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).Overview
Applications are now open for Winter 2023. Deadline for project submission is Wednesday, February 15th, at 5:00pm.
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 $30,000 in funding per project.
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 5:00pm 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.
Status of Sustainability Infosheets - This project will support development of a series of fact sheets and background materials about ways in which sustainability topics and issues are connected to Civil and Environmental Engingeering. It will identify best practices on how these are being built into curriculum and to inspire both instructor sand students to integrate in learning opportunities (Fall 2022)
Reusable Containers Marketing - This project will expand marketing and communication in promotion of the existing Eco-Container and Eco-Mug programs, in collaboratin with Housing and Food Services. These programs are well established but not utilized to their full potential, and this will increase understanding and uptake of the existing services (Fall 2022).
Electric Landscaping Equipment Pilot - This project will support the purchase of new electric hedge trimmers and line trimmers for use in campus operations, reducing emissions, noise, and other air pollutants. Learning from the pilot will inform future purchasing decisions for Plant Operations (Fall 2022)
Disposable Legacies - This project will support development of an art installation to highlight waste generation and reduction opportuntiies on campus, as well as facilitate a connection and networking opporunity with food system stakeholders from a waste persepctive (Fall 2022)
3Cycle - This project will support an ongoing project with equipment for collecting, grinding, and re-filamenting scrap from 3D printers across campus, which is a growing source of waste (Fall 2022)
RAC Hydration Station - This project will support the installation of a water bottle refill station in RAC to support waste reduction for employees on North Campus (Fall 2022)
Campus Housing Waste Diversion - This project will build off historical efforts to encourage waste diversion in move-out and move-in programming, pulling together supplies, small appliances, dishware, and other household items during move-out that can be given away for free to incoming students (Spring 2022)
4Repair UW - Building off historical pilots of repair cafes, this project will restart efforts to offer repair services for personal items across campus. SAF funding will support tools and materials to host repair services and education events throughout 2022/23. (Winter 2022).
Salt Brining Pilot Project - This project will pilot the installation of a new brining tank and dispersal system to reduce the amount of salt applied across campus. Led by Grounds Services, the project will install the equipment for vehicles as well as a station to create the brine, and will allow for more even distribution of a de-icing solution that uses less salt overall. (Fall 2021)
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).
North Campus Garden Supports - This project supported the replacement of a shed and additional tools for community gardens that are located on North Campus near the Columbia Lake greenhouse. The gardens support a wide range of student, employee, and broader community gardeners to grow food on campus. (Spring 2022)
BSIA Community Garden - This project supported the design and instalation of a food garden plot at the Balsillie School of International Affairs in Uptown Waterloo. The garden gives students and members of the BSIA community access to land where they can grow fresh produce and reconnect with nature. (Winter 2022)
Sustainability Literacy Conference - This project supported a student-led and focused conference in Fall 2022 on how to imbed Sustainability Literacy throughout the curriculum, in order to support all students in being prepared for and contributing toward a sustainable future. (Winter 2022).
Assessing Biodiversity and Ecosystem Health - Building off the Eco-Maps project, this Living Lab project engaged students and other stakeholders in conducting species inventory to better understand, centralize, and communicate Waterloo's natural diversity and areas in need of further support. This is the second phase of a long-term and ongoing monitoring project. (Fall 2021)
SDG Impact Challenge 2022 - Led by the Impact Alliance, this hackathon engaged youth in designing solutions to real, meaningful challenges related to the UN Sustainable Development Goals. Building off a successful project in 2021, the hackathon explored different sustainability challenges and gave over 70 participants an opportunity to learn more about the SDGs and connect with others who are passionate about solving social, economic, and environmental problems. (Fall 2021)
Biology Growth Chamber - This project supported more efficient LED lighting integrated into the design and fit-out of a new growth chamber in biology. The walk-in chamber supports student learning and research, and the lighting will significantly reduce power consumption. (Spring 2021)
WUSA Secondhand Store - This project supported the purchase and installation for a washing machine and dryer as part of the launch of a secondhand clothing store by WUSA. The store expanded on the ad-hoc successful clothing sales and provides a permanent space in the SLC for used clothing to reduce waste and provide access to affordable clothing options (Fall 2020).
PPE Zero Waste Program - This project diverted 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 was established 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).
Campus Energy Audit - This project 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 built a more complete understanding of energy distribution across the campus and compiled a list of renovation and operational projects to reduce energy consumption and greenhouse gas emissions (Fall 2019).
Library Waste Receptacles 2 - This project continued the deployment of standardized waste receptacles across the Dana Porter Library, and completed the retrofit of the new bins (Fall 2020).
Sustainable Cooking in Residences Workshop - This project supported a series of student-led workshops aimed at building sustainable cooking skills throughout Winter 2021. These targeted students living in residences and focused on peer-peer knowledge sharing on making healthy, sustainable meal choices (Fall 2020).
SDG Impact Challenge - This project supported a hackathon based on the UN Sustainable Development Goals. As a student-led project, it engaged peers across campus in efforts to education on the SDGs and provided partnerships and opportunities to critically engage with SDG related challenges (Fall 2020).
Secure Bike Cage - This project developed a bike cage with secure access near the motorcycle parking beside EV3 and ML. The cage holds over 50 bikes and was launched in Fall 2021. SAF funding built momentum for project development. Led by students from the Faculty of Environment (Fall 2017).
Stewardship UW: Campus EcoMap - This Living Lab project engaged 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 became an open access inventory and database which can be imbedded into coursework and research over time. The first phase was completed in Spring term 2021. (Fall 2020).
All the details
Eligible Applicants: Any University of Waterloo student, staff, or faculty member can submit a project proposal.
Project reports: 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.