Research groups

Students restoring Laurel Creek


We're building a more sustainable future through innovative research.

Waterloo supports many research institutes and centres, with collaboration and interdisciplinary innovation happening across all six faculties. With more than 350 faculty conducting research to advance the UN Sustainable Development Goals, Waterloo continues to lead in sustainability research.

Research institutes and groups with a sustainability focus include:

Water Institute

Formed in 2009, the Water Institute coordinates diverse groups of researchers exploring water science, technology, and policy. More than 125 members from all faculties contribute research to issues ranging from aquatic ecology to atmospheric sciences, water governance to toxicology.

Waterloo Climate Institute

Founded in 2008, the Waterloo Climate Institute (formerly Interdisciplinary Centre on Climate Change) links researchers from across the University of Waterloo to advance understanding of the physical science behind climate change, its natural and human impacts, and approaches to mitigate its effects and adapt to change.

Waterloo Institute for Complexity and Innovation

Launched in 2010, the Waterloo Institute for Complexity and Innovation fosters interdisciplinary research on many sustainability-related issues that require complex systems thinking and collaboration.  They apply complex systems analysis and approaches to compounding problems at the intersection of society, health, and the environment.

Waterloo Institute for Nanotechnology

WIN explores science and engineering at the atomic scale, that is the design, fabrication and exploitation of materials and structures where dimensions are measured in billionths of a meter (10-9 m). By taking advantage of the unique phenomena which predominate at the atomic scale, scientists and engineers at WIN are making fundamental breakthroughs, discoveries and innovations that will have both local and global impact for all Canadians. 

Waterloo Institute for Sustainable Aeronautics

The Waterloo Institute for Sustainable Aeronautics (WISA) is the world’s leading hub for sustainable aviation and aerospace research, technology, and education. WISA fosters interdisciplinary inquiry, cross-sector partnerships, and experiential learning that builds a sustainable future.

Waterloo Institute for Sustainable Energy

Founded in 2008, the Waterloo Institute for Sustainable Energy brings together over 100 researchers from across campus, all exploring technological and policy innovations that will enable a shift to clean energy.

Centre for Pavement and Transportation Technology

Founded in 2005, the Centre for Pavement and Transportation Technology is a partnership between universities, the public sector, and the private sector to find new technologies to manage Canada's infrastructure.  These include approaches to lengthen the lifespan of infrastructure and re-use of materials in pavement.

Heritage Resources Centre

Established in 1980, the Heritage Resources Centre improves the understanding of natural and human heritage.  The centre expands knowledge of heritage planning, encourages collaboration between relevant stakeholders, and provides consultation for many groups.

Waterloo Centre for Automotive Research

Founded in 2004, the Waterloo Centre for Automotive Research (WatCAR) researches new advancements in hybrid and electric vehicles, vehicle light-weighting, and vehicle automation systems. WatCAR is currently constructing a $10m "Dream Facility" for research that will develop the green cars of the future.

Waterloo Institute for Social Innovation and Resilience

The Waterloo Institute for Social Innovation and Resilience supports collaborative research projects across faculties and universities that generates new knowledge about social innovation, including the dynamics of learning, adaptation, and resilience.