• The O-Week Sustainability Challenge Is Back!

    Image preview

    By: Thurkkha Thayalalingam and Evan Rodenburg

    Back by popular demand, the O-Week Sustainability Challenge initiative is calling on Brock University students to track their sustainable actions for the chance to win one of five prizes. 

    In partnership with Blackstone Energy Services, Brock University is hosting its third annual Welcome Back Sustainability Challenge! From September 11 to 15, students can log their sustainability actions, ranging anywhere from taking public transportation to turning off the lights, onto the EcoBoss app. 

    The five students with the most actions logged by the end of the challenge will be entered into a draw to win one of the three Apple products: an Apple iPad, Apple Watch or Apple AirPods. The two students not chosen in the draw will automatically win a $50 Campus Store gift card. 

    Register to participate in the challenge between September 5 and September 10 on the EcoBoss App following the instructions below: 

    1. Once the free EcoBoss app is downloaded, review and accept the app’s privacy policy
    2. Create an account using your Brock email and enter Brock’s challenge code: badgers
    3. Click the badge icon to join the Brock “Welcome Back Sustainability Challenge”
    4. Press the green “Join Challenge” button and you’re all set!

    The challenge will open at 12:00am on Monday September 11, and close at noon on Friday September 15. The winners of the challenge will be announced at 3pm on September 15! 

    The goal of the sustainability challenge is to encourage environmental stewardship throughout the Brock community by encouraging students to adopt more sustainable habits. The result of this challenge has garnered substantial participation over the years, resulting in large reductions in CO2 emissions, increased amounts of waste diverted from landfills, and significant savings in water use.

    Categories: Challenge/Contest, Student Contributor, Sustainability at Brock

  • Students logged sustainable actions to showcase environmental commitment leading to Earth Day!

    By: Sanjida Amin

    From April 17 to 21, 2023, Brock University hosted another Sustainability Challenge to encourage engagement in environmental action for Earth Day. Earth Day was first celebrated on April 22, 1970, and it is considered as the beginning of the environmental movement. Over the years, Earth Day has become one of the world’s greatest environmental participatory movement on the planet. The day is now regarded as a global initiative to promote the protection and care of our planet.

    To celebrate earth Day, Brock students took part in a Sustainability Challenge by showcasing daily sustainable actions. Brock University partnered with Blackstone Energy Services with the hope to encourage students to contribute to a sustainable campus and incorporate sustainable solutions in their daily lives through innovative and engaging software. Students used the Blackstone Energy EcoBoss app to log daily sustainable actions, such as using a reusable water bottle and carpooling, over the course of five days. The rules were simple: students were required to join challenge through registration once the app was downloaded and log all sustainable actions made throughout those five days on the EcoBoss app to accumulate points. Those with the highest scores at the end of the challenge won the following prizes:

    1st place prize: Niagara Parks Experience Vouchers, sponsored by The Niagara Parks Commission.

    2nd place prize: CYBORIS Solar Bluetooth Speaker.

    3rd place prize: Solar Pack Charger, sponsored by Blackstone Energy.

    4th, 5th & 6th place prizes: Sustainable lunch bag with a 16oz Hydro Flask and a wheat straw food storage container, sponsored by the Campus Store, the ESRC, and Blackstone Energy.

    7th to 10th place prizes: Seed planting kit with potting soil and seeds from the Brock University Seed Library.

    Popular actions which were tracked using the app included using reusable water bottles, turning off lights, turning off water while brushing teeth, taking shorter showers, saving energy, eating leftovers, recycling, using public transportation, composting, air drying dishes, buying local, and so much more. Students from a range of academic fields and programmes-including business, education, science, and the arts-took part in the competition and engaged enthusiastically throughout the duration. Through the app, we were able to estimate CO2 savings, waste diversion, and water savings from logged actions. Total estimations include the following:

    • 2,027kg in CO2 savings
    • 114kg in waste diverted
    • 4 thousand litres in water savings

    The competition aimed to include Brock University’s student community in sustainability initiatives at campus and show how simple it is to incorporate sustainable practises into daily living. Moving forward, there are plans to host more sustainability challenges to motivate students to continue their environmental actions to minimize energy usage, reduce their carbon footprint, and contribute to the health of the environment!


