Blog Contributor: Elenore Breslow
There is a long list of reasons why summer 2020 was unlike any other. The pandemic surely impacted everyone’s lives in different ways and like many of you, I spent my summer working remotely at my home ‘office’ instead of working in-person.
Even with the widespread shift to mainly remote work this summer, I still had an incredible opportunity to work as a Sustainability Coordinator co-op student from my home over 4 hours away from St. Catharines. And yes, my work-from-home setup on most days did include the traditional attire of a dress shirt, sweatpants, and no shoes. Enough about my wardrobe though…
The Sustainability Coordinator position was made available through the Brock University Charter Agreement with Facilities Management and the Environmental Sustainability Research Centre. Through the Charter Agreement I worked for two exceedingly knowledgeable supervisors – Mary Quintana, Director, Asset Management & Utilities for Facilities Management and Amanda Smits, Centre Administrator for the Environmental Sustainability Research Centre.
The pandemic may have impacted where I completed my work this summer, but the actual work I did would have been the same regardless of location. And I was fortunate enough to visit the campus at the end of the co-op term to meet everyone (in-person) on the Brock team that I worked with throughout the summer – check out my video below from my visit, ‘Day in the Life as a Sustainability Coordinator’.
The overall goal of the summer was to increase our knowledge of sustainability at Brock and determine baseline numbers in areas such as, GHG emissions, water use, and waste. Our team wanted to determine where does Brock do well in terms of sustainability and where are areas of improvement. To do this, we began by working on the completion of Brock’s first Sustainability, Tracking, Assessment & Rating System (STARS). This was a comprehensive process that involved coordination with several different internal and external stakeholders to collect data and information regarding the 4 main categories of STARS – academics, engagement, operations, and planning & administration. The key aspect about STARS is that it is a holistic approach to measuring sustainability on campus, and then decision makers can use that information to generate new ideas in terms of strategic planning and engaging the community. Making real progress towards sustainability can be a difficult task but starting by measuring all sustainability performance on campus is a great place to start.
Throughout the summer I also had the opportunity to help with many other sustainability related projects including being involved more on the operations and project management side of things. I helped with projects that examined ways to adapt current infrastructure to be more sustainable and I learned about how sustainability is incorporated into current operational practices, including the District Energy System. As many of you know, Brock recently celebrated the completion of Brock’s District Energy Efficiency Project (DEEP). It is through innovative projects like DEEP that Brock continues to demonstrate its commitment to environmental sustainability, with the hopes of continuing to be leaders amongst universities in reducing carbon emissions.
I am excited to continue my journey with the Brock team until 2021 and I am eager to part of the new initiatives and projects that are beginning this fall. Keep a lookout on Sustainability at Brock’s social media accounts (@BUsustainable) to stay up to date with all things sustainability here at Brock!