Sustainability at the University of Waterloo

What Does Sustainability Mean On Campus?

As we take a few moments to answer the question of what the University of Waterloo would look like as a sustainable campus, many thoughts come to our minds. How do we address the issue of a completely sustainable UW? There are, afterall, many components to a sustainable system, whether the system be based on a community, an entire country, or even the world. For the purposes of this assignment, the UW campus will be treated as a community within itself, which has all of the components of a city.

Future imaging and the process of visioning are fundamental tools used in the creation of sustainable communities ("ERS 100 Course Notes", n.d., 81). When used at the outset of sustainable community planning, these tools can narrow a group's focus, thereby achieving a set of realistic guidelines by which a sustainable community should be run. We found the visioning process highly useful in selecting those characteristics which we feel are the most important for creating a sustainable campus community. The attributes we consider to be important when creating a sustainable community will be used as a basis for turning the unsustainable UW community of now into the sustainable UW community of tomorrow.

University of Waterloo Sustainable Community Requirements

The outcome of our visioning excercise presented us with a virtual picture of a sustainable university community. This community, once realized, would be one which is based on the following attributes:

  1. The population of the UWSC should operate in a sustainable manner within natural systems of the land on which it resides.
  2. The UWSC must use a holistic approach when interacting with the natural environment whether it be air, land, water, or biota.
  3. The UWSC will use renewable resources and minimize, if not eliminate, the use of non-renewable resources.
  4. A decentralized decision making process uses ecological and ethical criteria throughout all business, political, and administrative decisions.
  5. The members of the UWSC will respect, celebrate, and value the socio-cultural diversity of each other.
  6. The UWSC will empower its members through education on environmental, economic, and social issues.

How will we know when UW has met these requirements?

Our UW of the future will look and function in a dramatically different way than it does now. The following are examples which demonstrate the realization of the above requirements, when attempting to create a sustainable campus community:

1. The population of the UWSC should operate in a sustainable manner within the natural systems of the land on which it resides.

2. The UWSC must use a holistic approach when interacting with the natural environment whether it be air, land, water, or biota.

3. The UWSC will use renewable resources and minimize, if not eliminate, the use of non-renewable resources.

4. A decentralized decision making process uses ecological and ethical criteria throughout all business, political, and administrative decisions.

5. The members of the UWSC will respect, celebrate, and value the socio-cultural diversity of each other.

6. The UWSC will empower its members through education on environmental, economic, and social issues.

Conclusion

The future UW campus will "...meet present needs without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs" (Crombie, 1992, p.39). The needs will include systems such as environmental, economical, and social. Figure 1 depicts such a community that incorporates all the needs sustainably.

References

Crombie, D. (1992). Regeneration: Toronto's Waterfront and the Sustainable City: Final Report. Toronto: Queens Printer of Ontario.

Green on the Grand. (n.d.). Kitchener, ON: Enermodal Engineering.

Raven, P., & Berg, L. et al. (1993). Environment. New York: Saunders College Publishing, No author. (n.d.).

ERS 100 Course Notes. Waterloo, ON: University of Waterloo, Graphic Services.

Last Update Aril11, 1997 jw