    Categories: Challenge/Contest, Student Contributor, Sustainability at Brock, Uncategorised

  • Students in ADST 5P70 Participate in Sustainability Challenge

    By: Kassie Burns

    Screenshot containing challenge information (date range and course code).

    Students in ADST 5P70: Applied Behaviour Analysis Measurement, Research and Evaluation, have found themselves busy competing in the Blackstone Energy App Sustainability Challenge. The class has been logging sustainable actions for the last two months! Course instructor, Dr. Kendra Thomson, described the course as “a first-year course in our Masters of Applied Disability Studies (MADS) and MA in the Applied Behaviour Analysis (ABA) specialization in our Applied Disability Studies Department. One of the main course objectives is to give students an overview of and be informed consumers of applied and clinical research, especially in ABA”.

    When asked “why did you decide hosting a Sustainability Challenge was important to incorporate into your class”?  She replied “I have been passionate about the environment since a child of the 80s & 90s, about a decade after the first Earth Day in 1971. I was a proud member of Kids for Saving Earth and used to pick up garbage in my small town with friends in the evening for fun. I have continuously tried to be a more environmentally conscious citizen and feel that I have a responsibility as an educator to inspire interest in this topic and encourage reflection and behaviour change in students. For the last few years, I have tried to incorporate a sustainability challenge into my classes. This stemmed from observing the large amount of waste produced in our all-day weekend model classes.  In the weekend model for our part-time classes, we are in class all day, after which I noticed the garbage bins were overflowing. I challenged the students in one of my classed about 5 or so years ago to see if we could reduce the amount of waste in the bin the next class by encouraging reusable coffee mugs and lunch containers. The successful outcome was visible to all students. This grew into it becoming a self-monitoring task built into all of my courses in which students are asked to report on their sustainable behaviours between classes for bonus points. The addition of the app is a bonus!”.

    While conversing with Kendra, it was amazing to see her enthusiasm towards promoting more sustainable lifestyles and was a wonderful example of it in practice. Her class has just finished the challenge and congratulations goes to all involved with the top three leaders Thomasy You, Mikhaela Fernandez, and Arwen Hunter!

    Reflecting on the experience Arwen Hunter, Masters of Applied Disability Studies (M.ADS) student, comments “using the Blackstone app was an excellent way to digitize the drive toward sustainability. Not only did it make it easier to record our sustainability actions, it also highlighted how many ways there are to make change in your day to day life. I was excited to see how many my family had already incorporated behavioural changes and was able to adjust with relative ease. The bonus marks were a great motivator to drive change”.

    Emily Houston, Masters of Applied Disability Studies (M.ADS) student, shared “I have really enjoyed using the app to not only keep me on the right track towards sustainability, but I found it very helpful to see all the different ways to live sustainably that I wasn’t aware of. It has definitely made me more aware of my behaviour and has encouraged me to do better for our planet”.

    Overall, the challenge showed great success and promoted sustainable lifestyles for students and family. Some of the most common actions the students logged can be seen listed below!

    Sustainability Challenge actions included:

    • Using a reusable shopping bag
    • Air-dried laundry
    • Washing with cold water
    • Turning off the lights
    • Using a reusable mug
    • Turning the tap off while brushing teeth
    • Ensuring full dishwasher loads, prior to running
    • Eating local produce
    • Using a reusable lunchbox
    • Recycling/composting
    • Shuting off computer monitors
    • Skipping meat
    • Dressing for the season
    • Taking public transit
    • Eating leftovers



    Categories: Challenge/Contest, Student Contributor, Sustainability at Brock

  • Brock Students embraced Welcome Back Sustainability Challenge

    By: Sanjida Amin

    Every day we make choices in our lives that affect the environment around us whether it be the food we intake or how we choose to get to work or school. Leading a sustainable lifestyle and showing how we are environmentally responsible is a significant step towards taking climate action.

