To "sustain" is to keep going at a pace. Hence, to "develop" at a pace indicates marginal change without sporadic, radical alterations within a particular framework that has been laid down; whether that framework be economic, social, political or ecological. In essence, sustainable development is a pattern of societal evolution that does not damage the integrity of its supporting frameworks. The most finite and delicate of these, is of course, the natural world. Nature must be treated with care through sustainable practicies, thus supporting herself and the life within her, for future generations. Alternatively, the most basic of all instincts, those of survival, will tragically become a goal out of reach for all species on earth.
A more sustainable University of Waterloo would have an enforceable administrative Code of Practice for all faculties and service departments. Allowing the need for more sustainable practices to simply emanate from ES students and WPIRG is not satisfactory. Fortunately, U of W provides an ideal setting for the propagation and implementation of more sustainable methods. The campus as a small community provides an excellent opportunity to elicit such change.
Sustainable development is, however, far different than the common societal goals which have been in place since the Industrial Revolution. Mere upward mobility and the rapidity of technological change as two common ideals will each require an ethical change if they are to veer away from present values. We feel that a focus towards sustainability requires the social/political systems on campus to recognize, respect, and work in higher accordance with environmental and ecological processes. This requires the aforementioned Administrative Code of Practice to enforce and promote their consideration in all levels of decision-making, from student to university president.
The identification of common elements which attempt to integrate sustainable practices into managerial considerations is paramount. Questions must be entertained considering such concepts as: What drives or serves as impetus for changing the ways in which decisions are made in a given sector? What management strategies for bringing about shifts in an organization have proved successful? What tools or devices have been useful for implementing new or different strategies? What are the principle barriers to success? Once these questions are answered, the leaders of a community, such as the University of Waterloo, can adopt a Code of Practice. It is vital, in our minds, that this code be implemented at the administrative level considering the fact that the majority of decision making processes and implementation strategies are approved at this level of management. Further, sustainable development in this sense is no longer a management concept, but a management tool.
The adoption of a "sustainable" Code of Practice is essential for the integration of more sustainable practices within the university community. If instilled, many more opportunities will be created. They will eventually culminate into knowledge and experience, and if the practice can be adhered to, can be applied to other outside communities, thus creating more opportunities for a positive evaluation. Initially the adoption will demonstrate, to senior management, support for sustainable actions. It will encourage open and thorough review of existing practices and policies. Upon review, managers and policy makers will be able to identify opportunities to improve current performance of sustainable concept integration, thereby educating and informing employees, students, and other organizations who conduct relationships with the university community. Most importantly, the adoption of a Code of Practice will demonstrate to the public, a commitment to sustainable development thus setting an example for other communities to follow.
Unfortunately, as with the introduction of many new ideas and thinking, the implementation of a Code of Practice for sustainability may encounter barriers acting to retard success. Although good planning and communication may help to avoid many barriers, the application of theory is inevitably difficult in practice. Some barriers to sustainability include: poor consultation, limited funds and resources for implementation and education, linear as opposed to cyclical thinking, opposition and resistance to change, and initially poor performance reviews with respect to efficiency.
Our team at the Campus Transit Authority has developed some useful tools for overcoming these barriers. Part of the Code of Practice emphasizes the need for clear policy objectives and guidelines. These policies can be born from special environmental committees, who may be responsible for the development and introduction of new sustainable policies, and their evaluation. Performance appraisals, incentives, and an increase in the flow of information to other levels within the community, are the responsibility of these committees. Furthermore, and most importantly, there must be some form of monitoring and evaluation. This, in turn, will reflect the progress of implementing sustainable concepts, while mitigating any negative impacts or decisions which may obstruct the enforcement and policies surrounding the Code of Practice.
The Code of Practice, as part of a sustainable solution, must also include principles based on environmental and ecological sustainability. Without a healthy and ecologically functioning environment, the strategies and policies for socio-political infrastructure are deemed void. Life support systems must be protected and maintained through decontamination and waste minimization (preferably none at all). By maintaining or enhancing ecosystem integrity, through the aforementioned Code of Practice, biodiversity will also endure. The Code of Practice encompasses strategies and policies, both preventative and adaptive, and a platform from which to launch an attack on the existing non-sustainable ideology and practice. Thus by responding to smaller community initiatives to achieve sustainability, the threat of global ecological change is thwarted, not just reduced.
