Within the next 50 years, the newly planted seedlings are mature trees which are home to squirrels, chipmunks, a variety of birds and other creatures native to the Southern Ontario Environment. A quick jaunt down a cobblestone path leads either the UW Woodlot or Food Services Vegetable Garden. Winding Laurel Creek is barely visible amidst the tall stalks of natural vegetation and Columbia Lake is no more.
Such environmental characteristics as listed above are but a small part of the larger University of Waterloo campus as a "sustainable" system. Despite skepticism of the reality of sustainability, we have adopted sustainability as a conceptual framework by which to achieve our vision of UW 2045, spring term. This vision encompasses several systems including those of food, water, waste and energy, physical structures, the natural campus environmental and communications within the campus boundaries.
Privatizing campus food services would further promote a sustainable UW campus. In doing so, increased competition among food distributors would force these food companies to engage in more "environmental" practices. for example, reduced packaging, lugger mug giveaways are but a few sustainable business tactics.
All on campus toilets, water taps, and shower heads, including those in all residences will be replaced to provide maximum efficiency. The toilets in 2045, will use little or no water. (Presently, 6-gallon toilets are the most efficient.) Taps and shower heads will be motion activated.
Currently, most UW energy consumption stems from heating heating and cooling systems. New buildings will be built with solar heating, and existing buildings will be converted to incorporate solar heating mechanisms. Similarly, ivy will cover exterior of buildings to act as a natural insulator for both heating and cooling.
Within campus housing buildings, students will be responsible for energy costs through a user-pay system. An increased awareness of energy consumption will result.
Cobblestone paths will be characteristic of the UW campus, replacing the present asphalt walk and roadways. In doing so, the amount of infiltration allowed will increase and the campus albedo will be decreased.
Ring Road will no longer be plagued with cars, buses and trucks. the road will be restricted to UW service vehicles and emergency vehicles, which will operate on efficient fuels such as electricity, propane or perhaps even hydrogen.
The UW natural environment will include the naturalization of Laurel Creek through the allowance of buffer zone growth which will not be cut back as it presently is. Native animals will have free run of the land and the introduced Austrian Pines which are characteristic of the 1995 UW campus will be replaced with a variety of Native Species to ward off disease.
This natural campus environment will be maintained by UW students as part of their mandatory natural campus service degree requirement.
All memos and notices will be posted on the UW Computer Network Bulletin Board discouraging the use of paper signs and notices.
It must be noted however, that we see sustainability not as a final goal but rather a continuing process. Thus, it will never be possible to sit back claiming sustainability has been achieved. Rather, it will always be a continual process of maintaining and adapting under dynamic conditions.