Overview | Categories | Funding | Applications | Projects | Details
The Sustainability Action Fund (SAF) supports projects and initiatives that improve sustainability at the University of Waterloo. Project funds are distributed based on a call for applications, with successful applications determined by the President’s Advisory Committee on Environmental Sustainability (PACES).
Applications are now closed. We anticipate that the next round of applications will be in Spring 2021.
Projects should support at least one of the following focus areas as they relate to campus sustainability:
- Curriculum development
- Sustainability in entrepreneurship
- Knowledge mobilization
- Climate change
- Waste management*
- Student engagement
- Employee engagement
- Community engagement
- Policy and governance
Applicants may request between $2,000 to $20,000 in funding per project. Project funds must be spent by April 2021.
Projects with ongoing costs CAN resubmit proposals during future calls for applications, although these will be evaluated against other applications and previous project successes.
Applicants must complete the Sustainability Action Fund Application Form and upload by 11:59pm on the deadline date. Application instructions:
- Download and complete all sections of the Application Form
- Sign into the SAF upload page with the above link using your WatIAM username and password
- Upload the Application Form and any additional supporting documentation. If you have multiple files, save them and upload as a single PDF file or Zipped folder.
Late applications will not be considered until future funding proposals.
Prior to submitting projects to PACES for consideration, the Sustainability Office may follow up with applicants by email or by phone to clarify and gain more details about any items included in the application.
These are not in any way a confirmation or rejection of funding, but an opportunity to explain ambiguities to enable PACES to make the best possible project selection decisions. Any information discussed over the phone or email will be added as supplemental information when sent to PACES.
Secure Bike Cage - This project aims to develop a bike cage with secure access near the motorcycle parking beside EV3 and ML. The cage will hold approximately 48 bikes. SAF funding will build momentum for project development. Led by students from the Faculty of Environment (Fall 2017).
Campus Energy Audit - This project has engaged an external energy services firm to complete a comprehensive audit of all University of Waterloo facilities. As part of the Shift: Neutral climate action plan, this builds a more complete understanding of energy distribution across the campus and is compiling a list of renovation and operational projects to reduce energy consumption and greenhouse gas emissions (Fall 2019).
Library Waste Receptacles 2 - This project continues the deployment of standardized waste receptacles across the Dana Porter Library, and will complete the retrofit of the new bins (Fall 2020).
Fleet Telematics Pilot - This project will pilot the installation of telematics devices and software in a subset of campus fleet vehicles. These will help identify opportunities for driver behaviour changes to improve fleet efficiency and reduce fuel consumption, highlight opportunity and business cases for conversion to electric vehicles, and assist with general fleet management (Fall 2020).
Mapping Campus Grounds - This Living Lab project will engage students in an exercise to develop a baseline of plant species in major ecosystems across the University of Waterloo's grounds. This will feed into the development of Waterloo's landscaping standard and biodiversity assessment, and become an open access inventory and database which can be imbedded into coursework and research over time (Fall 2020).
Sustainable Cooking in Residences Workshop - This project will support a series of student-led workshop aimed at building sustainable cooking skills throughout Winter 2021. These will be targetted to students living in residences and focus on peer-peer knowledge sharing on making healthy, sustainable meal choices (Fall 2020).
WUSA Secondhand Store - This project will support the purchase and installation for a washing machine and dryer as part of the launch of a secondhand clothing store by WUSA. The store will expand on the ad-hoc successful clothing sales and provide a permanent space in the SLC for used clothing to reduce waste and provide access to affordable clothing options (Fall 2020).
SDG Impact Challenge - This project will support a hackathon based on the UN Sustainable Development Goals. As a student-led project, it will engage peers across campus in efforts to education on the SDGs and provide partnerships and opportunities to critically engage with SDG related challenges (Fall 2020).
PPE Zero Waste Program - This project will aim to divert significant amounts of personal protective equipment generated by University of Waterloo clinics. Recognizing the impact of COVID-19 in generating significantly more disposable masks and gloves in clinical settings across campus, a program will be established with TerraCycle to properly recycle these materials and divert them from landfill (Fall 2020).
