Innovative Partnership

  • 6 Tips for Green Gift Giving

    Blog Contributor: Erica Harper

    Did you know that Canadians throw out 25% more garbage over the holidays than the rest of the year? The holiday season is extremely wasteful due to wrapping paper, tape, cards, foil and plastic that are all used for gift giving traditions. That being said, what if this time of year wasn’t synonymous with excess waste and extreme overconsumption? As an individual, there are a lot of strategies that you can employ to cut down on the unnecessary waste from gifts and its wrapping. This article will help you navigate the season without feeling overwhelmed by the environmental effects of gift giving.  

     Here are a few tips to reduce waste while still participating in your family’s and friends’ gift exchange traditions: 

    1. Buy local: This tip is often suggested because buying local immediately reduces the carbon footprint of your goods, and usually the products purchased come with significantly less packaging than what you can find at a retail store. Added bonus: purchasing local goods encourages small businesses (who naturally have lower carbon footprints than corporations) and stimulates the local economy.  
    2. Give the gift of an experience: Many people enjoy receiving an experience as a gift rather than a material object that takes up space and that they may never use. By purchasing an experience for someone such as tickets to a sports game, a relaxing getaway or a play, you are able to quickly reduce packaging waste (experience-type gifts are usually minimally wrapped, if wrapped at all). Additionally, you are avoiding purchasing a material product that will eventually make its way to a landfill.  
    3. Purchase reusable gift wrap: Thankfully, more and more people are considering the environment during this gift giving season and small companies have started selling festive cloth bags for wrapping purposes. These cloth bags are perfect for wrapping gifts or even baked goods! They can also serve as a gift themselves in addition to what you’ve added inside. Their designs resemble wrapping paper and they add a nice crafty feel to your presents.  
    4. Donate to a charity: Instead of purchasing a material gift, show your family and friends how thoughtful you are by donating to a charity that means a lot to them in their name. This kind of gift is very touching to those receiving it, and you’ll feel great knowing that you helped a charity in need this holiday season. It really is a win-win gift idea! 
    5. Get thrifty: Thrift stores are gaining popularity for many great reasons. First, they repurpose and resell clothing that would have otherwise been thrown out or creating clutter in someone’s closet. Second, their prices are usually quite affordable and if you’re lucky, you can even find designer brands! Thrift stores also sell home décor, small kitchen appliances, and accessories so it’s a perfect place to purchase some unique gifts without buying and creating demand for new items. 
    6. Give your time: So many of us lead busy lives and have trouble dedicating time to those who matter most. An easy way to lessen your waste this holiday season is to give someone the gift of quality time! Plan an exciting weekend with a loved one or make time for a friend so you can enjoy a nice home cooked meal together. These gestures go a long way and you have the ability to get creative with activity planning!  

    Hopefully these tips are helpful and inspire you to think outside the “giftbox” this year as we all strive to create less waste during this season of giving. Always remember to be patient with yourself. Small changes definitely make a big difference as you can lead by example and further inspire others to live more sustainable lives.  

    Source: https://www.theglobeandmail.com/news/national/canadians-to-toss-100000-elephants-worth-of-wrapping-paper-this-year-advocacy-group/article37448496/ 

    Categories: Blog, Innovative Partnership, SSAS Student Contributor, Sustainability at Brock

  • Niagara Adapts Officially Launches to the Public

    In June, members of Brock University’s Environmental Sustainability Research Centre partnered with seven Niagara municipalities to address how climate change is affecting the region. This partnership, formally known as Niagara Adapts, was officially launched to the public on November 27th, 2019.

    The launch event featured a screening of the film Resilience, followed by a panel discussion with climate coordinators from each of the seven municipalities involved in Niagara Adapts. The conversation continued during a reception event where members of the community were invited to speak with ESRC members, Resilience filmmaker John Anderson, and other members of the Niagara Adapts team.

