This report is the continuation of a previously initiated project, which resulted in the designation of a more environmentally sustainable residence, or ecopod, within the Columbia Lake Townhouses of the University of Waterloo. Though this ecopod will commence in the fall of 2003, no marketing plan for it exists. Satisfying this need is the focus of our study. A good marketing concept is an all consuming process which determines what the consumer wants and needs, then provides it. Therefore, our goal was to determine the mediums through which most incoming students gained information on residences, how many students would be interested in living in a an environmental residence, and how we could market the ecopod effectively. The research question that we sought to answer was, "how can we market the CLT ecopod to encourage environmentally conscious individuals to want to live there?"

The methods used to obtain our research objectives included focus group discussions with the University of Guelph eco house residents in order to gain an understanding of the strengths and weaknesses of how their eco residence functions so that we may make educated recommendations on what should be implemented in the CLT ecopod. High school surveys were done in order to understand the needs and expectations of potential ecopod residents. Secondary research included literature reviews of marketing texts and similar projects which have been previously implemented.

Based on the results of our research methods we have postulated eight recommendations. These include:




The Faculty of Environmental Studies at the University of Waterloo offers the opportunity for students to learn more about the environment and how to properly take care of it in order to create a more sustainable world. The Environment and Resource Studies program provides students with the opportunity to apply concepts and approaches that have been learned in the classroom to real problems that may be found on campus and beyond. Projects can be carried out by students for academic and personal interest in co-operation with WATgreen. WATgreen is a University based program that was formed to help promote environmentally friendly practices on campus. This program has benefited students, staff, and faculty members in many different ways. It gives students an opportunity to learn more about environmental issues while receiving a course credit. It helps mobilize campus resources to discover cost-effective solutions for dealing with environmental concerns and new environmental regulations. WATgreen also acts as a forum for all members of the University community to make a positive contribution to the resolution of environmental issues facing UW (WATgreen, 2001).

In July of 2001 a WATgreen project was completed which identified the feasibility of retrofitting a group of units in the Columbia Lake Townhouses (CLT) to be more environmentally sustainable. A decision was made to designate this group of units as an ecopod, which was given the name of Kaizen. The fall of 2003 is the date this program will be implemented.

The focus of our study was to put a marketing strategy into place so that students intending to live in a residence at the University of Waterloo can receive the information that they need to make their decision. Before any marketing strategy was created research was done in order to determine what the level of interest for an environmental residence would be, how incoming students obtain information on residences, and what students would expect in an environmental residence.


3.1 WATgreen and the University of Waterloo

WATgreen program is an excellent program that offers students, staff, and faculty members the opportunity to create a more sustainable campus. Its goal is to "Green the Campus" while reducing the operating costs of the University.

WATgreen projects have researched environmentally friendly buildings, building materials and the possibility for eco villages on campus. Some of these projects have looked into the feasibility of incorporating environmentally friendly building materials into new and existing buildings. Two more recent studies have looked at the possibility of having an eco village on campus. The first one which was entitled, "Preliminary Feasibility Study For an Eco village on the UW Campus", looked at the idea of carrying out sustainable practices within an entire residence facility. The second one, which was entitled "An Investigation of the Feasibility of Retrofitting a CLT Pod" studied the feasibility of retrofitting an existing residence pod at the CLT where the residents of these townhouses would incorporate sustainable practices into their daily activities. This project provided recommendations for implementation, which were accepted by all relevant parties on campus. Our research project is designed to take the next step toward making Kaizen a reality. It is obvious from the sustainable initiatives that have been taken around campus, that WATgreen is a highly recognized organization that is increasing it’s success with every project that is completed.


    1. Background of CLT Marketing

Currently, no marketing exists for the proposed CLT Ecopod, therefore identifying the need for our research. However, limited marketing does exist for the Columbia Lake Townhouses on the Housing Department Website and through residence literature in the residence package that is distributed to potential first year students.

The internet marketing includes a link to the Columbia Lake Townhouses and provides basic information about the facilities such as layouts of the house and bedroom and other amenities that are also included in residence fees (e.g. central laundry facilities and local telephone servicing).

The information presented in the residence package is limited, and pictures of the units are generally limited to photographs of the exterior of the homes. This information has been compiled with that of all the other campus residences and is not distinctly marketed in competition with other residences.

