Student Contributor

  • Sustainable Development Goals Training Day at Brock!

    Blog Contributor: Noah Nickel

    On November 16th at Brock University in Pond Inlet, there will be a Sustainability Development Goal Training Day workshop and conference, co-hosted by Brock Model United Nations, Brock SDG Youth Training, and the ESRC, the SDG Training Day.

    Are you interested in the Sustainable Development Goals? Do you want to make change with a global impact?

    Attend this SDG Training Day to learn about the SDGs and how you can promote sustainable development!

    The training day is comprised of an inspiring keynote from a SDG expert and two interactive, skill-building workshops. By the end of the day, you will have the necessary skills and knowledge to impact change and advance the SDGs!

    Tickets required for entry. Tickets will be $10 and will include entry into the event and your lunch. You can purchase tickets by clicking here.

    To RSVP to the event and to find out more information, check out the event page on Facebook: SDG Training Day

    Categories: Student Contributor, Sustainability, Sustainability at Brock

  • Jasper’s Summer Wrap-Up

    Blog Contributor: Jasper Fisher

    Hello, my name is Jasper, and I worked in the ESRC under the Charter Agreement with Facilities Management for the summer of 2019! While currently an undergraduate student studying Neuroscience and Gender Studies, sustainability has always been an area of personal interest of mine. Working in the Centre was a very rewarding experience for me; being able to apply my academic skills to address a topic of personal interest proved to be a very valuable learning experience that I will take with me through my academic career.

    One of the most memorable experiences that I had during my time with the ESRC was working with our team to update the Sustainability Policy. It was important to me that the concept of sustainability refer to the environment, culture, and socioeconomics.

    The most widely adopted explanation of sustainability, first claimed by the Brundtland Report, defines it as, “development that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs” (Brundtland, 1987). I like how this definition emphasizes the need to balance present and future needs and development. As a major public institution, Brock has a responsibility to contribute to this balance on its larger scale.

    Implementing this definition of sustainability on an institutional level is important for taking true actionable steps towards fighting climate change, which I am proud of having had a hand in doing during my time with the ESRC at Brock. Through all the projects I’ve aided in completing during my work term, I believe that the expanded concept of sustainability in the sustainability policy was the most valuable contribution that I made.

    Categories: Student Contributor, Sustainability, Sustainability at Brock

  • Interview: Ryan Stewart, Energy Manager

    Blog Contributor: Noah Nickel

    Recently I had an interview with Ryan Stewart, the Energy Manager at Brock University. This summer Ryan led a group in creating Brock’s Energy Conservation and Demand Management Plan (ECDM) and so I asked him about him and his role, and the ECDM and what it means to the Brock community.

    Q1. Do you mind just giving a quick background about yourself?

    My name is Ryan Stewart, I’m a former Brock graduate, and a mechanical engineer with 15 years of consulting experience, specifically in the thermal energy and power generation fields. I’ve been working at Brock for the last three years as a temporary Technical Services manager and now as the Energy manager. My current role here is to spearhead energy conservation projects, apply for and obtain energy rebates, monitor and forecast utilities consumptions and costs, as well as all of our regulatory reporting requirements.

    Q2. If you could distill the ECDM into a single sentence what would you say? To describe it to people that have never heard of it before.

    The ECDM is a history of what the University has accomplished in terms of conservation in the last 5 years as well as a roadmap of where the University is going to focus its efforts for GHG and energy reductions during the next 5 years.

    Q3. What single project or measure in the ECDM are you most proud of?

    I would have to say some the measures that I am most proud of are the two projects that we undertook in Decew Residence as well as in Plaza. Both projects resulted in fairly significant reductions in energy consumptions in both buildings without the expenditure of large amounts of capital in order for them to happen. These projects both utilized existing controls and infrastructure and with some investigation and minor alterations to valving allowed for a much more efficient building operation.

    Q4. How can we as members of the Brock community contribute to Brock’s Energy Conservation efforts?