Water Bottle Refill Stations - This project launched a new water bottle refill station in the Columbia Icefield gym to encourage reusable water bottle use and provide feedback by tracking usage. The SAF covered the station and installation costs. Led by Sustainable Campus Initiative (Fall 2017, completed Winter 2018)
E-Waste Collection Stations - This project launched three new collection stations to make it easier for employees and students to properly recycle their electronic waste. The SAF covered the purchase of the new stations, which are serviced by Waterloo's Central Stores team. Led by Sustainable Campus Initiative (Fall 2017, Completed Winter 2018)
Waste Station Expansion - This project supported the launch of standardized waste receptacles at Food Service locations across campus as the foundation for user-friendly, attractive, and well-designed waste stations across campus. The program also facilitated public organics collection in key areas. SAF funding supported a portion of implementation costs. Led by Plant Operations - Custodial Services (Fall 2017, Completed Spring 2018).
Sustainability Guide - This project ensured all incoming students had the opportunity to receive information about sustainability as part of their orientation kits. All first-year students received postcards linking to the online Sustainability Guide, which lists programs, services, and tips to support sustainable living. Led by the Sustainability Office (Spring 2018, Completed Fall 2018)
SCI Day - This student-led conference engaged more than 100 students from across campus on a series of sustainable living workshops and presentations, encouraging involvement on campus and in their personal lives. The conference had a theme around career pathways in sustainability, and featured speakers from local non-profits, entreprentuers, government agencies, research institutes, and the Indigenous Student Association. Led by Sustainable Campus Initiative (Fall 2018, Completed Winter 2019)
SDG Youth Training - This student-led conference engaged students from across campus on the role that youth can and do play in achievement of the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). With partnerships on-campus and in the community, attendees participate in a day-long series of panels and workshops to encourage action and provide skills and resources to enable change to accellerate the global SDGs. Information about the conference is available on the conference website, as well as the video summary. Led by student volunteers, and supported by the Sustainability Office (Fall 2018, Completed Winter 2019).
Campus Waste Sorting Improvement - This Living Lab project worked with student researchers to complete applied research to identify the most efficient combination of messaging and signage to encourage proper waste sorting. The project piloted signage and various normative messages at several waste sorting stations and completed before/after waste audits to determine recycling behaviours and contamination. The signage designs and findings will be standardized across campus. Led by faculty and students within SEED (Fall 2018, completed Winter 2019).
Library Waste Receptacles - This project supported expansion of Waterloo's new universal waste standard into Library locations in Davis Centre and Dana Porter. As a major traffic area for students, the libraries offer a strong opportunity to support waste reduction efforts. The SAF will support project costs. Led by the Library (Spring 2018, completed Winter 2019).
Engineering Waste Receptacles - This project supports expansion of standardized recycling infrastructure to hallways and common spaces throughout Engineering 5, 6, and 7. Partial funding is provided from the Sustainability Action Fund, with Engineering providing funding support as well. Led by Faculty of Engineering (Fall 2018, Completed Spring 2019).
Arts/ENV Gardens Signage - This project educated users on the unique naturalized and native species features of the Arts-Environment Gardens in between PAS, HH, and EV1. The gardens feature native and non-invasive species across seven themed plots, and the new signage creates interactive information to inform users of the space about sustainable landscaping practices. Led by Faculty of Arts, Ecology Lab (Spring 2018).
Lobby Waste Receptacles - This project expanded the standardized waste infrastructure to hallways and lobbies across campus. As part of an ongoing update to the waste stations, the standardized bins ensure proper sorting and waste separation. Led by Custodial Services (Fall 2018).
Waste Management Promotional Campaign - This project supported efforts to educate users on proper waste sorting on campus. It included a mix of promotional signage, posters, video production, events, and other activities to improve recycling and composting, while reducing contamination. Led by Custodial Services (Fall 2018).
Biology Growth Chamber Retrofit - This project improved the teaching environment while substantially reducing energy consumption within 2 of the growth chambers used by the Department of Biology. Major retrofits to LED lighting and a building-integrated cooling system reduced the energy consumption and chemicals needed to operate the facilities, and was used as a demonstration project for students completing their studies. Led by Faculty of Science (Fall 2018).
Palm Oil Project - This student-led documentary was filmed in Indonesia to educate on the health and environmental impacts of palm oil production, and efforts underway to produce palm oil more sustainably. A virtual screening took place at the University of Waterloo after completion in Fall 2020. Led by student filmmakers (Fall 2018).
