News

  • Leo LeBlanc Rowing Centre LED Lighting Upgrade

    Blog Contributors: Ryan Stewart, Energy Manager, Maintenance and Utilities Services & Nolan Kelly 

    Brock University’s commitment to become more environmentally sustainable and energy efficient continues with the most recent LED lighting upgrade in the Leo LeBlanc Rowing Center. The Leo LeBlanc Rowing Center is a high-performance rowing training facility that is home to Brock University’s rowing teams. The center allows the teams to combine conventional work out equipment with an eight-person tank to train as if they were out on the open water. The previous lighting fixtures in the center were energy intensive and caused operational issues for the occupants, as it would take up to 10 minutes to ramp up to full output. These lighting fixtures have since been replaced for a type of LED light that is brighter and that operates at a greatly reduced power requirement, which makes it more efficient. This LED lighting fixture also offers an instantaneous start-up to full output (no more 10 min wait for the fixtures to come up to full output) which makes the center more much accessible to the rowers. Within this new lighting fixture there also exists dimming capabilities and an increased rated life of 50,000 hours. The project was completed in December of 2019 and cost $6,772.20. The project qualified for an incentive from the Local Distribution Company of $1,680.00 and with an annual Energy Savings Projects Project Profile electrical savings of 23,695 kWh (equating to $4,620.50) the projects simple payback is just over 1 year. The project also results in a carbon savings of 16.75 eton CO2/per year, which is equivalent to taking approximately 6 cars off the roads 

     

    Project Details:  

    Project Cost: $6,772.20  

    Incentives/Grants: $1,680  

    Simple Payback: 1.07 years  

    Energy Savings: 23,695 kWh ($4,620.50)  

    CO2 Reduction: 16.75 eton  

    Project Completion: December 2019 

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

  • Life in the Thesis Stream of the Sustainability Science and Society program at Brock

    Blog Contributor: Meredith DeCock

    I always assumed I would return to the academic world to pursue a master’s degree. But I resisted this urge for years as it felt like something I should do, not necessarily something I felt a passion to do. If I was going to do a master’s, I wanted it be for a specific purpose and mean something. That is when I found sustainability science.

    I chose Brock, not only because it seemed to be the best sustainability science program in Canada, but I was really interested in a lot of the research being conducted at the Environmental Sustainability Research Centre (ESRC). I reached out to my now supervisor, Dr. Liette Vasseur, as her work on ecosystem-based adaptation and ecosystem governance interested me. She was just starting a three-year long project with a neighbouring community that will help them co-generate adaptation strategies to combat the impacts of climate change. I was sold. I packed up my essentials and drove across the country to start the program in the fall of 2018.

    Being in either the thesis or MRP stream, your first semester is largely focused on just trying to figure out what grad school is all about. You are in a new school, and in my case, a new province, while trying to balance the seemingly never-ending work loads of classes and trying to understand your area of research.

    The second semester in the thesis stream you have a slightly lighter course load compared to your MRP peers; however, I found second semester busier than the first. I took on an extra course, held a research assistantship position with the ESRC, and took on a few other professional development opportunities that Brock offers such as presenting at the Brock Mapping New Knowledges (MNK) Conference, completing a certificate in Teaching and Learning in Higher Education, and submitting an article to a journal for peer-review. But to ensure I did not fall behind, I considered my research proposal its own class. I did not let a week go by without working on my research proposal. It is easy to let your research slide to the backburner in the first two terms of the program; however, if you schedule time into your week dedicated to your thesis, you will be successful.

    I am thankful that I am working with a supervisor on a specific project as I wanted to complete a master’s knowing that my research project is feeding into something larger. However, I know that is not the case for everyone. There is no right way to go about it, but it is great to know that there are options and that you will feel supported by the ESRC regardless of which route you choose.

    Categories: Blog, SSAS Program, SSAS Student Contributor, Sustainability at Brock

  • Life in the Master of Sustainability Program – Second Semester 2019

    Blog Contributor: Connor Thompson

    The second semester seemed to pick up right where the program left off in December. I think the cohort expected to ease into the winter term, but our hopes were immediately dashed thanks to a few quick deadlines. Such is life in grad school!

    Both of this semester’s courses were taught by Dr. Jessica Blythe. Jessica absolutely loves working in academia and that passion comes through clearly in her lectures. If you have the opportunity to take any of her courses I highly recommend it, her excitement is infectious and she makes coming to class an enjoyable experience every week.

    SSAS 5P03 – Problem Solving in the Environment

    This is the program’s project management course. Our class was kept as a single project team, tasked with creating a sustainable tourism framework for the Town of Lincoln through our Living Lab agreement. You can expect a few bumps along the way, but a strong group dynamic can overcome just about anything 5P03 throws at you.

    SSAS 5P04 – Transdisciplinary Seminar

    If this course sounds familiar it is because I wrote about it last semester too, 5P04 runs in both the fall and winter. The seminar brought researchers and professionals in to speak with us from across disciplines, which was incredibly useful in bridging sustainability research, policy, and practice. These events are open to the public and you can see past seminars here.