To assess the success of the sustainable strategies, outlined in the Code of Practice, specific indicators are required. They must be measured in terms of their efficiency and their effectiveness to identify both positive and negative aspects of new and existing policies. For the purpose of this paper, an exhaustive list of specific indicators shall be avoided. However, some broad examples include: the measurement of resource and energy use, waste output and material types (for recycling purposes), and the degree of self-reliance to which the community adheres. These indicators should act as a monitoring system where deviation from the objectives and strategies, as outlined within the Code of Practice, would meet with steps for mitigation and rehabilitation.
The Code of Practice we propose for implementation at the University of Waterloo defines a set of characteristics for a sustainable society. The community in this respect is the campus, where steps may be taken to illicit special project designs thereby achieving criteria as outlined in the Code of Practice. We propose to test the codes through our Greening the Campus Project, and in this way hope to push the argument for sustainability, through testing, the implications of the Code of Practice as outlined above.
Some of the details of the proposal are as follows:
Kitchener Transit and the Federation of Students of the University of Waterloo enter into an agreement whereby all full-time undergraduate students pay a mandatory incidental fee each term which provides them a pass allowing them to use regular Kitchener Transit services during the term...The Universal Pass Program would come into effect following a student referendum on the proposal.
If the program is implemented for the September 1996 term, the fee will be $35.00 per term for the first year, $40.00 per term the second year and $45.00 per term the third year...
Kitchener Transit agrees to pay all reasonable costs incurred by a referendum on this issue. It is our understanding this amount will approximate $2,000 if the referendum is held in conjunction with other Federation of Students' elections. Kitchener Transit will pay referendum costs subject to a review of expenses satisfactory to Kitchener Transit. Once approval is gained through a referendum, a final agreement will be worked out between Kitchener Transit and the Federation of Students as to the specifics of the agreement.(Kitchener Transit Proposal to the FEDs. Jan.2, 96)
After consideration of the proposal, the Federation of Students turned it down on account of its vagueness in reference to the specifics following the aforementioned quote.
Upon hearing of the rejection of this proposal, our group of five Environment and Resource Studies students of the University Campus Transit Commission (CTC) decided to inquire on why this seemingly excellent idea was excused. The following Feasibility Study outlines the validity of a proposal of this nature and sets out to prove how valuable a Universal Bus Pass is from the environmental, financial, and convenience perspectives of all parties involved.
Science is a field of study depended upon for the operation and understanding of the complex systems of modern humanity; people stock a lot of faith in its plausibility. It has been proven that a number of ecologically harmful greenhouse gasses are emitted in automobile exhaust. Although public transit vehicles also release much of the same effluent, the aggregate gas output of increased transit use is far less than that of excess cars given that so many can ride a bus at once.
Aside from the noise pollution of mass traffic, excess automobiles on the road increase the demand to pursue continued urban expansion--a process with drastic implications for the surrounding ecology of any area of development, let alone Waterloo.
Fundamentally, the environmental ramifications of fossil fuels goes much deeper than air pollution. Degradation occurs in the exploration for, and upon the extraction and mining of fuels. Crop yield reduction, filth, poor visibility, and terror on species' immune and biological systems are just a few of the problems encountered when dealing with finite fossil fuels. Moreover, increased transit usage frees up much of the space used at present for parking. Considering that most of the lots surround the campus core, these zones could be designated as green space and vegetation buffers thus increasing the aesthetic value of the campus and contributing to habitat for species.
Economics act as an integral part of modern ecological concern. The financial benefits for students are worthwhile - a Universal Bus Pass is cheaper than buying passes on a monthly basis. With regard to those who question whether they should have to pay a fee for Universal transit given that they still don't think they will use it, they must consider some essential facts:
- Possession of a car incurs a lot of money. The CAA (1995) estimates that it costs between $5,000 and $7,000 per year to operate a car ($2,000 - 3,000 per term). Despite the increased freedom of a car, to compare these astronomical figures with the forty dollar Bus Pass fee makes for a lot of saved money if the latter is chosen.
- For those without a car, bars will soon be opening until 2:00 am. With the increased revenues from students, it has been considered that transit may extend travel times another two hours, thus reducing excess taxi fares after a night out.
- Fumbling with change and money while intoxicated would be unnecessary - as the WATCARD probably would be the only piece of identification necessary to board the bus.
In all environmental regards the validity of increased transit use becomes blatantly clear. A Universal Bus Pass provides a comprehensive framework by which to encourage wide-scale use of the buses available to the students of the University of Waterloo - a large consumer market.
Through outlining the steps towards a necessary Code of Practice by which the University Administration can adhere, we will do our utmost to instate a referendum on this issue and make UW a sustainable University community.