    There are a multitude of ways individuals can contribute to our energy conservation efforts, simply being mindful of your electrical usage is a big one. Don’t leave lights on or the TV on in your dorm room when you are gone, not having additional plug loads like fans and space heaters running at all times, not leaving windows and doors open when the heat or ac is running is another big one. These may not seem like much in terms of energy conservation, but if everyone gets in the habit of being mindful of their energy use, we could see a huge change.

     You can check out the ECDM for yourself by clicking here.

    Categories: Student Contributor, Sustainability, Sustainability at Brock

  • Noah’s Summer Wrap-Up

    Blog Contributor: Noah Nickel

    Where has the time gone? It seems like it was only yesterday I found out that I would be starting my summer co-op work term and now it’s already coming to a close.

    My name is Noah, and this summer I had the pleasure of working with the Environmental Sustainability Research Centre here at Brock University, and what an experience it was. I wouldn’t trade this summer and this opportunity for the world, as it not only taught me so much about environmental sustainability, but it provided me a very valuable platform through which I was able to engage with staff at Brock, Environmental Sustainability Professors, and other students and community stakeholders on the topic of sustainability, and really achieve some great things in the process.

    For starters, in my role as Communications and Events Assistant, I had the opportunity to manage our social media channels (@BUSustainable & @BrockUESRC on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram), our newsletter, and our website, as I continued the implementation the ESRC’s long term communications plan. I am proud to say that through the work I did managing the ESRC’s various media outlets, I was able to contribute to their long term communications goals in a meaningful way, increasing our followers and their engagement with our content, ensuring that the topic of Sustainability at Brock and Environmental Sustainability more broadly reach a broader and more thoroughly engaged audience.

    I was also one of the many architects of Brock’s Energy Conservation and Demand Management Plan (ECDM), which is essentially a detailed history of what the University has accomplished in terms of conservation in the last 5 years as well as a roadmap of where the University is going to focus its efforts for greenhouse gas (GHG) and energy reductions during the next 5 years. I was able to work with many amazing people on this project, and to collaborate on such a substantial and meaningful task, regarding the entirety of energy conservation and GHG projects at Brock both past and present, was personally fulfilling to me unlike any other project I had ever worked on. I would highly recommend checking out the ECDM to get a glimpse at the numerous projects Brock has already undertaken to conserve energy and reduce GHG’s, as well as some of their future plans.

    I have also been involved as a member of the executive planning committee in creating and organizing a Sustainable Development Goals Training Day here at Brock, based on the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDG’s). Open to the general public, this training day will serve to not only educate you on the 17 SDG’s, but it will also provide you the opportunity to personally engage with them and apply this knowledge in a series of workshops that will require you to work collaboratively, problem solve, and critically think about and analyze scenarios, questions, and more. You can RSVP to this event either on Facebook or through ExperienceBU if you are a Brock student, and it will be held on Saturday November 16th from 10:00am – 3:00pm. I encourage everyone to look into the SDG’s and seriously consider attending this event in order to expand your knowledge and mobilize in support of environmental sustainability and sustainable development.

    While this barely scratches the surface of the various projects that I worked on with the ESRC this past summer, I believe that it demonstrates the unique nature of the work that has been done, is currently being done, and can be done in the future when we work together towards environmental sustainability on a broad-based, institutional level.

    It’s clear that the earth is in a very precarious situation right now. As the climate catastrophe continues to intensify across the globe, it’s clear that our institutions are failing us by not adequately responding to this pressing issue. However, I believe that we can only tackle the climate crisis by engaging with these institutions and changing them from within so that they work for us. That means writing to our politicians, making an environmentally conscious vote this coming election, and getting involved in places like universities that have major platforms that can be used orchestrate and achieve profound societal change, including on issues of environmental sustainability. It’s too late to just worry about our own habits and just worry about ourselves, we have to get together and demand immediate action from within the power structure for the sake of humanity, and the planet.

