Articles by author: Amanda Smits

  • 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

  • Grand opening set for new cycling path near Brock

    Travelling to Brock by bike or on foot just got a bit easier — and a lot safer.

    Work on the new Decew and Merrittville multi-use pathway has been completed, providing a safe route to get to the University from one of the most popular off-campus residential neighbourhoods.

    Last year, the Government of Ontario, City of Thorold, Niagara Region and Brock University announced a partnership to build a network of bike lanes and paths that would stretch from the Confederation Heights neighbourhood to the Brock campus.

    The announcement followed lobbying efforts by the Brock University Students’ Union for improved cycling infrastructure near campus.

    The first phase of the project began in 2016 with Decew Road reconstructed from Richmond Street to Merrittville Highway. Work continued this past April with a multi-use path and improved lighting installed on the highway between Decew Road and Sir Isaac Brock Way.

    An officially opening for the new pathway will be held Wednesday, July 19 at 3 p.m. outside of Niagara Region headquarters — on the southeast corner of Sir Isaac Brock Way and Merrittville Highway. The ceremony will be followed by a bike ride for cyclists of all ages. All are welcome to attend.

    Active transportation, such as walking or cycling, is a healthy way for the large population of Brock students and employees living in Thorold to commute to campus, said Elizabeth Yates, a liaison librarian at Brock, who is also a member of the Thorold Active Transportation Advisory Committeethat advocated for the path project.

    “Before this pathway was built, walking or riding along Decew and Merrittville felt unsafe due to large volumes of traffic, with vehicles sometimes travelling over the speed limits,” she said. “Poor nighttime lighting was another concern.”

    As a cyclist and advocate for active transportation in the community, Yates was impressed to see so many partners come together to show their support for an initiative that “promotes healthy commuting and makes our area safer for everyone.”

    Story from The Brock News

  • Brock launches Green 2 Go re-usable container program

    Brock Hospitality Services is, quite literally, going green.

    A new program aimed at diverting waste and making the food services at Brock more environmentally friendly launched Monday.

    Through the new Green 2 Go program, anyone purchasing food from Guernsey Market, The Hungry Badger in Walker Complex or either the DeCew or Lowenberger residence dining halls will have the option of using a re-usable plastic container.

    Initially, customers will have the option of having food servers put their food into one of the green 6”x9” containers. When they go to a cashier to pay, they’ll be charged an extra $5 fee for the container, which can then be taken anywhere by the customer. When they’re finished with it, the container can be returned dirty to any of the four participating dining areas, where they’ll receive a Green-2-Go card, which can be handed to a food server to get a new container.

    “In the past, we couldn’t do this because people had to clean the containers themselves,” said Iain Glass, Director of Hospitality Services. “Now, we can put these containers into our industrial dishwashers to be cleaned an sanitized.”

    The containers seal tightly so they won’t spill, and they keep food warm longer than a typical take-out container.

    Glass said they can be washed about 800 times before needing to be recycled and replaced with a new one.

    For now, only one type of container is being offered, but a screw-top soup container is also being developed and will be added if the program takes off.

    For more information on Brock’s sustainability initiatives or the Green 2 Go program, visit

    Story from The Brock News