    The university hosted another Welcome Back Sustainability Challenge on the week of September 12th – 16th, 2022 wherein Brock students choose to take part in a sustainability challenge and steps in their daily lives to make small, sustainable changes. Brock University partnered with Blackstone energy services to engage the students in contributing to a sustainable campus and to easily integrate sustainable solutions into everyday life through an innovative and interactive app. To participate in the competition, students were motivated to track their daily sustainable habits over a period of five days through using the unique Blackstone Energy EcoBoss app.

    The actions were simple and daily life hacks included using reusable water bottles, turning off lifes, turning off water while brushing, recycling, using public transportation, etc. The rules of the competition to participate were straight forward: Students were required to join challenge and log all sustainable actions made throughout the day on the Blackstone Energy app to accumulate points and to compete for prizes. Prizes were given to the students who placed in the top 10 by accumulating the most points included an Apple iPad, an Apple Watch, AirPods, $75 campus store gift cards and five $20 Campus Store gift cards for those who placed 6th to 10th, which were donated by the Campus Store. Those in the top five were placed in a draw for the three apple prizes and our winners are highlighted below. Students from a variety of disciplines and programs, ranging from business and education to science and the arts, participated in the competition and actively engaged throughout the event.

    Through all of the actions logged into the app, total impact, which were estimated by the EcoBoss app, including the following:

    • 6 thousand kg. in CO2 savings
    • 1,073 kg. in waste diverted
    • 1 thousand litres in water savings

    The prime objective of the Welcome Back Sustainability challenge was to demonstrate and make students realize that how easy it is to contribute to the environment through impactful sustainable choices on a regular basis. Moving forward, there are plans to host more sustainability challenges competitions periodically to motivate the students to continue their eco-friendly actions to minimize the usage of natural resources, reduce carbon footprint and contribute to healthy eco-systems.

    Categories: Challenge/Contest, Student Contributor, Sustainability at Brock

  • Brock Students Celebrated Earth Hour with Sustainability Challenge

    By: Madison Lepp

    On the week of March 21 to 25, Brock hosted its second Sustainability Challenge to encourage engagement in Earth Hour. Earth Hour engages millions of people in switching off their lights to show support for our planet. The day has become a catalyst for positive environmental impact – driving major legislative changes by harnessing the power of collective action. This year, 2022, was branded as The Year That Counts. Later this year, world leaders will be coming together to attend a critical United Nations conference on nature & biodiversity. Happening shortly before the CBD COP 15, Earth Hour is a crucial opportunity to put the spotlight on this conference and build the global momentum needed to pressure world leaders into action later in the year.

    The challenge, which was hosted in partnership with Blackstone Energy Services, encouraged students to log their sustainable actions over a one-week period on the Blackstone Energy app. The goal of the challenge was to engage the student community in contributing to Sustainability at Brock and highlight ways to easily integrate sustainable solutions into everyday life. Actions included turning the tap off when brushing your teeth, composting, air drying dishes, buying local, and so much more.

    “We are thrilled with the level of student participation we’ve seen in throughout the sustainability challenges we’ve held this year and are hopeful these challenges are allowing students to see how small changes they can make in their own lives can have large scale impacts. ” said Amanda Smits, Centre Administrator at the Environmental Sustainability Research Centre.

    The rules were simple: log all sustainable actions you made throughout the day on the app to accumulate points. The three students who accumulated the most points by the end of the competition won a Grouphug window solar charger, a Cyboris solar-powered Bluetooth speaker, and a Hydro Flask from the Campus Store plus two Stasher reusable silicone bags.

    Winners of the challenge were happy to share the impact this initiative had on their day-to-day lives. First-place finisher Sydney Macintyre, noted how she has brought the actions taken during the challenge into her everyday life:

    “My most logged action was walk there,” she said. “I am finding myself walking to close locations everyday versus driving. This challenge has brought to light many ways in which sustainability can be incorporated into your daily itinerary!”

    Second-place finisher noted how the challenge made her really think about the bigger picture

    “This challenge made me appreciate how significant Earth Hour is,” said KC Vega. “It was a way to contribute something good and positive to help save our Earth. I would highly encourage others to take part in this challenge; as I would definitely participate again in the next one!”

