Articles by author: Amanda Smits

  • Brock’s Schmon Tower to be illuminated in colour

    A new nighttime look is on its way for Brock’s signature building.

    Since its construction in 1968, the Schmon Tower has been a key component of the University’s landscape and is visible on a clear day from miles around.

    But with the help of a new LED lighting system, the 13-storey landmark will soon be just as eye-catching at night.

    On Canada Day, Sunday, July 1, the University will flip the switch on the new system, which will cast colourful lights down all four sides of the building.

    “People might remember the Tower’s original white ribbon lights, which were decommissioned almost 10 years ago,” said Scott Johnstone, Associate Vice-President, Facilities Management. “They used a lot of energy and were literally falling apart. They had reached their end of life.”

    When the lights went out, Brock heard from community members who wanted to see them return.

    “We heard a lot from people, especially boaters and marine folk who liked to see the Tower from out in Lake Ontario,” Johnstone said. “People in general seem to like looking at the escarpment and seeing the Tower lights.”

    Residential-style floodlights were installed as a temporary fix while staff worked to find a more suitable and affordable option.

    Recent years brought a drop in the price of energy efficient lighting, which has allowed the University to now purchase a Philips Color Kinetics high-performance system. The new technology offers a full rainbow of colour options and light show possibilities.

    Beginning with a red and white light display for Canada Day, the Tower will be lit up in the evenings with colours changed for holidays and special occasions throughout the year.

    “It’s great that we’re able to do different things for special days, but at the end of the day we’re still saving a considerable amount of energy from the original lights, using almost 10 times less energy,” Johnstone said.

    The new lighting system adds to the dozens of energy saving projects, both large and small, that are underway across campus, he said.

    “They all count towards lowering the University’s carbon footprint and increasing our energy efficiency.”

    Story originally published in The Brock News


    Categories: Sustainability at Brock

  • Fair Trade Campus!

    Blog Contributor: Kaitlin James

    Did you know that Brock University is a Fair-Trade Campus? Brock became Canada’s sixth Fair Trade Campus in 2013 and is the second university in Ontario to be designated by Fairtrade Canada after Guelph.

    In fact, in 2015 Brock was named Fair Trade Campus of the Year.

    So, what is fair trade? Fair trade aims to create a relationship between producers and consumers that is mutually beneficial. It uses support from consumers to influence and drive business towards increased social and environmental sustainability.

    Dining Services at Brock is dedicated to building these relationships by providing fair trade products such as coffee, tea, dairy milk chocolate and Camino products in campus stores and vending machines. They also integrate sustainability into their daily operations by supporting local businesses; providing cage free eggs, buying locally, using recyclable and biodegradable packaging and provide biodegradable take-out containers.

    Every year starting at the end of May until the end of summer, Brock holds a weekly farmers’ market in Jubilee Court every Thursday. This provides students and staff with access to produce, farmers and bakeries, while supporting local vendors and economy.

    As you can see Brock provides various fair-trade products across campus!

    To find out more, check out the Brock website in the link below!

    https://brocku.ca/sustainability/initiatives/fair-trade/

  • Waste Not, Worry Not—Brock’s Got it Covered

    Blog Contributor: Shelby McFadden

    Battery Recycling

    Sitting in the basement of Mackenzie Chown’s G-Block, I scribbled like crazy, trying to document all of the current initiatives and associated numbers for waste collection here on campus. Sitting next to me was Kevin Lawr, supervisor of the day-to-day operations of the Central Shipping/Receiving, Maintenance Stores, and Mail Services departments.

    Though initially confusing to find the office tucked away in the belly of Mackenzie Chown, the meeting was extremely interesting and enlightening, and I ended up walking away with a hopeful feeling.

    The fact is that there are already a lot of great opportunities for recycling and diverting waste on campus, managed by a skilled team of staff and faculty who are enthusiastic about sustainability at Brock.

    But there is still a lot of room to increase our usage of these programs, and it begins by becoming aware of existing opportunities, and spreading the word on to our friends, roommates, and fellow Badgers.

    Batteries, ink cartridges, cell phones, and other electronics are all collected and recycled at Brock, helping to reduce waste and keep dangerous toxins out of our landfill.

    In 2017, Brock recycled approximately 4800 pounds of used batteries! Many departments already have pails, but if you are looking to order a pail for your department, make sure to contact Kevin at klawr@brocku.ca

    Students can also participate by accessing a pail in the nearest department or the North and South Service desks in Decew and the Lowenberger lobby.

