Students tackle the housing issue in a collaborative initiative

Tuesday, September 12, 2023

Nine students from around the world recently participated in Waterloo Engineering's first Sustainability and Social Entrepreneurship (SSEF) program. 

The program presented the students with a challenge centred on the complex issue of housing. More specifically, how to build 47,000 homes in a way that is sustainable and kind.  

The urgent need for new housing in Ontario will drive the construction of neighbourhoods, not just individual homes. Building new neighbourhoods without considering sustainable living design can create problems that affect the health and wellbeing of communities.  

With that as their lens, the student teams focused on three urban development issues that are often overlooked during initial construction: transportation, climate and green space. Guided by an action-packed itinerary that helped the students bond quickly and learn fast, their projects delivered well-researched, data enriched and thoughtfully developed proposals with real-world applicability.  

Design solutions included innovative approaches for expanding the use of active transit, a novel use of heat island data modelling to improve natural climate control and a comprehensive zoning by-law that includes a Green Roofs Policy for commercial to residential property conversions.  

The SSEF was developed in partnership by Chris Rennick, the engineering educational developer at the Pearl Sullivan Engineering IDEAs Clinic and Nadine Ibrahim, Turkstra Chair in Urban Engineering from the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering.

Rennick believes that programs like the SSEF are important because engineering skills alone are not enough to solve the “wicked problems facing society.” 

Go to Working together to solve problems for the full story.