students planting the pollinator garden at Grebel

Grebel's Green Projects

Message from the President | Goals | The Green Team | Donate | The Pollinator Garden

One of the hopeful lessons of the COVID-19 pandemic is that humanity can respond to an urgent global crisis.

A second hopeful lesson is that small individual actions can, collectively, have a positive impact on global problems. Action is not only for large actors like governments and corporations. Small organizations and individuals also make a difference. It’s easy to lose sight of this good news in the face of the many difficulties and hardships that the pandemic presented.

Here at Grebel, we want to apply these lessons to another pressing challenge—the global climate crisis. When our students think about the future, climate change is their single greatest concern. Grebel needs to respond in ways that generate hope and inspiration for our students.

Grebel has shown leadership on environmental issues for decadesoften prompted by our students. We are now obliged to act on a larger scale than we have in the past. The University of Waterloo has set a goal of reducing its greenhouse gas (GHG) 35% emissions by the year 2030. In response to this challenge from the University, we assembled a “Green Team” of faculty, staff, and students and conducted a third-party environmental audit. The audit showed that a 35% reduction is realistic, but requires at least three million dollars in capital improvements (and probably more).

Our list of projects ranges from major items like replacing windows and equipment to modest ideas like planting native plants for bees and other pollinators. For the coming year, our biggest priority is to replace the original heating and cooling system that services the academic wing. A new system with advanced efficiency features is modelled to reduce GHG emissions from that wing by over 50%, at a capital cost of almost $1,000,000. We will also install more EV chargers in our parking lot to encourage the use of electric vehicles.

Marcus Shantz

Making the shift to a more climate-friendly campus will be costly. We have established a Green Fund for capital expenses to reduce Grebel’s carbon footprint. I invite you to join other alumni and supporters in taking action by making a donation to Grebel’s Green Fund. These donations will be used for capital expenses, like the new HVAC system and EV Charging stations, and help support other projects that will change behaviours and transportation patterns. Your gift is fully receiptable as a charitable donation.

Thanks for your consideration and support to help us green our campus!


Marcus Shantz, President

Maya Morton Ninomiya

This is a critical time at which we get to decide how much we want to reduce the harm that is currently befalling our planet. As a student, I am surrounded by people who either are, or who have the ability to influence the next generation. Educating on climate change and instilling passion in students is an extremely potent and necessary opportunity that must be taken advantage of.

- Maya Morton Ninomiya
4th-year Health Studies

Ceileigh McAllister

Climate change is going to affect my future. Climate change is already affecting our lives and its effects will continue to become greater in scope and intensity. I am passionate about climate action because I would like a safe and livable future. I would like to see Grebel set reduction targets in line with the best available science before the end of the 2023 academic year.

- Ceileigh McAllister 3rd-Year Environment, Resources, and Sustainability

A group of grebel staff, students, and faculty stand beside a bike rack outfront of Grebel's brick wall, They represent the green team.

The Green Team

The Green Team includes students, staff and faculty and will meet regularly with Sustainable Waterloo Region advisors to form a plan for reducing Grebel’s carbon footprint. Further concerns the group will address include larger campus culture questions like: Why is climate change an important issue? Should we change what we eat? How much should we travel? Should we use air conditioning?

Grebel has officially joined Sustainable Waterloo Region’s Regional Sustainability Initiative. As a member, Grebel will share and learn best practices with other like-minded organizations. Members work to understand the impacts of their operations on environmental sustainability and aim to build a culture of sustainability among employees and engage employees as sustainability advocates while also adapting policy and reducing impact through realistic sustainability targets. 

You can read more about this initiative in the recent issue of Grebel Now

Show your support! 

If you are interested in supporting the Green Team please make a donation.

This can be by credit card at the UW donation page

or e-transfer to (note "Green fund" in the comment field) 

or mail a cheque with "Green Fund" in the memo field to:

Conrad Grebel University College
140 Westmount Road North
Waterloo, ON, Canada, N2L 3G6

Contact Fred W. Martin for more details. 

Goals and Achievements

  • The Grebel Green team received a “Rookie of the Year” award from Sustainability Waterloo Region, in recognition of Grebel’s efforts to reduce the College’s environmental footprint.
  • The team is meeting to examine different options for reducing carbon consumption and will recommend a reduction target. The goal will be achieved by a combination of new HVAC equipment, better windows in the residence building, and some ‘Scope 2’ initiatives that involve travel and other energy reduction behaviour changes.
  • A proposal for a new multi-zone unit to heat and cool the academic building could reduce GHG by over 50%. The team is also investigating adding more EV Charging stations to the parking lot. 

The Pollinator Garden

  • In the spring term of 2023, Grebel created a pollinator garden on the lawn outside the residence building, facing Westmount Rd. This project aligns with Grebel's green initiatives and provides a tangible example of the College's environmental stewardship values.
pollinator garden at Grebel