    SSAS 5P12 – Climate Change Adaptation & Transformation

    This course was steadily demanding throughout the semester, largely because we were required to read two articles and submit a 500 word critical response each week. We also created climate data projection reports for Walker Industries Inc. and many of their worksites across Canada, then we each read a book on climate change adaptation, wrote a review, and were given the option to submit it for hopeful publication in an academic journal. The weekly deadlines ensured that we had all completed and were able to speak to the readings with a high level of understanding, which lead to some fascinating conversations on how we communicate about climate change as sustainability scientists.

    The Co-op Job Search

    There is no formal course requirement for co-op students in the second semester, as the focus becomes putting those skills to work and securing a job. The co-op hunt is difficult so my only recommendation is to be prepared to search as soon as you start back at Brock in January. Expect to write a lot of cover letters, send many introductory emails, and spend an unreasonable amount of time on job boards. Look at it as preparation for life after the program!

    For more information about the Master of Sustainability program here at Brock, please visit: https://brocku.ca/esrc/ssas/

    Categories: Blog, SSAS Program, SSAS Student Contributor, Sustainability at Brock

  • 20 Sustainable Resolutions for 2020 

    Blog Contributor: Erica Harper

    2019 was the “Year of Sustainability” with the rise in environmental activism, Fridays For Future and various climate strikes in over 200 countries and 7 continents (1). More than ever, students are demanding to have their voices heard to ensure that local and world leaders treat the climate crisis like the emergency it is. Without a doubt, the younger generation will continue to advocate for more environmentally sustainable business practices, products and policies. Now, whether you have started your sustainability journey or not, there are endless changes you can make in your own life to demand a more sustainable world. Even small changes have the ability to create a domino effect and inspire others to make the same modifications in their lives to be more sustainable. Without a doubt, the new decade will continue to put sustainability at the forefront of policy at the local, provincial, national and world levels.  

    It’s important to note that sustainability can look different from person to person, and that there are a wide variety of changes you can make that will help you fit sustainability into your life. A new year (and decade) often come with resolutions that relate to goals, targets and ambitions that motivate us to be better people for ourselves, for others and for the planet. If you’re looking for ideas on how you can incorporate sustainability into your list of resolutions, here are 20 sustainable resolutions we’ve put together for 2020:  

    Food: 

    1. Try incorporating more meatless Mondays 
    2. Eat local/in-season foods by grocery shopping at farmers’ markets 
    3. Bring reusable bags and produce bags when grocery shopping 
    4. Try a new dairy-free milk 
    5. Purchase products in bulk, especially pantry items 

     Clothing: 

    1. Try not to buy any non-necessary new clothing items 
    2. Shop at thrift stores more often 
    3. Shop from ethical and local clothing companies 
    4. Learn how to sew to be able to repair your clothing when needed 
    5. When possible, repair and repurpose what you have instead of buying new clothing 

     Transportation: 

    1. Take the bus instead of driving yourself to school 
    2. Walk to local grocery stores, markets and restaurants instead of driving  
    3. Try biking to nearby establishments more often  
    4. Carpool with your friends and colleagues to school or work  
    5. Carbon offset your travel (learn more here) 

     Get Involved:  

    1. Ask your favourite brands questions about how they source and manufacture their products. Demand more sustainable alternatives when applicable. 
    2. Volunteer with a local environmental organization to help create change in your community 
    3. Join a sustainability/environmental club at school or at work to ensure that leaders within the university or organization are prioritizing sustainability. Create one if there isn’t one in place already! 
    4. Educate friends and family through sharing social media posts about climate change and the impact humans have on the environment  
    5. Donate to your favourite charity that supports environmental and sustainable initiatives 

    There you have it, 20 sustainable resolutions for 2020! Feel free to take these ideas as inspiration for what you hope to accomplish in the new decade to make our world a more sustainable place for future generations. Remember that small changes have the potential to make a big impact on the people and world around you. Whether you’re looking to make big or small sustainable changes to your current lifestyle, make sure to take it one step at a time and be patient with yourself! 

     To learn more about how you can lead a more sustainable lifestyle, check out these helpful resources below: 

    1) ZipCar’s 7 Ways to be More Sustainable 

    2) The Lazy Person’s Guide to Saving the World

    3) Green Eco Tips to More Sustainable Living

    4) 10 Simple Ways to Live More Sustainably, Starting Today

    5) 100+ Simple Tips to Live a More Sustainable Lifestyle

    Source: 

    (1): https://www.corporateknights.com/magazines/2019-education-and-youth-issue-3/youth-rising-meet-2019s-30-under-30-in-sustainability-15731064/ 

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

  • Coffee Cup Waste and Recycling Locations

    Blog Contributor: Nolan Kelly

    As the cold weather hits and exam season is in full swing, consumption of hot beverages on campus increases. With everything else going on during this time of the year it can be easy to forget about where all these cups are ending up. Last month, the Brock News posted an article that highlighted Brock’s most recent waste audit results from this year. The results revealed that coffee cups are Brock’s top recycling offender as only 2.1% are properly recycled on campus annually. This results in 97.9% of the cups ending up in landfills, which equates to 41.8 metric tons of waste! Brock University is committed to tackling this issue and coming up with solutions for how to reduce this number and improve awareness on campus.  