    Another opportunity for recycling is with ink cartridges, of which an estimated 500 pounds were recycled last year.

    Faculty and staff can place their cartridges in a box labelled “used cartridge,” and send it to Central Shipping and Receiving through interoffice mail. Students can make use of the pail on the help desk in Computer Commons or in the Campus Store.

    No discussion on recycling programs would be complete without addressing electronics, as they play an increasingly large role in our lives.

    An overwhelming number of items are accepted, from cell phones, tablets, laptops, computer cables and monitors, routers, cameras, speakers, gaming consoles, fans, power tools, etc. Make sure to check Sustainability at Brock’s website to view the list of all accepted items.

    Departments can fill out the following form to send to klawr@brocku.ca, before contacting custodial services to pick up the desired item(s). At this time, there are no collection points for e-waste, but students are encouraged to bring their items down to Central Shipping and Receiving (MC G207). It’s a little bit confusing to find at first, but let’s face it—as students, sometimes we need a mini adventure and excuse to wander around.

    To make it easier, if it’s a cell phone you’re looking to recycle, they can be dropped off at the ITS desk.

    There’s definitely room for improvements in waste management at Brock, but we have to start somewhere, and it’s important to support the existing programs that are already working to do good work. By taking an extra few minutes out of our day, we can demonstrate our commitment to waste reduction, and do a little bit of good.

    To do a lot of good, share this with other Brock students, staff, and faculty, so we can all do our part!

    Look forward to a future blog article on food waste initiatives at Brock!

    Categories: Student Contributor, Sustainability at Brock

  • Brock’s tunnel bikes find new home

    After years of dedicated service to the University, a fleet of subterranean bicycles are finally seeing the light of day.

    Due to a new water main installation that will cause height restrictions, Facilities Management staff at Brock are no longer able to ride bikes through the tunnels running underneath the University.

    The bikes had been used to speed up staff members’ ability to travel throughout the lengthy tunnel system (restricted to staff only) as they completed various maintenance projects around campus.

    Rather than send the bikes to a landfill, the Facilities Management and Campus Security teams were able to find a more acceptable way to pass along the two-wheeled treasures.

    On Friday, June 15, more than 20 of the bikes were donated to Port Colborne High School’s Broken Spoke program.

    The program aims to engage students in the understanding and benefits of refurbishing bicycles to provide enjoyment and transportation for themselves and those less fortunate while also reducing landfill waste.

    Once the bikes have been refurbished, they will be donated to those in need, and have, in the past, been sent to places as far away as Haiti, Cuba and Africa.

    Story from The Brock News

  • Walking Trails located around Brock University!

    Blog Contributor: Kaitlin James

    Bruce Trail - Brock University

    Did you know that Brock is located in the Niagara Escarpment UNESCO Biosphere Reserve?

    UNESCO Biosphere Reserves are ecosystems worldwide that have been recognized by UNESCO (the United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization) as important, and are communities committed to conservation, education, and sustainable development among other things (Georgian Bay Biosphere Reserve, n.d). Brock University falls within the Niagara Escarpment Biosphere reserve which stretches over 725 km, one of the 18 found within Canada (UNESCO, 2015).

    Within the beautiful Niagara escarpment that surrounds Brock, is the Bruce Trail, which is the longest and oldest hiking trail in Canada. There are so many different trails, short and long, that surround main campus. Perfect for a break between classes or lunch!

    I personally walk the trail that connects to the bottom of Lockhart Drive, right by the Brock University Research and Innovation Centre, which brings you right outside of Market! Just a quick 10-minute hike up the hill to class. What a great way to see some wildlife and get some fresh air!

    There are many access points to the Bruce Trail from the top of the escarpment! To find out more about the Bruce Trail, and the many access points found across campus, click the link below!

    https://brucetrail.org

    References:

    Georgian Bay Biosphere Reserve. (n.d) UNESCO Biospheres. Retrieved from https://www.gbbr.ca/about-us/unesco-biospheres/

    UNESCO. (2015).  Niagara Escarpment. Retrieved from http://www.unesco.org/new/en/natural-sciences/environment/ecological-sciences/biosphere-reserves/europe-north-america/canada/niagara-escarpment/

    Categories: Student Contributor, Study Sustainability at Brock, Sustainability at Brock

  • Exciting Scholarship Opportunity for Brock’s Environmental Sustainability students!

