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Community highlights

Two recycling bins filled with papers and bottles.An innovative community

The Region of Waterloo has a growing reputation as the innovation hub of the north, and that is not just for the high-tech sector.  Sustainability is imbedded in the local community.  Highlights include:

  • The City of Kitchener launched the world’s first blue box recycling program in 1981.
  • Waterloo was Ontario’s first regional government to include environmentally sensitive areas in its official plan.
  • University of Waterloo was the first university in Canada to adopt “Greening the campus”, the philosophy that universities should reflect the world students seek to create.
  • Kitchener was the second city in Canada to adopt a Pedestrian Charter that outlines its commitment to an urban environment that encourages walking.
  • In 2013 City Councils of Cambridge, Kitchener, and Waterloo, as well as Regional Council, unanimously endorsed a Community Climate Action Plan and a 6% emissions reduction target.

UWaterloo participation

The University of Waterloo is proud to participate in the following community programs and initiatives:


ClimateAction Logo

Waterloo students from the Faculty of Environment helped design the feasibility study that led into our local Climate Action Plan.  As new actions and initiatives emerge under the plan, University of Waterloo professors, staff, and students are continuing their engagement.

Energize: Sustainable City Challenge

Energize Sustainable City ChallengeThis challenge is a tool for high school students to explore topics such as climate change, energy and Waterloo's transition towards a low-carbon future. These students will have the chance to improve their energy literacy, understand the complexity of climate change and decision-making for climate targets, and gain skills and resources to become local sustainability champions. They will also have the opportunity to compete against one another during a pitch competition in front of local experts!

Regional Sustainability Initiative

Regional Sustainability Initiative logo.

Waterloo is an observing organization of the RSI, formerly known as the Regional Carbon Initiative (RCI). Run by Sustainable Waterloo Region, the RSI is a member-based program that helps organizations in the Waterloo Region assess their environmental impact and set carbon, waste and water targets. The University joined the RSI in 2012 and is one of over 60 local organizations participating.


TravelWise logo

University of Waterloo is an observing member of TravelWise, a partnership between the Region of Waterloo and Sustainable Waterloo Region.  This program provides services to help employees walk, cycle, carpool, and take transit to work, and best practices for employers.  Waterloo joined TravelWise in 2012 and is one of approximately 28 local organizations participating.

Community resources

If you are looking for ways to get involved in sustainability at home, work, or in the community, be sure to check out the following organizations:

Sustainable Waterloo Region (SWR) helps organizations convert sustainability interest into action.  SWR offers services, resources, and access to a growing network of like-minded companies through several programs, including the Regional Carbon Initiative and TravelWise. 

REEP Green Solutions works with homeowners and workplaces on energy and water sustainability.  Residents can benefit through evaluations from Certified Energy Advisors, leading to power and emissions savings, and organizations can participate in the RAIN stormwater management system.

Community CarShare provides members with access to a fleet of vehicles throughout Kitchener, Waterloo, and southwestern Ontario without the hassle of owning a car!  The non-profit carsharing cooperative offers individual and corporate memberships to empower sustainable transportation choices, reduce transportation costs, and mitigate traffic congestion and air pollution.

Community Renewable Energy Waterloo (CREW) is a local non-profit organization dedicated to making renewable energy accessible to the citizens of Waterloo Region.

ClimateActionWR is a collaboration between local non-profits, the Region of Waterloo, all three cities, and local utility companies to implement Waterloo Region's Climate Action Plan.  

Rare Charitable Research Reserve is an organization dedicated to protecting and maintaining a 900-acre area in the heart of Waterloo Region.  This natural space is filled with wildlife and holds major opportunities for research, learning, and recreation for local residents.

The Centre for International Governance Innovation (CIGI), based in Waterloo, provides solutions to some of the world’s most pressing governance challenges, building ideas for global change by studying, advising and educating scholars, practitioners and governments.  Their sustainability publications website includes publicly available research on sustainability issues.