    Categories: Student Contributor, Sustainability, Sustainability at Brock

  • Interview: Drew Cullen, District Energy Manager

    Blog Contributor: Noah Nickel

    Recently I had an interview with Drew Cullen, the District Energy Manager at Brock University. This summer Drew began working to bring Energy Dashboard’s to the Brock Campus and will be showcasing Sustainability-related content on the existing slide carousels throughout the campus this coming school year, and so I wanted to speak with him about that project and what it means for Brock.

    Q1. Do you mind just giving a quick background about yourself?

    My name is Drew Cullen and I am the District Energy Manager here at Brock. In my role one of the many things that I do is run the Asset Management & Utilities team, who spearheads sustainability initiatives for Facilities Management. This department is comprised by a multi-disciplinary team and is responsible for the efficient and resilient production and supply of utilities to the campus.

    Q2. Could you describe what an Energy Dashboard is to people who may have never heard of them? 

    It is a tool to create awareness for Faculty, Staff, and Students about the campus energy consumption.  The dashboard is a tool for helping people become more aware of their utility consumption patterns. We want to engage people on the sustainable initiatives that the University is implementing to improve our campus energy usage and carbon footprint and have people make more sustainable decisions at Brock.

    Q3. Why should people care about Brock’s energy usage?

    Around the world, energy usage is directly related to the production of greenhouse gas emissions, having an impact on climate change. Likewise, waste also has a significant environmental impact. As one of the leaders in Niagara, Brock needs to set the example to improve our environment. We need the help of everyone in the Brock community to achieve this goal and we can display our results on the energy dashboards when we do implement them.

    Q4. How can we as members of the Brock community contribute to reducing waste on campus and improving our dashboard metrics? 

    Little actions are all that it takes: Turning lights off in your office or classroom when they are not needed, taking shorter showers, setting your thermostat between 21-23 degrees, carpooling, using transit, eating less meat, properly disposing of recycling and waste, the list goes on.

    Keep your eyes out for the Energy Dashboards, which are expected to launch sometime in the coming months, and the sustainability slide carousel content, which will launch at the start of the 2019 fall semester.

     

     

    Categories: Student Contributor, Sustainability, Sustainability at Brock

  • Interview: Ana Ferreira, Brock Eco Society

    Blog Contributor: Noah Nickel

    Recently I had the pleasure of interviewing Ana Ferreira, the recent founder of the Brock Eco Society. In our interview Ana explains her inspiration for starting the Eco Society, what the Eco Society is, and what impact she hopes they can have at Brock, and in the broader community.

    Q1. Do you mind just giving a quick background about yourself?

    My name is Ana Ferreira, I am and international student from Trinidad and Tobago going into third year of the Bachelor of Science in Kinesiology program. I have always loved being in nature and was engaged with environmental sustainability in Trinidad before moving to Canada. Since being in Canada my passion for preserving the environment has only grown.

    Q2. So, you just recently started the Eco Society here at Brock, could you tell me why you chose to start this club?

    I started the Brock Eco Society because I am very interested in environmental activism and I was disappointed to find out that Brock didn’t have an environmental club. For this reason, I thought it was important to start the Brock Eco Society to get the Brock community engaged in environmentalism.

    Q3. If you could describe the Eco Society in one sentence, mission statement, etc. What would you say?

    Brock Eco Society is a group where students can meet like-minded individuals who have a passion for preserving the environment. The club tackles a variety of environmental issues while still providing an atmosphere for students to have fun while de-stressing from school.

    Q4. What role do you see the Eco Society playing within Brock? In the community? Etc.

    I hope that Brock Eco Society will be an outlet for Brock and the surrounding community to learn more about environmentalism and how they can make an impact in their own way. The club will also be a way for students to make friends and get involved in environmental activism. We also hope to work together as a club to reduce the environmental footprint of not only Brock but St. Catharines more broadly.

    You can find the Brock Eco Society on ExperienceBU, on Instagram and Facebook @brockecosociety, or via email at brockecosociety@gmail.com.