    While Brock has plans to address this issue, it is up to students to take part and make a difference when it comes to reducing their waste footprint and consuming sustainably. There are many simple steps that students can take such as bringing a reusable mug to campus. Every coffee serving location on campus offers a discount for those who do bring their own mug. General Brock customers who bring a reusable cup of any size pay just $1.25! This discount makes it the cheapest coffee on campus and also encourages sustainability. For those living in residence, dining halls have a punch card each time a student uses their reusable mug. In addition to the discount for every eight drinks they purchase with a reusable container, the ninth is free, which is extended to fountain pop, infused water and hot beverages like coffee and tea. If the cost savings and sustainability reasons are not enough to convince you to buy a reusable mug, there are also other benefits such as keeping your drink warmer, longer, and better protecting yourself from spills. 

    For those that do not have a reusable mug, there is still something you can do to reduce waste on campus! The coffee cups on campus are not recyclable, but they are compostable. This is why it is important to place cups in the designated recycling stations wherever coffee is sold on campus. There are 7 coffee cup recycling locations on campus, they are located in: Pond Inlet (2 bins), upper hall in South Block, Lower Welch Hall in South Block, Welch Hall in front of General Brock, near all three Tim Hortons locations, near the Library close to Starbucks, and at the Student Center near the Starbucks. By choosing to properly dispose of these cups it can make a significant difference in the amount of waste created by coffee cups each year! 

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

  • Brock-Lincoln Living Lab Year-in-Review

    BL-LL Year-in-Review 2019

    Photo (left to right): Meredith DeCock, Mike Kirkopoulos, Liette Vasseur, Mayor Sandra Easton, Marilyne Jollineau, Jessica Blythe

    On Thursday, December 12th the Environmental Sustainability Research Centre welcomed both Mayor Sandra Easton and CAO of the Town of Lincoln, Mike Kirkopoulos, to Brock to provide them with a summary of the work done through the Brock-Lincoln Living Lab (BL-LL) partnership in 2019 – including opportunities for Brock students and knowledge mobilization activities!

    Developing an Operational Plan (OP) for the work of the Brock Lincoln Living Lab (BL-LL) was an important priority this year. The purpose of the OP is to provide actionable items that allow the Town to move forward in an integrated way toward the goal of becoming a sustainable community. The plan includes specific actionable items constructed over the next four years for five priority projects, as identified by the Town’s Senior Management Team. Three additional projects led by ESRC researchers are also being included under this OP.

    Brock University students have also had the chance to learn more about the BL-LL through experiential education opportunities including Master of Sustainability student projects in SSAS 5P03 (Problem Solving in the Environment) and a field trip to the Town of Lincoln for the SSAS 5P01 (Foundations of Sustainability Science and Society) student cohort in November 2019. In terms of knowledge mobilization, those involved in leading the BL-LL have been busy throughout the year presenting at various conferences, Brock Board meetings and courses at the university.

    The 2019 year was very productive for the BL-LL team, led by Dr. Marilyne Jollineau, and all are looking forward to another exciting year in 2020!

    Categories: Blog, Brock Lincoln Living Lab, Conferences, Experiential Education, 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

  • Brock partnering with Niagara municipalities to find climate solutions

    A new alliance between seven Niagara region municipalities and Brock University’s Environmental Sustainability Research Centre (ESRC) is being created to aggressively seek innovative strategies that address how climate change is impacting the region.

    The impacts that inflict a growing toll on communities are typically tied to increasingly volatile weather, such as rising average temperatures; summer droughts followed by heavy rains; and the increasing frequency and intensity of frost-free days and freeze-thaw cycles.

    The partnership, aptly named Niagara Adapts, 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. The goal of the partnership is to support collaborative climate change adaptation assessment, planning and implementation.

    Climate change adaptation planning enables communities to understand their vulnerabilities and manage the impacts, risks and opportunities posed by a changing climate. The Niagara Adapts partnership will cultivate a community of practice for climate change adaptation planning and build climate resilience in the region into the future.

    The official launch will take place at 7 p.m. on Wednesday, Nov. 27 at the Film House at the FirstOntario Performing Arts Centre. The launch will include a free community screening of the film Resilience, which highlights local stories of climate change action. Jessica Blythe, Assistant Professor, ESRC, will host a post-screening discussion and reception with representatives from the Niagara Adapts partnership.

    A limited number of free digital tickets are now available for anyone interested in attending.

    Several members of the ESRC authored an article that appeared today in The Conversation about ways cities can prepare for climate emergencies.

    Story From The Brock News