The Work and Climate Change Report is a monthly online publication which alerts and informs academics, practitioners and students about important new research and legislation from Canada and around the world. WCR is published by the Work in a Warming World Research Programme, York University.
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This report published in YFile 05.11.2013
The first annual York University Sustainability Report was released today. The report is a newly amalgamated report consisting of the President’s Sustainability Council (PSC) Annual Report, which has been compiled yearly since 2010, and a new Environmental Sustainability Report from York’s Campus Services & Business Operations (CSBO) Department.
Covering the period from May 2012 to April 2013, the report summarizes progress on recommendations the PSC has made to the University’s president over the past three years, including several new recommendations advanced by the working groups of the council over the past year. For the first time this year, CSBO’s annual Environmental Sustainability Report is also included. The Environmental Sustainability Report covers operational sustainability indicators such as energy usage, waste diversion and several other indicators of sustainability that are tracked by CSBO on an ongoing basis.
“I am very pleased to share this report with the University community,” said York University President and Vice-Chancellor Mamdouh Shoukri. “York University is committed to being one of the leading institutions in Canada on sustainability, and the new annual report highlights the significant progress we have made, including being named one of Canada’s Greenest Employers for 2013.”
The report also highlights a number of new recommendations that form the core of the University’s sustainability plans, including new proposed initiatives in energy conservation, woodlot management, waste management, community engagement, and a farmers’ market piloted on the Keele campus this fall.
“We are very encouraged by the positive results we are seeing on sustainability here at York,” said Professor Ilan Kapoor, chair of the PSC. “The new annual report will help us communicate this progress to the broader York community, and we also hope it will encourage others to get involved in sustainability initiatives on our campuses.”
Consisting of students, faculty and staff, the PSC is an advisory body to the president with responsibility for providing input and recommendations on how to advance York University’s sustainability initiatives, projects, and practices and to provide oversight of the required actions from approved recommendations. CSBO oversees a variety of sustainability programs on both campuses, including energy conservation, transportation, and waste management initiatives.
The following appeared in the Friday, October 25, 2013 edition of Y-File:
Brian Czech, champion of a steady-state economy, will give the keynote address Nov. 1 at an upcoming conference at York on sustaining a green economy.
Czech will argue for alternatives to a growth-based economy, the subject of his latest book,Supply Shock: Economic Growth at the Crossroads and the Steady State Solution. His is delivering the keynote at the biennial conference of the Canadian Society for Ecological Economics (CANSEE). The conference theme is Sustaining the Commons: Ideas and Actions for a Green Economy. Academics, policy makers, practitioners and activists from across traditional disciplines are expected to attend the conference Oct. 31 to Nov. 2 at Keele campus.
Czech is founding president of CANSEE, a chapter of the International Society for Ecological Economic, a not-for-profit organization dedicated to advancing understanding of the relationships among ecological, social and economic systems for the mutual well-being of nature and people.
He earned a PhD in renewable natural resources studies from the University of Arizona with a minor in political science, and teaches ecological economics at Virginia Tech. A prolific writer about sustainable economics, he is also the author of Shoveling Fuel for a Runaway Train, which calls for an end to uneconomic growth, and The Endangered Species Act: History, Conservation Biology, and Public Policy.
The opening plenary, Ecological Economics, Degrowth and Denial: The Role of Social Engineering, will feature William Rees, co-developer of ecological footprint analysis. Other plenaries will discuss the business case for sustainability and economics for a flourishing Earth. There will be a panel discussion on societal uptake of green fiscal measures, focusing on the Canadian experience with environmental taxes and incentives, and policies for environmental sustainability.
Speakers will give presentations on topics such as Canadian energy and climate policy, complexity science, limits to growth, green indicators, systems thinking and urban sustainability.
York faculty participating at the conference include environmental studies professors Peter Victor, author of Managing without Growth. Slower by Design, not Disaster; Ellie Perkins, whose research focuses on feminist ecological economics, climate justice and community environmental education; and Christina Hoicka, an expert in sustainable energy economics.
The event is sponsored by York’s Faculty of Environmental Studies, the David Suzuki and Ivey foundations, Green Analytics and BlueGreen Canada. It is funded by a grant from the Social Sciences & Humanities Research Council of Canada.