Any University of Waterloo student, staff, or faculty member can submit a project proposal.
All successful applicants will be required to submit a project completion report to PACES at the culmination of the project, detailing the project outcomes, including successes, challenges, and how funds were spent.
Based on the information received during the applications, the President’s Advisory Committee on Environmental Sustainability will utilize the following criteria to determine which projects will receive funding. Please note that projects do not need to meet all criteria to receive funding, but projects that meet a broad variety of criteria are more likely to be successful.
Feasibility & Logistics
- Does the project support effort in the focus areas listed above?
- To what degree does the project have the potential to reduce environmental impact, directly or indirectly?
- Is the project technically feasible in the identified timelines?
- Is the project scalable and/or replicable?
- Does the funding request reasonably match the project outcomes?
- Does the project have the potential to reduce operational costs or create efficiencies?
- Does the project have clear ownership and a long-term maintenance or business plan?
- How will the project generate positive social impact on campus or in the community (i.e. procuring equipment from responsible vendors, or improvements on campus such as physical and mental wellbeing, inclusivity, and diversity)?
- Have alternative options been identified that would generate similar impact?
- How many members of the campus community will the project engage?
- Will the project encourage more sustainable behaviours on campus?
- Will the project increase awareness of campus sustainability issues?
- Will the project increase the University’s reputation or demonstrate community leadership?
- Will information and statistics about the project be available to enable future evaluation, study, and research?
- As of Fall 2020, projects requesting funding for standardized waste receptacles will be required to demonstrate matching departmental funding. Plant Operations continues to implement roll-out of the standardized receptacles, and while departments are able to accellerate deployment in their spaces, PACES has indicated that this should be on a shared resources basis given the volume of funding requests.
Eligible expenses can include:
- Staffing costs (i.e. co-op students, part-time staff, etc.)
- Capital expenses (i.e. renovations, equipment, site improvements)
- General supplies (i.e. workshop materials, paper)
- Marketing (i.e. printing, advertising)
- Incentives (i.e. prizes, giveaways)
- Information technology (i.e. computers, software)
- Event expenses (i.e. food, venue rental, audio-visual, speaker gifts)
- Travel (i.e. airfare, accommodation, mileage, food)
Ineligible expenses include:
- Ongoing operational costs (i.e. staffing/wages for a pre-existing position)
- Hospitality for project staff and volunteers (i.e. food, drink, gifts other than for event expenses)
- Any project costs that would normally be covered by other University of Waterloo departmental budgets
- Consulting fees
Please note that all expenses must comply with existing University of Waterloo policies and procedures, available on the websites of the Secretariat of the University and/or Finance. In particular:
- Policy 17 – Quotations and Tenders
- Policy 22 – Regulations Governing the Installation of Equipment in University Buildings
- Policy 31 – Travel
- Policy 53 – Environmental Sustainability
- Guideline re: Eligible Hospitality Expenses
- Guideline re: Travel Expenses
- Procedures re: University Contracts
Distribution of funds
Successful applicants will receive notice from the President’s Advisory Committee on Environmental Sustainability regarding approved funding for the project, as well as any considerations or exclusions for funding at the Committee’s discretion.
To submit project expenses:
- Whenever possible, please send all invoices for approved project expenses to the Sustainability Office.
- For any approved expenses paid personally, please retain all original itemized receipts from registered businesses.
- For faculty and staff: Contact Sustainability Office for instructions on processing through Concur
- For students: Contact the Sustainability Office to complete an in-person expense claim.
- For any approved compensation expenses, please have the department leading the project submit appropriate forms to the Sustainability Office to add account information on appropriate hiring or reimbursement forms.
- For any internal payments between University of Waterloo departments (i.e. ordering from Catering Services), please retain proof of expenses and submit them to the Sustainability Office alongside a memo requesting the transfer of funds.
- For any expenses not covered by the above cases, please contact the Sustainability Office to discuss before making payments.
The President’s Advisory Committee on Environmental Sustainability will not reimburse costs above those outlined in the application. However, the Committee recognizes that projects can sometimes incur unexpected costs. If there are substantial changes in the project, please contact the Sustainability Office to discuss the reason for the changes prior to incurring additional expenses.
Applicants are responsible for any and all approvals from relevant University departments required for project implementation.