    Categories: Event, Innovative Partnership, Niagara Adapts

  • Brock launches climate partnership with Niagara Municipalities

    A need to address climate change action in the Niagara region sparked an alliance between Brock University’s Environmental Sustainability Research Centre (ESRC) and seven regional municipalities.

    Niagara Adapts, which formally launched Nov. 27 at the Film House at the FirstOntario Performing Arts Centre, was formed to seek innovative strategies that address how climate change is impacting the region.

    The partnership, which was announced in June, will leverage resources and expertise from ESRC and the Town of Grimsby, Town of Lincoln, City of Niagara Falls, Town of Niagara-on-the-Lake, Town of Pelham, City of St. Catharines and City of Welland.

    “Many Canadian cities and regions don’t have formal climate change plans, which is surprising in 2019,” said Jessica Blythe, Assistant Professor, ESRC. “These seven municipalities are really stepping up and taking a leadership role.”

    The partnership has a mandate to support collaborative climate change adaptation assessment, planning and implementation.

    University President Gervan Fearon speaks with Professor Ryan Plummer and Assistant Professor Julia Baird.

    “One of the most critical priorities of our strategic plan is to support the vitality and health of our surrounding communities,” said University President Gervan Fearon. “Niagara Adapts is the perfect opportunity for us to work alongside our neighbours.”

    The launch included a free community screening of the film Resilience, followed by a discussion and reception with partnership representatives.

    The inspiration for Resilience, said filmmaker John T. Anderson, stems from a course curriculum from one of Blythe’s classes, which allowed him to “understand the full dimensions of climate change.”

    Screening his film was especially meaningful to Anderson, who, in addition to having worked as a marine scientist at Memorial University of Newfoundland and the Department of Fisheries and Oceans, is proud to call himself Blythe’s father.

    “We kind of pinch each other,” said Anderson of collaborating with his daughter. “We can’t believe it.”

    Blythe agreed, noting that they never thought their conversations about climate change would develop into a professional relationship.

    “It’s a dream to work with my dad,” she said. “I’ve also been very fortunate to work with the ESRC because of their prioritization of community partnerships, which lead to talking with municipalities and observing the similar challenges of climate change impact.”

    The motivation behind the partnership came from the realization that finding climate change solutions could be alleviated by sharing expertise and resources.

    “One of the challenging things about climate change is that it cuts across everything,” said Blythe. “It’s related to health, infrastructure, food production… everything we do has some sort of impact from climate change. The silver lining is that we can only tackle it collaboratively.”

    Acting Director and Associate Professor in ESRC Marilyne Jollineau says that successfully tackling climate change requires a community-based effort.

    “We need to draw upon the knowledge and expertise of everyone around the table,” she said. “This means talking to experts, scientists, social scientists, politicians, business owners and municipalities who are trying to address these issues. We should all think critically about the ways we can reduce our carbon footprint.”

    She also applauds Regional councillors, who voted to move to biweekly garbage collection starting in fall 2020 and encouraging residents to use organic and recycling bins when possible.

    Blythe hopes that the partnership, as well as the film Resilience, will empower Niagara residents to take action.

    “I want the community to feel proud and be aware of the leadership their municipalities are demonstrating,” said Blythe. “Niagara Adapts, as well as the film Resilience, are solution-oriented and meant to demonstrate the areas where people can take action to take on this challenge.”

    Story from The Brock News

    Categories: Collaborations, Event, Innovative Partnership, Niagara Adapts

  • Sustainable Development Goals Training Day: A Reflection

    Blog Contributor: Nolan Kelly

    On Saturday November 16th, Brock University hosted a Sustainable Development Goals Training Day on campus, after months of planning and countless hours of hard work. The event was made possible through a collaboration between Sustainability at Brock, a partnership between Facilities Management and the Environmental Sustainability Research Centre, and the Brock student Model United Nations Club. The focus of the event was to provide an introduction to the 17 SDGs and to highlight how we can address these goals at both the global and local level in our everyday lives. The event included an overview of the goals, a simulation to showcase the interconnectedness and implementation of the goals, and a workshop that aimed to put participants knowledge to use in addressing issues in the Niagara Region.  