    By: Shanen D’Souza

    Toromont CAT Scholarship Presentation

    Photo: Cheque presentation by ToromontCAT representatives to Scott Johnstone, AVP Facilities Management and Dr.Ingrid Makus, Dean of FOSS at the reopening of Theal House in February 2018.

    The Environmental Sustainability Research Centre (ESRC) along with Brock Facilities Management is offering $5,000 in scholarships for the upcoming year! ToromontCAT Construction donated these funds to the University to encourage and foster sustainability education and research at Brock.

    For students enrolled in the Master of Sustainability program, three scholarships of $1,000 each will be awarded to students in good academic standing. The three designations are as follows: one current student in Scheme A, one current student in Scheme B and one incoming student who will begin studies in the Fall of 2018. For students who have declared a Minor in Environmental Sustainability, two scholarships of $1,000 each will be awarded to students in good academic standing.

    For more information on the scholarships and applications please visit our website.

    This scholarship is another indicator of the quality research and education that is carried out through these Environmental Sustainability courses. It also displays Brock’s commitment to becoming a national leader in sustainability, while striving to create beneficial educational opportunities for its students. According to Ryan Plummer, Professor and Director of the ESRC, these scholarships recognize as well as support excellence in Environmental Sustainability.

    Applications include an essay question to be answered in 1500 words or less and the applicant’s unofficial transcripts. All completed applications must be submitted via email by August 22, 2018 by 11:59pm to sustainability@brocku.ca. Successful recipients will be notified via email by September 7, 2018.

    Categories: Student Contributor, Study Sustainability at Brock, Sustainability at Brock

  • Green thumbs needed to grow Brock Community Garden

    In addition to plants, the University is hopeful interest will grow in the Brock Community Garden.

    Brock’s grounds crew is busy tilling the soil, creating new grass aisles and enlarging the 12 garden plots located beside the entrance of the Zone 2 parking lot near Theal House.

    University staff, faculty and students looking to cultivate their green thumb are invited to use one of several free garden plots, assigned on a first-come, first-served basis.

    Six plots are available, with six already claimed. The Rosalind Blauer Centre for Child Care will use two plots for experiential learning; Biological Sciences Professor Liette Vasseur’s research team will use three plots to test different cover crops — plants grown for the protection and enrichment of the soil; and Brock employee Alison Innes (MA ’13) plans to tend one plot for her personal vegetable garden.

    Before learning about the community plots last year, Innes, the social media co-ordinator for the Faculty of Humanities, considered herself a ‘gardener without a garden’ and often resorted to container gardening in her apartment complex.

    “It’s just wonderful to have space to grow things,” she said of the University’s communal greenspace. “It’s easy to stop by the plot at the end of the day and pick some fresh veggies to take home for supper.”

    Last year, Innes grew radishes, lettuce, carrots, chard, cucumber, zucchini, onions, beans and garlic. This year, she looks forward to adding potatoes and trying some heirloom varieties of vegetables such as purple beans. She also has an assortment of herbs and pollinator plants.

    Unfortunately, butterflies and bees aren’t the only animals the plants attract.

    “I joke that the deer and bunnies on campus are really well fed,” she said. “They got all my sunflowers and most of my beans last year. It takes a little creativity to discourage them from munching, but that’s the case wherever you garden.”

    Garden plots are expected to be ready for use after Tuesday, May 22. Water will be available near the garden as well as some tools for sharing. Pesticides are not permitted and annual and non-invasive plants are preferred.

    “I can’t wait to get started,” said Innes. “I find working in the garden really calming and meditative. I like to garden in the evening when it’s a bit cooler and will sometimes see wildlife and birds.”

    Innes encourages first-time gardeners to consider getting a plot.

    “Try it. It’s not as difficult as it might seem, although your garden will need regular care like weeding and watering,” she said. “There are lots of easy-to-grow vegetable like potatoes, beans or summer squash, and lots of great online resources on how to layout your garden. Growing plants from seeds keeps costs down, too.”

    Staff, faculty and students interested in claiming a garden plot are asked to contact Grounds Manager John Dick at jdick@brocku.ca

    Story originally published in The Brock News.

  • $7.9 million in provincial funding means green light for Brock’s green energy project

    The second phase of a massive project to upgrade Brock University’s co-generation power facility is moving forward after an Ontario government funding announcement made Tuesday, March 27 in Toronto.

