As the University of Waterloo continues to navigate unfolding COVID-19 situation, the Sustainability Office has moved all activities virtual to prioritize health and safety while continuing to support the campus community. For our campus community and partners:

Events: All events, workshops, and other in-person activities are cancelled. We have alerted all registered participants for events. For some workshops, (i.e. the Sustainability Certificate for employees), we are exploring options for virtual participation and will advise registrants directly as those decisions are made.

Contact: The physical office will be closed as staff are working remotely. Please call or email any of our team members to stay in touch - we are happy to connect.

In-person meetings: All in-person meetings with students or employees will be cancelled or made virtual. We will contact meeting participants with further details, but we are well set-up to connect!

TravelWise Services: GRT has suspended purchases of all new Corporate Passes. Current pass holders can continue to manage and renew their cards online. Please follow GRT alerts for service schedule and route changes and practice social distancing and proper hand washing as much as possible. TravelWise has also suspended carpool matching on until further notice. The Emergency Ride Home program remains active.

For all University of Waterloo information regarding COVID-19, please visit the University's information page.

Eco Summit builds hope for the future

Thursday, November 28, 2019

Article was originally published in Waterloo's Daily Bulletin.

Aerial view of Eco Summit event space Waterloo’s sixth annual Eco Summit took place on November 20, coinciding with the release of the 2019 Environmental Sustainability Report. The theme, Building Hope, was interwoven with the goals of the Summit to connect with others, celebrate our progress and be inspired to go further. The attendees and presenters included students, faculty, staff and community members. Sustainability was examined from both a strategic vantage point and through the local, grassroots actions that are shifting us towards a greener campus culture.

James Rush, Vice-President Academic and Provost, provided opening comments and spoke about the recently released 2020-2025 Strategic Plan, which includes strengthening sustainable and diverse communities as one of its three major themes. Afterwards, three case studies that are changing attitudes and making our campus more sustainable were presented by faculty, staff and students. James Nugent, a lecturer from the Faculty of Environment presented on the Diploma in Sustainability, which allows students to learn about sustainability no matter which program they’re in. Giovanna Zinken, Associate Director, Environmental Services discussed initiatives in place that will divert waste from landfill, such as multi-stream waste receptacles that make sorting easier. By 2025, the University is aiming to divert at least 60 per cent of campus waste from landfill. The Shift Zero initiative aims to make us a zero-waste campus by 2035, diverting 90 per cent of waste from landfill. Three students, Farah-El Shayeb, Joanna Gao, and Saad Arif Qadeer presented on the Green Residence Ambassador program, an initiative that allows student ambassadors to model green behavior and set the standard for their peers.

Green Office award winners with their certificatesAn anticipated part of the Summit for Waterloo staff is the Green Office Awards, which were introduced this year through a video presentation by President Feridun Hamdullahpur. The Green Office program empowers bottom-up action from departments on campus and awards sustainable achievements. Since its launch in 2016, 24 departments have been awarded either bronze, silver or gold for efforts to make their offices greener, and over 45 departments are actively participating in the program. Maggie Chang, a student in Environment, Resources & Sustainability and coordinator for the Sustainable Campus Initiative, was also awarded one of the first ten Living Planet Leader designations from WWF Canada. 

 Beth Eden, Easton Page, Nadine Ibrahim, Mary Jane PattersonFinally, a panel discussion moderated by Mat Thijssen, Sustainability Manager, wrapped up the Summit. Panel members included Beth Eden, a student in Environment & Business; Easton Page, WatPD staff with Green Office gold certification; Nadine Ibrahim, a lecturer in Civil & Environmental Engineering; and Mary Jane Patterson, Executive Director at Reep Green Solutions. Discussion topics included the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals, making a difference locally and internationally, and the rise of green cities.

The event ended with a vegetarian lunch and a call to action for those in attendance to take things further and model the sustainable world they would like to see.