    Categories: Student Contributor, Sustainability, Sustainability at Brock

  • Functional & Sustainable: Wayfinding is a Win-Win

    Blog Contributor: Noah Nickel

    As you make your way back to Brock this upcoming school year, you might notice a few new eye-catching monoliths that have sprung up around campus.

    These new Brock Red campus landmarks don’t just add a splash of colour across campus, but they actually serve a pretty major function for visitors and new students, staff, and faculty alike.

    Gone are the days of hopelessly asking the nearest bystander for shoddy directions to a building on the opposite end of campus, now with these new way finding signs traversing Brock’s ever-growing campus will be a breeze for all who come here.

    What makes these signs so interesting to us here at Brock Sustainability is that they are solar powered. So not only are these new signs a great functional and aesthetic addition to the Brock campus, but they’re also sustainable, and that’s a win-win if you ask us.

    Categories: Student Contributor, Sustainability, Sustainability at Brock

  • Fighting the Climate Emergency

    Blog Contributor: Noah Nickel

    Each day it appears that the future of our planet seems to be more dire than the day before. While to some that might sound hyperbolic, for anyone following the news, they know this to be true. Day in and day out we hear about another animal being added to the endangered species list, another that has gone extinct entirely, and a plethora of scientific studies that say we have been underestimating the impact of the climate crisis on our environment.

    Additionally, we cannot ignore the recent flooding events that we have seen in our local region and throughout the provinces of Ontario, Quebec, and New Brunswick, as they have prompted declarations of emergency throughout these provinces. This type of news seems to come up incredibly often, always increasing in regularity and in the severity of rhetoric, implicating our societies and their inability to effectively act on this issue.

    While our situation on earth appears to be reaching its final turning point before we are guaranteed a harsh fallout as a direct result of the ever-worsening climate crisis, this reality has seemingly struck a chord with a large swath of the general population, especially young people. Across Canada, the United States, and beyond, we have seen countless school walkouts, organized demonstrations, and even attempts at lobbying elected officials by high school and university students in an act to raise awareness for and force institutional action to address the climate crisis – something that has never been seen before on this scale.

    That is what makes me so excited about working with the Environmental Sustainability Research Centre here at Brock University, because I think young people are in an ideal position to bring about institutional change within their schools, their public institutions, and their governments to combat the climate crisis head on unlike ever before. I believe that the ESRC is in a unique position within this fight, as they possess the ability to organize events and influence individual decisions to live more sustainably, while also having the institutional, national, and even international connections to have a broader impact on large scale sustainability efforts. This means that they can affect not only individual actions, but our collective action and discourse regarding environmental sustainability and climate change.

    Regarding their individual and community impact, on International Women’s Day this past year, the ESRC, in collaboration with Facilities Management, hosted a Women in Sustainability panel event. The event touched on both the barriers that women in environmental sustainability face today as well as the amazing contributions they have and will continue to make in the field of environmental sustainability and in the fight against climate change.

    On an institutional level, the ESRC was instrumental in securing $7.9 million in funding from the Ontario government through the Greenhouse Gas Campus Retrofits Program to replace Brock’s co-generation engines that produce electricity and provide heating and cooling on campus. The replacement engines will reduce Brock’s annual nitrogen oxide gas emissions from 55 tonnes to just 8 tonnes and will consume 26% less fuel.

    I hope that through my time with the ESRC I am able to further engage my peers in issues of environmental sustainability and the fight against climate change, while also highlighting and contributing to the efforts that the ESRC makes on an institutional level at Brock, as well as on the national stage, to reduce harmful emissions, alter our wasteful practices, and ultimately shift our national discourse on the environment and climate change.

    It’s clear that the climate emergency has motivated a generation, and I believe that we must channel that energy into productive initiatives that will bring about the change that we as young people hope to see in the world. This isn’t simply a personal goal, it’s an international imperative, as our future truly does depend on our ability to act, and act quickly.

