof. Sudhir Chella Rajan (Dept. of Humanities and Social studies) as the Faculty Advisor. It is currently associated with a number of organizations and industries such as Selco, Gamesa and Exnora, with mutual knowledge sharing and reciprocal assistance being the motivating factors.

SNET was involved in a number of activities since its establishment. Notable are:

  • It organized the TechSoc Sustainability Challenge in the year 2010-2011. It put forth a problem statement – evaluation of electricity consumptions in hostels by conducting an electricity audit and then suggesting measures to decrease excessive consumption.
  • A thorough electricity consumption analysis of the entire campus was conducted with focus on hostels and departments. The results were presented to the administration, a few alumni and students of IIT Madras.
  • SNET participated in the Green Brigade Awards by the Confederation of Indian Industries (CII).
  • On the 19th and 20th of August 2011, SNET in association with IITM Energy Forum (faculty initiative by Prof. Ajit Kumar Kolar) celebrated Renewable Energy Day.
  • Its members are also volunteering for the tree census (as part of the on-going tree census programme for Chennai  by the Tamil Nadu Forest Dept.) in association with Prakriti, a faculty initiative within IITM.

As stimulating as the statement at the beginning, is SNET’s set of plans for the current year. The concept of working groups has been enforced wherein in a team of students guided by faculty and alumni work on a problem and come up with solutions. SNET has a mission of making IITM campus self-sustainable in the next 4-5 years. In line with this long term goal, the following activities have been planned out for this year.

  • A thorough electricity audit of 5 major electricity consuming departments is to be conducted with professional help. One department and one hostel would be chosen as the focal point of implementation of various sustainable and eco-friendly initiatives on a pilot scale.
  • Electricity audit of the Administrative Section has also been planned. Audit training would be provided to the students through BEE or a competent authority.
  • Initiative of water harvesting would be implemented on a pilot basis in the model hostel. A thorough study of water consumption would be conducted in the hostel zone. In addition, SNET is documenting the current state of water harvesting in all the hostels. A formal exercise would be initiated to repair the damaged water harvesting systems.
  • A Waste management project would be initiated for deploying ways to make use of the generated waste and for minimizing it in the process.
  • Afforestation initiatives would also be attempted, after looking at possible sites for undertaking them.

S-NET aims at acting as a facilitator for finding students who can work with mentors towards developing solutions which can be implemented in the institute to help make it self-sustainable. Being a one-of-its-kind body in the institute, SNET is striving hard to make an impact and to popularize the importance of sustainability in the world as it is today.

For sharing ideas on sustainability, drop in a mail to [email protected]

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