The following appeared in the September 25th, 2013 edition of YFile.
Do you have an opinion about online education or experiential learning? A burning question about differentiation or credit transfer? This year's town hall is an opportunity to bring together York University faculty, staff, and students to discuss the rapidly changing post-secondary education sector and its impact on the University.
How do we drive innovation and strengthen the quality of education in an increasingly budget-constrained environment? How can we remain competitive in a globalized context? Join York University's President and Vice-Chancellor Mamdouh Shoukri and members of the senior executive team for this interactive dialogue.
York President & Vice-Chancellor Mamdouh Shoukri
The town hall will take place Wednesday, Oct. 2, from 11am into the noon hour, in the Tribute Communities Recital Hall, main floor, Accolade East Building, Keele campus. All students, faculty and staff are welcome.
This year's town hall derives its focus from the five topics put forward in the summer working group roundtables hosted by the Province of Ontario, which are graduate placement, online education, differentiation, graduate education and credit transfer.
Joining the president for the town hall will be Gary Brewer, vice-president finance & administration, and Rhonda Lenton, vice-president academic & provost.
Can’t attend in person? There is more than one way to participate. The town hall will be available to watch via webcast at The President’s Town Hall website and questions can be sent in advance to the website. You can also submit your questions via Twitter using the hashtag #YUTownHall.
The following appeared in the July 31st, 2013 edition of Y-File:
As part of Ontario’s plan to build a stronger economy, create new jobs and promote innovative ways to protect the environment, the province has honoured six organizations – including York University – with the 2012 Minister’s Award for Environmental Excellence, for making outstanding contributions to the environmental stewardship of the Great Lakes.
“Today we celebrate just a few of the most outstanding efforts of individuals, groups and companies in protecting the environment,” said Ontario Minister of the Environment Jim Bradley at the awards presentation Tuesday at Queen’s Park. “I hope the examples we see today will inspire others to be innovators in protecting the environment.”
Back row, from left: Bryan Gilvesy, Y U Ranch; Mamdouh Shoukri and Pavel Graymason, York University. Middle row: Cathy Gilvesy, Y U Ranch; Cynthia Lee, Toronto Zoo; Geoff Peach and Pamela Scharfe, Lake Huron Centre for Coastal Conservation. Front row: Elizabeth Simpson and Adrienne Mason, Pine River Watershed Initiative Network; Minister Jim Bradley; Kim Timmer and Brian Friesen, CleanFARMS
York was recognized for its Res Race to Zero competition, in which students and faculty reduced their energy use in several student residence buildings by 30 per cent in the past three years. The program uses a number of approaches for getting students to participate, including social media, and a weekly web posting that charts energy use. What started as a friendly competition between the Keele and Glendon campus residences is now a way of life for students and faculty across the university – and it’s all part of the school’s five-year plan to reduce energy use across the board. The program raised awareness, saved money, reduced demand on Ontario’s power grid and helped reduce air pollution.
Mamdouh Shoukri and Pavel Graymason accepting the award from Minister Jim Bradley
“We at York are very proud to receive this award for environmental excellence from the Minister, which recognizes the University as a leader in sustainability,” said York University President and Vice-Chancellor Mamdouh Shoukri. “I would like to acknowledge our dedicated community of environmental ambassadors and innovators – the many York staff, students, faculty and alumni who are leading by example and driving our greening efforts across campus. The Res Race to Zero is an outstanding program that takes a community-driven approach to sustainability and exemplifies York’s mission to create local solutions with a global impact.”
The other recipients of this year’s award included CleanFARMS (Toronto), Lake Huron Centre for Coastal Conservation (Goderich), Pine River Watershed Initiative Network (Ripley), Toronto Zoo and Y U Ranch (Tillsonburg).
To see more of York’s environmental initiatives, click here.
With files from the Ontario Ministry of the Environment.
The following appeared in the April 22 edition of YFile.
York University has been named one of Canada’s Greenest Employers in an announcement released today by Mediacorp Canada Inc.
The University was named along with 54 other organizations in a competition organized by the editors of Canada’s Top 100 Employers project.