    The event kicked off with an address from Brock President Gervan Fearon, where he discussed the importance of the SDGs, both globally and locally at Brock and in the Niagara region. Next, there was a presentation from Nour Hage and Kaileen Jackson, Secretary Generals of the Brock Model United Nations Club, in which they gave a complete overview of the 17 SDGs and explained the purpose and significance of the goals as well as how they all connect. Following this, the participants watched a UN SDG video that highlighted the urgency and importance of achieving the goals followed by a video created by Brock graduate student, Nico Gadea, which highlighted how specific regions were addressing the SDGs  

    After the introduction was complete the participants were split into two different groups. One group took part in the simulation workshop and the other took part in the action-based workshop, before switching after the lunch break. The Simulation Town workshop session offered a unique opportunity for participants to expand the limits of their creativity and build teamwork and collaboration skills in the process. The simulation took place in the fictional town of Brockville and encompassed several elements that parallel real life conflicts, each specifically relating to different sustainable development goals. The rationale for creating this project was to foster an interactive environment with a great deal of replayability that stimulated learning with critical skill development. The simulation aimed at making a game that was inclusive and allowed participants of all skill levels (from high school to post grad) to feel a sense of value and contribution. It took a team of six dedicated Brock student volunteers (Alex Albano, Christina Zugno, Rachel Housser, Noah Nickel, Nour Hage, and Nico Gadea) a total of just over 200 hours throughout the span of four months to complete the project. The simulation received an overwhelming amount of positive feedback from the participants and in the essence of sustainability, the simulation game along with a full set of instructions will be donated to the Centre for Pedagogical Innovation (CPI) at Brock. 

    The second workshop session was titled SDGs in Action. This workshop allowed the participants to put their knowledge to use by tackling current issues in the Niagara region. Far too often people believe issues such as poverty, public health, and education are only issues outside of Canada and that there is nothing they can do to help. However, this could not be further from reality as these issues (along with many others) are present and prevalent in Canada and more specifically in the Niagara Region. This workshop gave the participants a local perspective of these issues and showed how those in Niagara are directly affected. The goal was to show that these issues are prevalent all around us and that it takes collaboration along with multiple perspectives to work on solving these issues. After a brief slideshow highlighting the interconnectedness of the SDG’s the groups of participants were broken up into smaller groups and tasked with addressing specific local concerns at home, at work/school, and in the community. The workshop finished off with a poster presentation from the groups which highlighted their ideas. These discussions highlighted the importance of the SDG’s in our everyday lives and what steps can be taken to further advance the goals. This workshop session came to fruition through the hard work of Amanda Smits, Centre Administrator for the Environmental Sustainability Research Centre, Research Assistants Erica Harper and Nolan Kelly, along with assistance from the Brock Model UN Club. 

    After all the participants had completed the workshops, Dr. Ana Sanchez concluded the event with an overview of the SDGs where she reminded everyone why they should care and take action at both the global and local levels. She stressed the importance of the interconnectedness of the goals, as you cannot achieve one goal without also addressing the others. Dr. Sanchez used many real-world examples and spoke with passion as the event concluded.  

    The event was designed to educate and inspire those who attended so that they can further progress the SDGs and make a difference whether that be in their individual choices, in their community, or on a global scale. We believe this event achieved the overall goals and we could not be happier with the end result. Thank you to all the participants that came out as well as all of the organizers, guest speakers, and volunteers that made the event a resounding success! 

     

    Categories: Blog, Collaborations, Event, Innovative Partnership, Student Contributor, Sustainability at Brock

  • Niagara Adapts Launches Climate Change Surveys

    The Niagara Adapts team is excited to announce our community and municipal surveys on experiences with climate change have gone live!

