SiC Admin Team
This year was the first time that we joined the Student Ambassador Program, as a student team representing the Restoration Department of Vilnius Academy of Arts. From the moment I learned about this project, I realized that it would be an excellent opportunity to incorporate sustainable practices into our work environment and connect with like-minded students. We created a team consisting of 7 students: Rugilė, Giedrė, Aistė, Benita, Milda, Rugilė and myself. We all worked together on the challenges of this year’s program, with a focus on water contamination and its use. It was interesting to see the daily routine at our academy from a different perspective, while trying to find achievable solutions on water sustainability. When attempting to find the root of problems within our labs, we engaged in a dialogue with chemists, toxic waste facility employees and the academy’s administration. We also discussed the accomplishments made in this field so far with our professors and amongst ourselves. To better understand the needs of our academic community, we conducted an online survey and learned that most members of the community are interested in sustainable ideas and solutions. This provided additional motivation for our team to strive for environmentally friendly solutions. By taking small steps, we progressed well, and we are now excited to see the extent to which we have been able to expand our personal knowledge on water contamination and overuse in a restoration lab. Since one of the goals of the program is not only to understand but also to raise awareness of the importance of these ideas, we presented all our findings to our department community. We also hung posters in working spaces to spread the knowledge and awareness to other students. I have found participating in the Student Ambassador Program to be a very useful experience.
I am a 3rd year student of wall painting restoration at Vilnius Academy of Arts. I joined SAP due to my interest in a previous program related to ecology and I wanted to acquire practical knowledge in this field. Our group consisted of students from different courses and was very friendly. We distributed the tasks that were part of this year’s SAP program between the members of our group, and I devoted the greatest amount of time to waste water treatment. I chose this topic because one of my family members works in the city water treatment administration and, at my request, they provided me with various brochures and books on environmental protection describing water treatment processes and requirements. I also did some internet research on this topic.
This research allowed us to gain a better understanding of the water treatment system in Lithuania and its complexity. We also found out what types of waste can be discharged via sewer system and what should not go down the drain. All of the collected information was uploaded to our shared online folder. The findings were presented not only to the community of the Restoration Department but also to the SAP groups of other universities. Besides collecting and sharing information, we also implemented some practical changes. For instance, the creation of informative posters which were posted in the restoration laboratories.
I had the opportunity to express my creativity by designing two posters (Figures 2&3). One of the posters depicted simplified functions of the wastewater treatment system, and the other raised awareness about not disposing of hazardous substances in the sewer system. By participating in this year’s SAP group, I acquired a great deal of practical knowledge, got to know the community of the Restoration Department better and contributed to improving our work environment. I look forward to continuing this project next year, too.
The SAP program has led to some small, yet very important changes for our academic community. As part of the program, I was challenged to perform an inspection of the taps and piping systems throughout our university buildings. The main focus was on the condition of the water taps in all the studios and restoration labs of the department in order to identify opportunities for ensuring more efficient use of water. We found out that there was one old tap that was no longer compatible with an aerator, and we successfully initiated its replacement with a new, more water-efficient one. We also prepared a proposal to our administration of aerators for other existing taps because we thought replacing them would result in less water consumption. With the existing tap aerators in mind, we contacted the person responsible for their maintenance and were assured that the proper care is being taken and taps are periodically cleaned of mineral deposits. By applying our knowledge of aerators at the academy, we have also become more aware of the tap fittings in our homes, and I can proudly say that I have also started using an aerator in my own domestic space. While delving into this task, I gained a considerable amount of useful knowledge about responsible water usage and efficiency. I now share my knowledge by advising people to inspect water taps on their properties.
While working with other students, I had a chance to delve into water testing and analysis. We performed water pH and conductivity parameter tests in a water testing laboratory. Our samples included distilled water from our lab, tap water, rain water, and snow water (Figure 6). Rain water was collected using a glass container which was left outside in the garden of the academy. Water from melting snow was collected using the same method. After obtaining favourable results*, we decided that it could be possible to use rainwater and snow water for watering indoor plants in the academy. However, only a tiny amount of biologically pure water was collected, despite the fact that our container was left outside for one week during a rainy season. We may look at other options in the future as to how we could collect and use precipitation water more efficiently.
Surprisingly, the comparison of the pH value of rain water and that of distilled water produced very similar results, with rain water being almost neutral pH. However, high electrical conductivity values indicates that rain water contains a rather high amount of dissolved chemical compounds. For this reason, rain water could hardly be used in restoration laboratories without prior purification. In conclusion, the SAP project provided us with a unique opportunity to contribute to the creation of a more sustainable environment in our academic community, and allowed us to get to know like-minded people from within the conservation field and beyond.
* Water specimen analysis shows that rain and snow water have pH close to neutral, and its electrical conductivity reflects a small amount of dissolved minerals. Tap water is shown to be much more alkaline and have greater conductivity.