In respect to actor systems, the CTC feels that the students (and faculty/staff) represent the centre or pivotal point of the systems involved. The students maintain a significant link with each and every other component and actor in the overall system, most notably with Kitchener Transit. This link is the focal relationship as it revolves around the exchange of benefits each component provides the other. The students provide a reliable source of income for Kitchener Transit who in turn are obligated to supply a convenient transportation service.
However, for the students of UW to agree to paying for this service, they need be aware of the scope of the issue and the degrees to which the proposal affects them. The FEDS, through feedback from the CTC, can provide the student body with this information by means of publication (eg. the Imprint). The CTC will obtain student opinion through a survey designed to capture the student perception of transportation on campus. The aim for FEDS, as representatives of the students on a negotiative level with Kitchener Transit, is to gain this feedback to determine whether a referendum should take place. The information provided by the CTC will also act as justification to the UW administration for the rejection or acceptance of Kitchener Transit's proposal.
Air pollution is one of the most obvious impacts that fossil fuel powered engines have on the environment. Between 60 to 90% of urban air pollution results from transportation (http://nesea.nrel.gov/nesea.html#aee). Some typical percentages of specific air pollutants originating from transportation are:
* 30% of carbon dioxide emissions
* 76% of carbon monoxide emissions
* 41% of nitrous oxide emissions
* 38% of hydrocarbons emissions
* 25% of CFC emissions
Some implications of these gases include adding to earth's greenhouse effect, creating smog and acid rain, crop destruction, and destruction of the ozone layer in the outer atmosphere. In the United States, the American Lung Association named air pollution as the number one threat to Americans (http://nesea.nrel.gov/nesea.html#aee). Since the amount of air pollution is directly related to the amount quantity of fuel burned there is a great potential to reduce emissions and the resulting impacts by switching to public transportation systems and away from inefficient personal auto use.
The gains of deviating from utilizing personal transit are much more widespread than just reducing air pollution. Lowering our fossil fuel needs would decrease the degradation that necessarily occurs during the exploration and extraction of fuels. Many fuel sources today are in sensitive or remote areas (http://www. dep.state.fl.us/rules/auto.html). Transporting the unprocessed fuels is also a problem due to the possibility of tankers spilling or pipes leaking. Eliminating cars in urban settings creates other benefits too. Parking lots could be eliminated, freeing up areas that could become parks or regenerated natural areas. Traffic congestion would also be abolished along with the need for expanding current roads and transportation infrastructure. Roads and parking lots are areas with impervious surfaces that do not hold water like natural systems and therefore affect water flows in nearby rivers. They also disturb wildlife and act as a barrier to animal movement. In addition, construction of these structures causes erosion and sedimentation in waterways.
The combination of transportation issues and economics is commonly referred to as Transportation and Logistics. However, when dealing with a public service such as that provided by Kitchener Transit, the incredibly wide scope of this field can be narrowed down. Economists in this discipline aim to develop analytical solutions to urban transit problems through the study of topics like public and business policy, pricing strategies, productivity analysis, cost-benefit analysis, location decisions (for activity centres such as the Kitchener Transportation Centre), fleet planning and modeling, routing and scheduling, socio-demographic trends and the analysis of alternative transportation modes.
These last two issues are of significant importance for the CTC's study. Income levels, education, age and other socio-economic indicators are some of the basic but key factors governing the decisions of a firm such as Kitchener Transit. Kitchener Transit needs to know what section and proportion of its potential customers can be most effectively and efficiently targeted for increased services and benefits. In this case study, the students of UW have been targeted as most fall in a socio-economic bracket that relies on subsidized services and businesses. Alternative transportation modes or sub-markets to urban transit also play a significant role the economics of a scheme such as the one proposed by Kitchener Transit. Most students do not have a car at their disposal so are forced to rely on other methods of transport. It is therefore imperative that Kitchener Transit be aware of the proportion of those who walk and bicycle. As well, the number of personal drivers must also be assessed, and hence what costs and benefits are derived from these alternatives.
There are other "hidden" costs incurred on a more national level than perhaps the ones noted above. Health care costs in a systems such as this can be exuberant. In the US alone, 93 billion dollars a year are spent on emission-related illnesses. Lost productivity due to traffic congestion accounts for 73 billion dollars a year in the US. Traffic accidents and fatalities in the US cost 72 billion dollars a year, while the protection of oil by the US in the Middle East incur a loss of 12 billion dollars a year. (Gordon, 1991)
Student Survey and Data Generation
Last Modified: 12-04-96