    The Ministry of Advanced Education and Skills Development (MAESD) announced $85.2 million in funding for eight Ontario universities through its Greenhouse Gas Campus Retrofits Program (GGCRP) Innovation Grant Fund. The GGCRP is designed to help post-secondary institutions reduce their greenhouse gas emissions and improve energy efficiency.

    Brock will receive $7.9 million to complete Phase 2 of its District Energy Efficiency Project (DEEP), which will upgrade and modernize the University’s co-generation facility, a reliable and energy-efficient source of electricity, cooling and heating on campus.

    The first, $10.8-million phase of the DEEP project started 18 months ago and is replacing half of the existing natural gas-powered co-gen engines with state-of-the-art, high efficiency, electronically controlled units. That project is expected to be completed this summer.

    DEEP Phase 2, which is being funded entirely through the Ontario government’s $7.9-million investment, will replace the remaining co-gen engines and install a new high-efficiency electric chiller unit. Work got started earlier this month and will be wrapped up by March 2019. No power interruptions are anticipated on campus as a result of the work.

    “Phase 2 is fully focused on carbon reduction and efficiency,” said Scott Johnstone, Associate Vice-President of Facilities Management. “The existing plant is about 25 years old. We’re replacing it with the latest technology that will make the entire co-gen facility more efficient.”

    The completed DEEP project will result in Brock’s annual NOx (nitrogen oxide) gas emissions dropping from 55 tonnes to just 8 tonnes and non-methane hydrocarbons reducing from 15 tonnes to four. The new co-generation engines will also consume 26 per cent less fuel and result in hundreds of thousands of dollars in utility cost saving each year.

    “This project isn’t just about saving money, it’s about making Brock University more environmentally friendly and reducing our carbon footprint,” said Johnstone.

    St. Catharines MPP Jim Bradley said the province and Brock University share a common goal of significant carbon reduction.

    “This investment by the Ontario government reaffirms its commitment to reducing greenhouse gas emissions on university campuses. This will allow the province of Ontario and its post-secondary institutions to lead by example when it comes to being energy efficient,” said Bradley.

    Brian Hutchings, Brock’s Vice-President, Administration, said the government’s investment in the co-generation facility will have a positive effect elsewhere in the University.

    “What’s unprecedented for Brock with this project is that it’s 100 per cent funded by the province,” Hutchings said. “The upgrades will result in significant utility cost savings, which will allow us to keep those costs flat during a period of inflation.”

    With the completion of the second phase of the DEEP project, all of the equipment in the co-generation facility will be new, which Johnstone said “will set the University up for another 25 or 30 years of service.”

    Story originally published in The Brock News

  • Brock unveils a new showcase and a new era for environmental sustainability

    It was built nearly two centuries ago, but the oldest structure on Brock’s campus has been given new life and a new purpose as a focal point for the University’s sustainability efforts.

    Theal House, an original farm cottage that dates to 1837, has been transformed into the home of Brock’s Environmental Sustainability Research Centre (ESRC), which produces world-class research and educates students in topics relating to environmental sustainability.

    Unveiled during a ribbon-cutting ceremony Wednesday, Feb. 28, the revamped space features sustainable flooring and furniture, as well as an integrated system that controls heating, cooling and lighting, and monitors real-time energy use for the entire campus.

    Environmental Sustainability Research Centre Director Ryan Plummer, left, reads over a new project charter with Tom Dunk, Interim Provost and Vice-President, Academic, and Brian Hutchings, Vice-President, Administration. The agreement will see the ESRC work with Brock’s Facilities Management team on upcoming sustainability initiatives.

    LED lighting has also been installed throughout the heritage building, with dimmer and daylight harvesting switches in place to reduce energy consumption.

    In addition to highlighting the space, Wednesday’s ceremony was an opportunity to solidify a new collaboration between the ESRC and Brock’s Facilities Management team. The collaboration is enshrined in a formal charter that brings together the academic and operations units on various sustainability initiatives on campus. It is also an important step forward for Brock’s new integrative approach to environmental sustainability, and deepens the University’s commitment to sustainability — one of the seven core values listed within its strategic plan.

    Also announced Wednesday was $5,000 in new scholarship funding provided by Toromont CAT that will support students studying sustainability.