    An important component of the Niagara Adapts climate change adaptation process involves collecting data on climate change vulnerability across different scales. Leveraging the expertise of Dr. Ryan Plummer and Dr. Jessica Blythe as well as others, and drawing from the extensive scholarly literature, a robust and comprehensive vulnerability assessment tool was developed. The tool will use a combination of primary and secondary data to collect information on community exposure to climate change, community sensitivity to climate change, and the capacity of the community to adapt.

    This assessment exists at different scales; specifically, the household scale (i.e. individuals living in the community) and the municipal scale (i.e. community wide impacts and experiences). Primary data will be collected through two surveys. The Niagara Adapts municipal partners will collect municipal scale information on things such as roads, dwelling units, flood plains, and municipal policies. The household survey is accessible to the general public, and after only a few weeks of being live, we are excited to announce that we have had excellent interest in participation. The public survey gives community members the opportunity to contribute to the climate change adaptation process, ensuring that planning reflects the context of each municipality. The Brock team looks forward to digging into the survey results and reporting back with findings in time.

    If you live in one of the municipalities participating in Niagara Adapts, we invite you to take the household survey!

    Categories: Innovative Partnership

  • Inaugural EESI Partnership Roundtable

    Blog Contributors: Bani Maini & Bridget McGlynn

    On October 23, 2019, individuals from the Niagara Parks Commission (NPC) and Brock University gathered at Legends on the Niagara Golf Course for an inaugural roundtable event. The roundtable is the first in a series of events made possible via the Excellence in Environmental Stewardship Initiative (EESI), a partnership between the NPC and Brock University. The meeting provided an orientation to EESI, allowed for the sharing of recently completed research findings, discussion the implications of the findings, and allowed for progress to be shared on projects associated with the partnership. Corey  Burant  from the NPC and Dr. Ryan Plummer from Brock co-chaired the event.  

    Angela Mallette, a recent Master of Sustainability graduate from Brock, presented her research on “Understanding Perceptions of the State of the Environment in Relation to Ecological Measures: Intergroup Differences and the influences of Environmental Interpretation”. Through ecological assessments, and visitor and expert surveys, Angela observed ecological health as well as perceptions of ecological health. Her research provides a holistic approach to environmental assessment which includes ecological measurements as well as social perspectives.  

    The discussion Angela’s presentation provoked stimulated not only more research questions but also suggestions for potential NPC initiatives to better achieve their stewardship goals. Her research has important ecological and cultural implications for the NPC and the sentiment resonated with everyone present at the meeting. One of the aims of the partnership is to mobilize evidence-based research and suggestions in order to help with the management of resources at the NPC. These findings not only help with immediate resolution of existing concerns, but also open avenues for other potential areas of research and collaboration.   

    After Angela’s presentation and a stimulating discussion on the outcomes and implications of her research, faculty and students from Brock shared updates on the ongoing projects which are a part of the partnership. Samantha Witkowski, a current Master of Sustainability student at Brock shared her ongoing research on monitoring and evaluation approaches. Brock University Assistant Professor Dr. Julia Baird presented the early findings of the her latest research, made possible through an Insight Development Grant, which aims at assessing four different methods for evaluating ecological outcomes of environmental stewardship. Dr. Baird and Post-Doctoral Fellow Dr. Sherman Farhad also shared updates on an ongoing social network analysis project which aims at understanding the modes and extent of environmental stewardship knowledge sharing networks at the NPC. Updates were also shared on Dr. Jessica Blythe’s project related to the public’s perception of the NPC.  

    The outcomes of completed and ongoing partnership projects provide insights and opportunities that influence future environmental stewardship goals and objectives. The roundtable was a true reflection of the commitment and the level of engagement that individuals from both the organizations bring to the table. The event perfectly captured the essence of the partnership and underscored the importance of current and future roundtables.  