    Through the app, we were able to estimate CO2 savings, waste diversion, and water savings from students logging their sustainable actions. With over 1,000 actions logged, an estimated total of 1,390 kilograms of CO2(about half the weight of an elephant) and 12,660 litres of water (about half the volume of a large U-Haul truck) were saved. Additionally, 75 kilograms of waste (about the weight of a washing machine) was diverted. The top actions included using a reusable water bottle, turning off the water when brushing your teeth, recycling, using a reusable mug, and turning off the lights when leaving a room.

    “I liked the challenge because it was a fun way to connect with other students off-campus in a challenging way!” Said third-place finisher, Victoria Stinson. “It was genuinely so much fun competing while completing sustainable actions!”

    The goal of the Sustainability Challenge was to highlight Earth Hour and how easy it is to make small, yet impactful, sustainable choices every day. Students are encouraged to continue taking eco-friendly actions to reduce their carbon footprint and contribute to the health of the environment!

    Categories: Challenge/Contest, Climate Change, Student Contributor, Sustainability at Brock

  • Facilities Management is Taking Action through a Holiday Sustainability Challenge

    Blog Contributor: Elenore Breslow

    Every day we make choices in our lives that impact the environment around us – from the food we eat to the car we drive. Leading a sustainable lifestyle is an important first step in taking climate action, and perhaps can become a precursor of wider change to help incentivise climate action on a larger scale 

    Staff members in Facilities Management (FM) are setting the tone across the University by taking part in their first Holiday Sustainability Challenge. Blackstone Energy Services and Brock partnered together to provide an innovative and interactive sustainability app to encourage adoption of more sustainable habits through friendly competition. This past fall a student-focused challenge was hosted but now staff are getting in on the fun too! 

    “We’re so proud of the efforts and overall participation from the FM team in the challenge, said Drew Cullen, Manager, District Energy. “Not only was the competition a great way to inspire everyone to lead a more sustainable lifestyle, but it was also a fun team bonding exercise.” 

    Facilities Management Holiday Sustainability Challenge Winners – The Carbon Crushers. (left to right) Scott Johnstone (Senior Associate VP, Infrastructure & Operations), Mary Quintana (Director, Asset Management & Utilities), Mandeep Mukkar-Ippolito (Facilities Manager, MIWSFPA & Satellite Sites), Dave McArthur (Director, Facilities & Services), John Clutterbuck (Manager, CFHBRC).

    The weeklong challenge started on December 6 and ended on December 10, 2021. Six teams took part, which included team fun names like “Carbon Crushers”, “Captain Planet and the Paperless Posse”, and “Eco Warriors”. FM did not take the challenge lightly; and there may have been some sore losers. In the end the Carbon Crushers took first prize and won sustainable gift baskets from the Campus Store. Even though the competition was all in good fun, it does sound like the other teams are already looking for a rematch. 

    Impact Totals from the Challenge:  

    Over 3.6 tons of CO2 saved 

    270 kilograms of waste diverted 

    5300 gallons of water saved  

    Participants logged their actions in the Blackstone Energy App. Popular actions that earned points included: taking a shorter shower, having a vegetarian meal, carpooling, and visiting a park. The challenge encouraged FM to make more sustainable choices in their everyday lives and share the reasoning behind these behavioral changes with those around them.  

    “The holiday sustainability challenge was a fun experience and it also highlighted that many of us in FM already live sustainable lives, but there is always room for improvement,” said Dave Mcarthur, Director, Facilities & Services.  

    “It also illustrated that adopting sustainable habits doesn’t necessarily cost more, it just can require a little discipline,” he said. 

    Moving forward, there are plans to host more sustainability challenges for staff and faculty, as well as students. Individual action matters and when we choose to take public transit instead of driving, purchase local produce, or switch to LEDs, we have an impact. The goal of these challenges is to showcase how everyone can make their lives more sustainable, and hopefully continue the actions after the contest is over. 

    Categories: Challenge/Contest, Sustainability at Brock