Residence Renewal Campaign

Windows To The Future

Grebel’s residence is one of the most recognizable buildings on the University of Waterloo campus, thanks to its distinctive saw-toothed roofline and iconic windows. Those enormous windows flood residence rooms with natural light, and have offered our students wonderful views of the world for sixty years.  

Anyone who has lived at Grebel knows that our windows are not only famous–they’re infamous. These windows cause ‘solar gain’ that drastically amplifies summer heat waves. And in winter, cold air flowing through uninsulated frames and double-paned glass can cause the curtains to freeze to the condensation. 

The windows and frames are original from 1963, and no longer meet expectations for comfort or energy efficiency. A recent third-party review of Grebel’s buildings recommended replacing residence windows as a high priority.  

Windows to the future square logo
Marcus Shantz

Dear Grebelite,

I wonder if you remember what it felt like to enter Grebel for the first time. The energy of new friends, the weight of new textbooks, the familiar aroma of popcorn, the sound of music in the stairwell and practice rooms, and the view from the big, bright residence windows.

For 60 years, Conrad Grebel University College has been home to a warm and welcoming student community. You are an important part of this history.

We're beginning our seventh decade with a campaign to renew Grebel's aging residence – replacing windows, heating systems, and washrooms. The windows are a focal point: Alumni know that Grebel windows are not only famous – they’re infamous. With solar gain in the summer and frozen curtains in the winter, these uninsulated windows drive up our energy usage and operating costs. We can't install efficient new heating and cooling systems without also improving the windows.

Addressing climate change is a priority for both administrators and students at Grebel. Our goal is to reduce campus greenhouse gas emissions 35% by the year 2030. New windows, coupled with new heating and cooling equipment, will also make the residence more comfortable and appealing to students – especially during the summer term. These improvements will be expensive.

We invite you to join with other alumni to make a difference for our current and future students. An alumni group is spearheading the “Windows to the Future” fundraising campaign to renew our residence facilities.

We are looking for a broad base of support from alumni to illustrate our Grebel spirit! A tax-deductible donation of any size for the Windows to the Future campaign will help us raise $10,000 per window.

Would you join our alumni community in making a gift for our students and the environment?

We are part of an extraordinary alumni community! I look forward to hearing from you so that many more generations of students can benefit from the Grebel experience.


Marcus Shantz (BA '95)

President, Conrad Grebel University College

A Plan For Our Students

New windows are the largest item in a package of improvements that we propose for Grebel’s residence. We will also install heat pumps to provide air conditioning and supplementary heating, and upgrade our residence washrooms–which have not been substantially renovated since 1963.

Taken together, these projects advance the following goals at Grebel:

maya morton

Maya Morton Ninomiya
4th Year Health Studies

“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.” 

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Modern triple-pane windows, combined with air conditioning and improved climate controls will greatly improve student comfort during the hottest and coldest times of the year. New single-use washrooms will meet current expectations for privacy and comfort, and will also enable more flexibility in operating the residence.

Our engineers expect that window replacement alone will reduce space heating energy consumption by up to 44 percent every year. Using heat pumps to supplement existing natural gas boilers will further drive down our greenhouse gas emissions. Grebel’s goal is to reduce its greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions 35% by the year 2030.

The lack of air conditioning in our residence impacts our occupancy levels from May through August. In addition, the existing shared washrooms are a barrier for conference groups and other short-term guests. We expect to improve summer occupancy and revenues by making these improvements. 

Good building managers anticipate issues and make regular investments to resolve them before serious problems arise. Grebel has worked to renew its facilities over the past several years, and the residence is the next space we need to address. Making these improvements now will ensure that future generations can experience the transformative impact of life as students at Grebel.

What We Need To Raise

We estimate at least $3,500,000 needs to be raised to complete all of the projects.

Current conditions make it difficult to estimate construction costs, and we are still developing the scope of the project.

This $3,500,000 must be raised from private donors. Grebel does not receive capital funding from governments. Moreover, the entire Ontario university sector, including Grebel, is currently challenged by a multi-year freeze on operating revenues. This means that there is no operating surplus from which capital projects could be financed.

At our 60th anniversary Gala on October 11 we announced that we have raised $1.77M in the “quiet phase” of a capital campaign.  As of March 15 we have raised over $2.2 m!

Would you consider making a lead gift to this critical campaign?  

Marcus Shantz, President 
Fred W. Martin, Director of Advancement

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A photo of Kirk Schmidt

Kirk Schmidt
BMATH 2004
Advisory Committee Member

"The Grebel residence program grounded an exceptional education in a community of shared values from across the campus. I want students to continue to have that experience, in a climate that allows them to prosper. This project creates that climate in the building, and allows Grebel to respond to the climate crisis."

Caleb Gingrich Regehr

Caleb Gingrich Regehr
BASC 2012
Advisory Committee Member

"The Grebel residence program grounded an exceptional education in a community of shared values from across the campus. I want students to continue to have that experience, in a climate that allows them to prosper. This project creates that climate in the building, and allows Grebel to respond to the climate crisis."

Anita Tiessen

Anita Tiessen
BA 1981
Advisory Committee Member

“Grebel stands out at the University of Waterloo for both the residence component and for academic offerings. The main part of the residence building is 60 years old. Any building that age is starting to need major improvements. In order to continue to attract students to the residence program, the facilities need to be upgraded. While infrastructure isn't the most exciting thing to talk about, it is vital to Grebel's ability to continue to attract students. It is also an opportunity to make the facilities more "green" - an initiative that the Board strongly supports. As a Grebel alum and current board member, I am happy to support this capital project to update the residence and move Grebel toward more "green" operations.”

Leanne and Dave stand close to each other for a photo

Leanne (BES 2001) and Dave (BA 2001) Lobe
Advisory Committee Members

"Grebel was such an important place for us. The relationships we made were foundational and continue to nurture us to this day. The sense of family and community were vital in helping us succeed and thrive moving forward. We are excited to be able to give back in small ways to ensure that the same experience is accessible to others."

A photo of Jim

Jim Tiessen
BASC 1987
Advisory Committee Member

"I lived at Grebel for eight semesters while completing my engineering degree. The Grebel residence program provided me with more than just a place to sleep and eat but a home and a community to help me navigate the rigours of a demanding university program. The Grebel residence experience helped me transition from living with my parents to becoming a productive member of society. I am supporting the residence upgrades to ensure future generations of residents have a secure and comfortable place to call home as they grow into productive members of society at UW."

Alumni Window campaign

Make a direct contribution to Grebel's greenhouse gas reduction goals by pledging to replace a set of room windows. A gift of $10,000 will help to cover the cost of replacing a residence window, perhaps in the very room you lived in.  You may want to consider splitting the cost of replacing a window with your past roommate. Pledges can be made over 5 years. 

$10,000 will replace windows in one residence room

With 70 rooms to choose from, help us reach our goal of $700,000 to replace the 1963 windows.

Donation tracker

A geometric representation of the Grebel Residence building.