    Categories: Blog, Conferences, Environmental Stewardship Initiative, Event, Innovative Partnership, SSAS Student Contributor

  • Niagara Adapts Holds First Three Workshops

    Earlier this summer, representatives from seven local municipalities in Niagara and members from Brock University’s Environmental Sustainability Research Centre (ESRC), met for the inaugural Niagara Adapts workshop at Brock University. The morning began with presentations from Dr. Ryan Plummer and Dr. Jessica Blythe on climate change in Niagara. Next, each municipality gave a presentation on some of the climate change impacts previously experienced in their community as well as some of the actions taken so far. This portion of the day was especially interesting and valuable. It became apparent just how much we can learn from our neighbours. Throughout the entire workshop, there was a recognition of the novelty of the partnership, as well as an appreciation for the fact that we are more effective when we work collaboratively. “Why reinvent the wheel?”, as put by one workshop attendee.

    The second Niagara Adapts workshop, titled “Climate change impacts analysis”, was held on Friday, August 16th. We were joined by Dr. Brad May, a Canadian expert in climate change adaptation and risk assessment. It was a jam-packed, but very informative day. In the morning, we explored key climate change concepts, climate models, and climate change trends and projections (from global to local). Using a new tool (climatedata.ca), we accessed climate scenarios and recorded some projections for 2050 and 2100. Some of the findings were shocking. For example, under one high emissions scenario, it is projected that by the end of the century there could be up to 123 days per year above 30C (City of St. Catharines). That is more than one third of the year, with extreme heat days! In the afternoon, we identified potential climate change impacts and ran through a preliminary risk assessment exercise. Having members from a range of backgrounds (from engineering to environmental services) was exceptionally valuable, and enriched the brainstorming process.

    Most recently, on Wednesday, September 18th, the ESRC hosted the third Niagara Adapts workshop, called “Climate change vulnerability assessment”.  The workshop began with a lecture by Dr. Ryan Plummer, which was designed to provide an overview of the concepts of climate change vulnerability. Dr. Plummer also provided an introduction to climate vulnerability assessments, including how they can be implemented, the data that can be obtained, and the importance of such assessments to informing climate change adaptation actions. Following the lecture, we conducted a working session on ranking vulnerability indicators. This type of participatory approach is important for creating a context-specific vulnerability assessment.

    The outputs from all three workshops are essential components to begin the climate change adaptation process, and we are excited at all that we have learned about climate change in Niagara in such a short amount of time!

    To learn more about this exciting initiative please join us on November 27, 2019 at the official launch of Niagara Adapts at the Performing Arts Centre in St. Catharines – tickets are FREE!

     

    Categories: Blog, Collaborations, Environmental Stewardship Initiative, Innovative Partnership

  • ESRC Researcher to Tackle Ecosystem Services Resilience and Sustainability in New Five-Year NSERC Strategic Network Project

    NSERC has recently announced $5.5 million in funding for NSERC ResNet: A network for monitoring, modeling, and managing Canada’s ecosystems services for sustainability and resilience, led by Dr. Elena Bennett (McGill). Dr. Julia Baird (CRC and Assistant Professor in the ESRC and DGTS) is a co-lead of one of three themes: ‘Mapping the decision-space for ecosystem services management’ and is one of 26 co-applicants from across Canada on the project. The funding will support a Post-doctoral Fellow at Brock University for four years and several Master of Sustainability students will engage in this pan-Canadian research project.

    NSERC ResNet “aims to transform Canada’s capacity to monitor, model, and manage its working landscapes and all the ecosystem services they provide for long-term well-being”. Ecosystem services are the benefits people derive from nature, such as food and timber, as well as the benefits that may be overlooked like carbon sequestration, flood regulation and aesthetic appreciation. These ecosystem services are not independent; rather, decisions that are targeted to one ecosystem service, such as food production, also have consequences for other ecosystem services, such as carbon sequestration. Accordingly, the decisions we make have far reaching implications for the ecosystem and human well-being and appropriate management is critical for resilience and sustainability.

