Sunday, January 20, 2008

From Rhetoric to Action

Reporting live from the Prairie Sustainable Campus Conference attended and organized by students from Manitoba, Saskatchewan and Alberta.

What are prairie universities doing?

University of Alberta

Michael Rawson Clark wants “to transform the University of Alberta into a participatory member of a sustainable society through the creation of bio-economics, clean technology, clean energy, and sustainable economics.” He reported that the U of A has improved steam, water and electrical use significantly but that has been offset by a 37% increase in the density of buildings because of increasing enrollments. Projects he was involved in included replanting lawns with prairie grasses, green roofs, green investing and purchasing FSC recycled printing paper as part of the sustainable purchasing initiative. Below is an image of Michael taken by Jennifer Bonnycastle during his report.

University of Saskatchewan

Students at the University of Saskatchewan reported on several initiatives including

Footprint Design –students in engineering promote sustainability through workshops, concerts and projects such as Chris McKay's wind turbine that will provide enough electricity to power a house and the car that runs on used vegetable oil from restaurants.

Ecobash is an annual music festival supported by local musicians that raises funds for projects such as the wind turbine and the Prairie Sustainable Campus Conference.

The Students Union provides worm composting, curbside recycling, the green career fair, and a sustainability policy that provides a model for the university administration.

LEED building policy – All new UofS construction must meet LEED standards. The new Law building is an example.

University of Regina

Billy Patterson who describes himself as a part time student, full time activist reported on the Enviroment Action Network, Transdisciplinary Enviromental Studies degree, Public Interest Research Group (professor/student research), and Green Investing.

University of Winnipeg

The highlight of the University of Winnipeg’s initiatives is the Sustainable University Now Sustainable Earth Together (SUNSET) project which received funding to hire a staff person to involve more students in sustainability research and link course materials with community resources.

The University has a campus sustainability policy adopted by the Board of Regents. Some of the projects students have been involved in include:

Bike to the Future – bike-riding advocacy
Campus Recycling
Student Experience in local organizations.

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