“This award recognizes the incredible efforts of York students, faculty and staff who take action every day to raise awareness and reduce our impact on the environment,” says York President and Vice-Chancellor Mamdouh Shoukri. “We have made significant strides to date and will continue to lead by example in achieving results that make a meaningful difference.”
The green roofs on the Petrie Science & Engineering Building and the Lassonde Building are a big part of sustainability initiatives underway at York University
Employers were evaluated and ranked on their unique environmental initiatives and programs, success in reducing environmental footprints and employee involvement in sustainability efforts. The Canada’s Greenest Employers distinction specifically recognizes York University for creating the President’s Sustainability Council, its Green Office and Sustainability Ambassador programs, and the “Res Race to Zero” competition in which student residences across campus attempt to reduce energy consumption.
Other notable accomplishments include the following:
York University has invested $40 million in its Energy Management Program reducing energy usage by 25 per cent. In real terms, the energy savings over the course of the program equal 100 million kilowatt hours of electricity, which is enough energy to power the University’s Keele and Glendon campuses for almost an entire year.
York University’s ZeroWaste initiative has been successful in diverting 65 per cent of the University’s waste from landfill
The University’s ZeroWaste initiative provides a comprehensive, multi-faceted approach to waste management that encourages faculty, staff and students to divert waste from landfills through recycling and composting. “‘Tri-bins”, with designated containers for recycling and garbage, are located across both campuses, along with organic digesters and several battery recycling bins. For 2012, the waste diversion rate surpassed 60 per cent, with the University achieving its target diversion rate of 65 per cent by 2013.
Staff in York’s Transportation Services department actively encourages commuting to the University through alternative transportation such as public transit, carpools, bicycling or walking. More than 75 per cent of York University students, faculty and staff use alternative means of transportation to campus according to a survey done in 2012 by Smart Commute North Toronto Vaughan. These results have been achieved through expanded and enhanced bus service (including the creation of the priority busway), improved cycling infrastructure such as bike lanes and secure lock-up areas, carpool programs (in cooperation with Smart Commute) and car share programs (in cooperation with Zipcar). The University also offers a shuttle service between the Glendon and Keele campuses, between the Keele campus and the GO Station, and from the Keele campus to the Village residential community south of the University.
On the academic front, the Faculty of Environmental Studies (FES) at York University was the first of its kind in North America. It was founded in 1968, and remains the largest environmental studies program on the continent with nearly 1,300 graduate and undergraduate students. Through FES and other Faculties, the University offers approximately 350 courses that focus on sustainability and the environment, including the Erivan K. Haub Program in Business and Sustainability at the Schulich School of Business (also one of the first programs of its kind in North America).
The University community uses tri-bins to sort recycling
The University actively encourages research into sustainability and environmental initiatives. The Institute for Research & Innovation in Sustainability (IRIS) was established by York University in 2004 to create an interdisciplinary University-wide research institute that is a focal point for the sustainability-related activities of all 10 Faculties at York. IRIS supports the sustainability related research of York faculty and brings academics together, encouraging interdisciplinary collaboration.
Community involvement in the York University Sustainability Ambassadors Program empowers volunteer leaders (staff, faculty or students) to act as role models, change agents and committed friends of the environment. They assist with the Green Office program, Campus Clean-up Days and other outreach opportunities, and are champions of sustainability within their departments.
The Green Office program at York makes it easy for faculty, staff and students (with office space) to incorporate a wide variety of sustainable practices into the day-to-day operations of work spaces across the University.
Now in its seventh year, employers who make the Canada’s Greenest Employers list have developed exceptional, earth-friendly initiatives and are actively attracting people to their organizations because of their environmental leadership.
York U community members can now include the Canada’s Greenest Employer logo in their e-mail signatures. To do so, save the Canada’s Greenest Employers logo ( English left, French right) to your desktop and then in Lotus Notes, click “more” in the top navigation bar. Select “preferences”, click “signature” and place the computer cursor on the line immediately following your contact information. Click on the “T” icon at the end of your signature and choose “graphic”. Click again to select the image and then click “import”. Click “OK” to save and close the window.
To learn more about York University’s initiatives in sustainability, visit the Sustainability @ YorkU website.