    The project focuses on landscapes that are actively being used for resource production (such as agriculture, forestry, fisheries) that are abundant in Canada and so important to the well-being and prosperity of Canadians. The theme Dr. Baird is co-leading with Dr. Gordon Hickey (McGill) is focused on the management of the range of ecosystem services these landscapes provide to ensure their sustainability far into the future. They are using innovative research approaches that engage those in the study landscapes to tackle the question of management and dealing with the ‘messy’ nature of interrelationships and trade-offs among ecosystem services. Fortunately, they are drawing on a complement of accomplished collaborators from Brock (R. Plummer), U Waterloo (D. Armitage), McGill (B. Harvey), U Winnipeg (A. Diduck and R. Bullock) and the Stockholm Resilience Centre (Ö. Bodin) who bring a wealth and diversity of expertise to the project.

    An innovative element of NSERC ResNet is that the project model is transdisciplinary. It brings together academics, industry, non-governmental organization, Indigenous partners and government agencies in a co-design process. This is important since the project addresses a complex question embedded in diverse landscapes and social-ecological contexts. While each of the landscapes is unique, one of the goals of NSERC ResNet is to identify commonalities across them that will support the development of a decision support tool in the form of an ‘ecosystem services dashboard’ – a practical tool to incorporate an understanding of ecosystem services into management decision on working landscapes across Canada.

    Categories: Applied Research, Collaborations, Innovative Partnership

  • SSHRC IDG: Brock University Partners with Niagara Parks Commission to Compare Environmental Stewardship Evaluation Methods

    Student Contributor: Seyi Obasi

    It’s no longer news that human actions are seriously affecting the ecological health of our environment. Humans have become such a powerful force on the earth that our choices can make or mar the future health of most, if not all ecosystems on the earth. However, despite being a power broker on the earth, we still depend on it’s environment for our wellbeing. This too, is no longer news. Because of our realization that we need to take care of the earth in order to assure the continued existence of both, the concept of environmental stewardship was born!

    Environmental stewardship includes all the choices and actions people make to care for and protect the environment in order to continue to enjoy it and make it sustainable for future generations. Such choices and actions include everything from individual actions like recycling, to community and organizational efforts to conserve and restore the environment. The number of environmental stewardship initiatives has been growing steadily, with several organizations, communities, groups and residents committing and engaging in stewardship initiatives and practices ranging from habitat restoration to reforestation projects and even to river restoration initiatives. The list is endless.

    But the important question is, are those stewardship initiatives working? Are they meeting the objectives for which they were implemented? Are there any changes that need to be made? These questions are hard to answer because although the number of environmental stewardship initiatives is growing, there are a range of reasons why it may not be possible to carefully and effectively evaluate the outcomes of these efforts after they have been implemented, especially using traditional expertise evaluation methods (e.g., access to financial or human resources).

    Evaluation is key in environmental stewardship, as it is the only way to know if the initiatives are working or not! In a bid to explore solutions to this issue, faculty from Brock ESRC in partnership with Niagara Parks received a SSHRC IDG award to investigate how alternative methods for evaluation such as using citizen scientists, stakeholders and remote sensing, compare with expert evaluation.

    The aim of the project is to compare field data evaluations about both the ecological health and the presence of two at-risk bird species (Bobolink and Eastern Meadowlark) at the Chippawa bird habitat grassland site and the Lilac garden site, two recent Niagara Parks stewardship initiatives in the Niagara Region. The evaluations from the expert, citizen scientists, stakeholders and remote sensing will be compared based on accuracy, cost, expertise requirement, and ease of data collection. It promises to be an exciting project.

    The data collection phase of the project was divided into four parts: First, the expert did his field evaluations, followed closely by the citizen scientists and then stakeholders consecutively. The final remote sensing component will be undertaken in the next few weeks. The project characterized stakeholders as people who use the sites or may have a vested interest in the sites (i.e., bird watchers, nature club members, etc.) but were not given further training specific to the project, whereas citizen scientists received resources and training specific to the sites/initiatives we are investigating.