    Professor and ESRC Director Ryan Plummer said the partnership signals a new era in the University’s journey to be a national leader in sustainability.

    “The charter enables rich opportunities for experiential education relating to environmental sustainability, and the scholarships recognize as well as support excellence in this area of study,” said Plummer. “They will have a profound and positive impact by enhancing student experience, promoting innovative approaches for learning excellence and furthering engagement with sustainability.”

    Brock has been dedicated to improving energy and operational efficiency on campus with dozens of energy projects and green initiatives completed over the years, said Scott Johnstone, the University’s Associate Vice-President, Facilities Management.

    “Moving forward, we want to further our partnership with staff, students, faculty members and the larger Brock community to enhance, challenge and maintain a campus culture of sustainability.”

    Sean Goodman and Ron Cocking, of Toromont CAT, presented Scott Johnstone, Brock’s Associate Vice-President, Facilities Management, and Ingrid Makus, interim Dean of the Faculty of Social Sciences, with $5,000 to support students in sustainability programming at Brock.

    Hands-on experiential learning opportunities that contribute to sustainability at the University will be made available to students through co-op placements, research assistant opportunities, independent research and course-based projects.

    This week’s announcements reinforce the University’s values around sustainability, while also taking into consideration Brock’s role in a global context, said President Gervan Fearon. “We’re part of the broader ecosystem and as such, we need to think about the impact our footprint has and what our actions in support of sustainability mean.”

    Brock recognizes its distinction as one of only a few universities within a UNESCO World Biosphere Reserve and intends to continue pushing forward with its environmental sustainability initiatives, he said.

    Brock’s programs concentrating on sustainability are growing quickly. The Master of Sustainability program was introduced in 2014 and continues to receive considerable uptake from across Canada and around the world. In 2017, the ESRC launched the Minor in Environmental Sustainability and early signs suggest it is following a similar positive trajectory.

    Theal House is now the home of Brock’s Environmental Sustainability Research Centre.


    Story originally published in The Brock News

  • A greener Brock taking shape

    You may have noticed them buzzing about campus over the past few months.

    Two new Brock-branded electric Smart cars have been added to the Facilities Management fleet, contributing to the University’s efforts to reduce carbon emissions.

    Brock has a number of initiatives on the go as work continues to achieve a goal of reducing carbon emissions by 20 per cent between 2013 and 2023.

    Scott Johnstone

    Scott Johnstone, Interim Associate Vice-President of Facilities Management, stands in front of Brock’s cooling system.

     

     

     

     

     

     

    The Smart cars replaced supervisor vehicles — one van and one SUV — previously driven around campus. The two-year-old electric cars, each with minimal kilometres, were purchased for $10,000 each. In comparison, vans previously added to the fleet were each more than double that cost.

    “We get about a week and a half on one charge just moving around campus, avoiding fill-ups at the gas pumps,” said Scott Johnstone, Interim Associate Vice-President of Facilities Management.

    “It means significant carbon savings.”

    The University sought out green options when replacing the fleet vehicles and the cars have proven to be a benefit since their introduction two months ago.

    “Our goal is to work toward carbon neutrality over time,” Johnstone said, calling the Smart vehicles a step in the right direction. “We’re trying to cut down on burning fossil fuels as much as we can.”

    The University is also midway through its $10.8-million District Energy Efficiency Project (DEEP), which is scheduled for completion by the end of April 2018.

    The project is funded by the federal and provincial governments, through the Strategic Investment Fund and Facilities Renewal Program respectively.

    The DEEP project includes an upgrade to Brock’s co-generation plant and satellite utility areas that will allow the University to reduce its carbon emissions by 15 per cent. The plant produces electricity, heating and cooling for main campus research laboratories, teaching spaces and supporting infrastructure.

    That reduction is a “huge step” toward Brock’s 20 per cent reduction goal, Johnstone said.

    The DEEP project will replace more than 50 per cent of the natural gas power co-generation engines and controls with state-of-the-art, high efficiency, electronically controlled units.

    Also replaced with a high-efficiency model will be the University’s 25-year-old absorption chiller, which will increase cooling capacity and save more energy.

    The new technology will significantly reduce Brock’s greenhouse gas emissions, while saving utility costs and reducing maintenance costs.

    It’s also expected to free up funds that can be put toward other energy saving initiatives and deferred maintenance projects.

    Brock is currently exploring solar and wind power options for the future.

    Story from The Brock News