TORONTO, March 25, 2013 – Ontario has failed to prioritize and make a long-term commitment to energy conservation, according to a York University report released today. The report, Electricity Conservation Policy in Ontario: Assessing a System in Progress, part of the Sustainable Energy Initiative Studies in Ontario Electricity Policy Paper Series, is published in the context of the February Speech from the Throne’s acknowledgement that “conservation is the cheapest source of energy.” The report is available at http://sei.info.yorku.ca/files/2013/03/electricity-conservation-policy-ontario.pdf.
“The paper provides a detailed roadmap for turning the province’s renewed focus on energy conservation into reality. By acting on its new commitment, Ontario has the potential to strengthen the sustainability of Ontario’s electricity system and to enhance the energy productivity of Ontario’s economy” said Professor Mark Winfield of the Faculty of Environmental Studies and Co-chair of the Sustainable Energy Initiative (SEI).
The paper highlights overly rigid roles for electricity distribution companies in offering conservation programs; legislation that grants authority but not mandate conservation; and lack of attention and support to build a culture of conservation, as other major barriers to a successful energy conservation strategy.
Rebecca Mallinson, author of the paper and a graduate student in Environmental Studies, makes 20 recommendations, among them that the province’s long-term energy policy objectives, including the pursuit of all cost-effective opportunities for conservation, be set through legislation rather than ministerial directives.
“I hope my recommendations will help policymakers to renew Ontario's commitment to electricity conservation. It only makes sense that our energy policies make conservation a priority because conservation is the best-choice electricity option," said Mallinson.
The Faculty of Environmental Studies Sustainable Energy Initiative (SEI) has been established to build and strengthen the teaching, research and partnerships needed to create new green energy economies in Canada and around the world.
Further information on the initiative is available at http://sei.info.yorku.ca/
The following was published on March 27, 2013 by YFile. W3 is a project affiliated with IRIS.
Work in a Warming World (W3) at York will be one of the recipients of the vast archive of publications and consultants’ reports by the soon-to-be defunct National Round Table on the Environment & the Economy (NRTEE). What Carla Lipsig-Mummé, director of the W3, calls a “treasure trove” of resources that will now survive the NRTEE’s demise.
The federal government is closing the NRTEE March 31 after 25 years of research on the environment and the economy. It was set up as an independent, non-partisan research body reporting to the federal minister of the environment, but also providing advice to the prime minister. Its closure was announced in the spring of 2012.
The NRTEE conducted rigorous research and analysis on issues of sustainable development, convening opinion leaders and experts from across the country to share knowledge and diverse perspectives, stimulate debate, generate ideas and provide solutions.
Its more than 600 reports, policies and consultations will go to W3 – a Social Sciences & Humanities Research Council of Canada-funded research program based at York – as well as to 12 universities, six libraries and government agencies.
“It’s an extraordinary donation,” says Lipsig-Mummé. “There’s no parallel with the work it’s done. It’s simply the best data in the country, and we are both proud and excited to receive it.”
The archive will provide W3 with a rich resource to further its work. It will allow researchers and grad students to track the changes in the government’s research concerns on climate change over more than two decades, analyze the changes in policy focus over the years, summarize the enduring priorities as well as the new priorities, and identify the silences in the archive.
In addition, the NRTEE’s reports over the past five years show a growing worry that Canada is not doing enough to slow the growth of greenhouse gases and that the country is relying on the United States when it is in strategic paralysis, says Lipsig-Mummé. NRTEE sees leadership for Canada within North America, and suggests how that can be made to happen.
The issues the NRTEE tackled had to do with climate, water, energy, biodiversity and governance, and its work included climate change plans, water sustainability and climate prosperity. Some of its most recent publications included “Framing the Future: Embracing the Low-Carbon Economy”, “Reality Check: The State of Climate Progress in Canada”, “Canada’s Opportunity: Adopting Life Cycle Approaches for Sustainable Development”, and “Facing the Elements: Building Business Resilience in a Changing Climate”. All of these publications will be included in the data received by W3.
The data will also include information on environmental fiscal reform, the challenges to creating sustainable cities, greening brownfields in private hands, dealing responsibly with waste and pushing private enterprise to adapt production processes.
The changing importance of environment policy and climate policy in provinces and territories over the past two decades is detailed in the data. The reports point to questions about what young environmentalists are doing, how the government stimulates environmental responsibility and how to measure moving forward.