    Data collection for the citizen scientists and stakeholder volunteers happened on two different days in the first week of July, just after the expert data collection. The project’s call for data collection volunteers received remarkable responses from residents of Niagara and members of different nature groups in Niagara. They showed such amazing enthusiasm to be involved, which was surprising given that they were expected to gather at the Niagara Parks office at 6am for data collection – yes, 6 AM! In addition to the volunteers for being ready bright and early, the researchers would also like to extend their gratitude to the Niagara Parks and their staff for their amazing support in recruiting volunteers, site preparation and support in other wonderful ways.

    On the collection day, both the citizen scientists and stakeholder volunteers were introduced to the project, expectations were clarified and questions answered at the Niagara Parks office. The citizen scientists received training and detailed manuals that had pictures of the vegetation and birds they were likely to find on both sites. And as the project team silently hoped that it would not rain, volunteers were excitedly driven to the sites to start data collection.

    The entire data collection process on both days was fun, engaging, exciting, educative and successful. At the Chippawa site, volunteers assessed the presence of the two at-risk bird species (as well as other bird species), while both vegetation and bird species were assessed at the Lilac garden site. Volunteers superbly engaged as they watched and listened to identify birds, and used sight and touch to identify the vegetation. They were deliberate and focused; they came with instruments and tools ranging from binoculars, powerful cameras and bird apps. There were even a few volunteers referring to hard copy vegetation and bird books! Added to that, friendships were struck and phone numbers were exchanged. It was so exciting and refreshing to see!

    And then there were ticks… or not. While the team came tick-prepared with protective suits and bug spray, there was hardly any tick drama, leading the whole team to breathe massive sighs of relief! 

    In addition to the satisfaction of contributing to an amazing project, one lucky volunteer from each group went home with a $500 gift card to Bass Pro Shops in a raffle draw done on the bus ride back from the research sites – another highlight of the day! All in all, it was a very successful, fun-filled two days of data collection. Now comes the fun part – analyzing the data!

    As environmental stewardship initiatives become increasingly important in Canada and worldwide, it is also important to explore a variety of methods to evaluate the success of these initiatives. The findings from this project will help decision-makers and stewards make informed decisions about appropriate, economical, and accurate methods for doing research.

     

    Categories: Blog, Environmental Stewardship Initiative, Innovative Partnership

  • Marilyn I. Walker – A Sustainable Gem in Downtown St. Catharines

    Blog Contributor: Connor Thompson

    Marilyne I Walker Building

    The Marilyn I. Walker School of Fine and Performing Arts(MIWSFPA) is an absolutely gorgeous building full of natural light and art, located off Brock’s main campus, in the downtown core of St. Catharines. Having been renovated from the Canada Hair Cloth Company building in 2015, its construction offered Brock University the ability to do what it does best – research! Facilities Management took the opportunity after renovations to install a piece of software called the Earthright Energy Dashboard. Earthright monitors water, gas, and electricity trends and charts them on a public-facing dashboard for all to see.

    Earthright serves two purposes, the first of which is to inform students, staff, and visitors about utility consumption rates at Marilyn I. Walker. There are a couple of screens that display statistics in relatable and interesting terms, like how many swimming pools worth of water have been saved from one month to the next. By showing people how utilities are consumed over time, it may influence them to change their habits as a group and see what impact they can make!

    The second function is to provide feedback to staff on how the building is operating. Facilities Management has been able to tailor automated systems around occupancy and seasonality requirements, which ensure that utilities are only used as they are actually needed. For example the lights are generally shut off at 11:00 pm and turned back on around 6:00 am, but there are also offices on motion sensor systems, and photocells are used to ensure that lights automatically dim as sunlight becomes available.

    The Earthright Energy Dashboard is a simple way to inform the public about how consumption habits impact the spaces where they learn and work. Newer buildings like MIWSFPA are sustainable by design, but we as occupants have the final say on how much water, gas, and electricity gets used. The next time you are walking along St. Paul Street, stop in and check out part of what Brock is doing to carry out its commitment to stewardship and environmental sustainability!

    Categories: Blog, Experiential Education, Innovative Partnership, SSAS Student Contributor, Sustainability at Brock