    Categories: Student Contributor, Sustainability at Brock

  • Community BBQ in Jubilee Court

    Brock Farmers' Market

    Blog Contributor: Noah Nickel

    Want to take a break from a busy day and enjoy your lunch break with great weather and some great barbecue? The Brock Community BBQ at Jubilee Court is the perfect spot to do that!

    Every summer, Brock holds a Community BBQ from 11:30 am to 1:30 pm every Thursday in Jubilee Court. The fresh BBQ offerings differ every week, so all attendees have a different experience every Thursday.

    The Community BBQ is a great way to build and grow community at Brock. Students, faculty and staff are welcome to enjoy the summer weather at Jubilee Court. Brock prides itself in buying local whenever possible, especially for raw materials required for the cafeterias around campus. The Community BBQ is an added opportunity for the Brock body to help with this cause, while enjoying lunch in the sun!

    Directions to Jubilee Court can be found using Brock’s interactive map.

    Categories: Student Contributor, Sustainability at Brock

  • NOTL Banning Single Use Plastics

    Blog Contributor: Noah Nickel

    Photo by Danielle MacInnes on Unsplash

    A few weeks ago, the Niagara-on-the-Lake Town Council voted to ban single-use plastics from their town facilities. While this is a newer trend in the Niagara Region, it simply can’t be ignored. This ground breaking decision to come from a sleepy farm town like Niagara-on-the-Lake speaks to how the lived impacts of the climate emergency are reaching people where they are at, wherever that may be, and how its sparking real institutional change.

    The increasing regularity of flooding is one of the key reasons cited by town councillor Norm Arsenault as to why he brought this motion forward. Having lived in the Niagara Region my entire, albeit short, life, I had not once seen any considerable long-term flooding since I could remember. However, now just within the last 3 years, we have had two seasons of record high water levels in Lake Ontario, resulting in weeks-long floods. This flooding has not been without consequence either, as many lakefront properties and public spaces such as Lakeside Park, for example, have not been able to open for the summer season on schedule, to the detriment of thousands of St. Catharines and Niagara residents.

    While perhaps it may seem too abstract to some, as the correlation between rising water levels and banning single-use plastics may seem extraneous at best, the fact of the matter is that due to the scale of the climate crisis as we see it today, any and all institutional actions that reduce waste, encourage and facilitate greater levels of recycling, and commit to using renewable and low carbon energy sources are all great examples of the bold institutional initiatives that need to be implemented if we want to change course for the better.

    As Councillor Arsenault noted in his report on single use plastics, an estimated 4,000 plastic bags and about 20,000 plastic straws are used daily in Niagara-on-the-Lake, which should not be taken lightly. While a ban of single-use plastics at town facilities won’t eliminate this waste entirely, it is a crucial first step in changing the conversation and culture around single-use plastics amongst residents and tourists; this is why this type of change is so important.

    If there is any hope of changing the course of our climate emergency for the better, we will have to attempt to change our institutions from within in order to truly impact the communal, national, and international conversation on climate change, and this decision is a great example of that. Similarly, the recent announcement by the federal government to commit to similarly banning single use plastics on a federal level by as early as 2021 is another great example of this, albeit on a national scale.

    While attempting to live a more sustainable life as an individual is a worthwhile thing to do, it is essentially like putting the cart before the horse. This is because not only is making any and all drastic lifestyle changes as a lone actor incredibly difficult, it will not have the cultural or environmental effect that we need it to in order to spark greater action on this issue.

    However, when we are able to change our governments, our laws, our public spaces, and business practices to make more sustainable choices and to promote sustainability, this has a knock-on effect on our culture – and thus the lives of individual people – as we can focus the community, national, and international conversation on the climate crisis, and how we as individuals can do our part by leading more sustainable lives.

    In other words, we can’t only be the change that we want to see in the world, we have to fight for it, too.

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    Categories: Student Contributor, Sustainability