“It’s the richest data source in the country in terms of historical and present research,” says Lipsig-Mummé.
W3 will soon make the archive accessible for research. To find out more, visit the Work in a Warming World website.
The move to phase out the sale of bottled water on the Keele and Glendon campuses by September 2015 was announced Tuesday. As part of the announcement, York President & Vice-Chancellor Mamdouh Shoukri and Vanessa Hunt, president of the York Federation of Students (YFS), signed a pledge to phase out sales of bottled water on both campuses and improve free access to clean, safe drinking water.
“York University was built on a strong commitment to social responsibility,” said Shoukri. “One of the aspects of this commitment to social responsibility is to ensure that the University continues to be a leader in sustainability and protecting the environment. I am here today to announce York University’s pledge to phase out the sale of bottled water by September 2015.”
Mamdouh Shoukri and Vanessa Hunt sign the pledge on behalf of the University community to phase out the sale of bottled water
Ilan Kapoor, professor of environment studies and the chair of the President’s Sustainability Council, said the move to phase out the sale of bottled water was a significant symbolic act in favour of sustainability. “We really should not be paying for water, which is a basic component of our lives,” he said. “This campus is an autonomous community – we have reasonable control over our ecological footprint and this is a significant step in that direction.”
Kapoor said that while other universities and colleges have banned the sale of disposable bottles of water, the bans have been difficult to implement.
“There needs to be alternatives to bottled water ” he said. “People often turn to sugary, unhealthy drinks and we want to avoid that at York. A phase out will give the University time to install more water refill stations and engage and educate the community so that we are all part of the campaign.”
“In other words, it’s not what you do to be sustainable, it’s how you do it that must be sustainable and that is the approach we have taken,” he said.
York’s president tries out one of the hydration stations
The University has already made significant progress in improving free access to drinking water with the installation of 25 water bottle refill stations on its Keele and Glendon campuses. Another five water fountains have also been converted to all for refill of reusable water bottles. Among the many departments and administrative offices on campus, the Office of the President and the Faculty of Environmental Studies has already voluntarily phased out the purchase of bottled water.
“This campaign is not only about phasing out the sale of bottled water, it also acknowledges that water is a basic human right,” said Hunt. “We need to be sustainable in our practices across this University.”
To mark this occasion, the York University Bookstore is taking 50 per cent off all reusable water bottles until the end of the business day on Friday.
The President’s Sustainability Council and its Campus Operations & Development working group had a number of discussions about phasing out disposable bottles of water on campus with several campus stakeholders, including the YFS, York Food Services, Campus Services & Business Operations, the Office of the President, the Office of the Vice-President Finance & Administration, the Faculty of Environmental Studies and the Institute for Research and Innovation in Sustainability.
To view photographs of the announcement, click here.
The following appeared on March 13, 2012 in YFile.
Planet in Focus and York University present: the Focus on Sustainability Film Festival
Mar 19, 2012, 10am-5pm
Planet in Focus with York University present: Focus on Sustainability Film Festival, an annual event with its premiere theme on water. This entertaining and educating experience features domestic and foreign documentaries, a panel discussion with filmmakers, activists and academics, as well as prizes provided by Mountain Equipment Co-op.
Join us in the York University Senate Chambers from 10am to 5pm. Now only $2 for all-day access!
The films include:
- Water on the Table (http://vimeo.com/14300743)
- White Water, Black Gold (http://vimeo.com/17123122)
- Carbon for Water (http://vimeo.com/30365384)
- The Clean Bin Project (http://vimeo.com/3301133)
This festival is brought to you by the Osgoode Environmental Law Society (ELS), Planet in Focus, The Institute for Research and Innovation in Sustainability (IRIS), and The Climate Consortium for Research Action Integration (CC-RAI). Many thanks to our supporters: The Toronto and Region Conservation Authority (TRCA), Mountain Equipment Co-op (MEC) and The Centre for Human Rights.
|Location:||NR940 York University Senate Chambers|
|Sponsor:||ELS, IRIS, CC-RAI, TRCA, MEC and the Centre for Human Rights|
|Posted by:||The Osgoode Environmental Law Society|