Kaizen will be the first "themed" residence on the University of Waterloo Campus, besides the church-affiliated colleges/residences. This unique distinction in itself will market Kaizen differently from the other residences. However, the approach to this marketing must be carefully determined and is further discussed in this project paper.


  2. It was in the 1960s when it was realized that human activities were exceeding the earths ability to provide the resources humans demanded and deal with the wastes that were being produced. Before this period it seemed as if the atmosphere was too large, the oceans too deep, and the forests too plentiful for human actions to have any significant impact on them. Global environmental problems such as climate change, acid rain, and a hole in the ozone layer changed that way of thinking to one which had a stronger consideration for the environment (Akuoko-Asibey). With this new found knowledge it became obvious that everyday living practices had to be changed in order to make a healthy earth available for future generations.

    The fundamental goal of this project is to promote sustainable living among students at the University of Waterloo. The previous project made a set of recommendations for changes to the structure of the townhouses which will hopefully be carried out in the future. It is anticipated that the CLT ecopod will act as an example to other building on campus and beyond with its environmental changes and additions.

    In addition to improving the physical aspects of the Ecopod, a goal is to also develop a new sense of community within this distinct residence. A strong sense of community is an aspect that will be greatly emphasized as students with similar interests in the environment will be living together. The Ecopod will act of as an establishment where ideas will be fostered among residents. Kaizen will be an educational tool for ecopod residents, UW students and staff, and people of the community. Our research looked at how we could market the ecopod effectively to environmentally conscious students who would want to live in an environmentally friendly residence.

  4. The fall of 2003 is the first year that the program of the ecopod will be in affect and when students will have the option of living in an environmentally friendly residence. Even though this date is approaching quickly, there is currently no marketing plan designed to promote and advertise these units. As a result, we feel that our research has been important as it addresses the absence of a marketing strategy for the Columbia Lake Townhouse ecopod.


  6. The purpose of this study was to examine how we could properly market the Columbia Lake Townhouse ecopod effectively to high school students who are planning on living in a residence at the University of Waterloo. Our goal was to determine the mediums through which most incoming students gained information on residences, how many students would be interested in living in a an environmental residence, and how we could market the ecopod effectively. We achieved this approach by using qualitative and quantitative analysis.

  8. The research question we addressed was, how can we market the CLT ecopod to encourage environmentally conscious individuals to want to live there?



We have examined all relevant aspects of marketing the Columbia Lake Townhouse Ecopod, to determine the best strategy for marketing this "new" residence towards our target market of Environmentally conscious first year students. Our research is in a relatively new area for both the University as well as the greater community. There is much marketing literature on ‘how to market green products’, though this is directed toward those items that can be purchased off a shelf instead of programs like Kaizen.

The area of environmental education is very new, and the concept of environmental University-based housing is even newer. Other Universities that have pioneered in this area lack the advertising that we believe is needed to attract our target group and make Kaizen well known within the University and the greater community. Since our specific direction of interest is unprecedented, we utilized an appropriate conceptual framework - the ecosystem approach - to gather our information and derive useful conclusions. This is the same framework utilized by the group that initially proposed Kaizen. This analytical system worked well in executing their project. The following is a description of the ecosystem approach, provided by the Kaizen pilot project:

"The ecosystem approach to conceptual analysis requires the examination of all actors and elements of a phenomenon; social, political, financial and physical components must be investigated and related so to garner a thorough understanding of the situation".

In our marketing study we examined the social, political and physical aspects of the marketing of the CLT Ecopod, and the financial aspects were taken into account in our recommendations for marketing tools. According to Stephen Murphy, the ecosystem approach is most effective because of its "bottom-up methodology that allows for all components of a system to be identified and then linked in a progressively complex manner" (Murphy, p40-41). The ecological framework works well in determining an appropriate marketing strategy as "Marketing…cannot be reduced to concrete activities; rather it is an all-consuming process. The marketing concept involves the entire business process. It is, in essence, determining what the consumer wants, then providing it" (The Nature of Direct Marketing, p.10).


Variables Components Research Methods



Orientation Kit

Physical Pamphlet Secondary Research



Interest Focus Groups

Social Educational Awareness

Importance of Community




Political Administration



Figure #1 — Conceptual Framework


The factor that first had to be considered was the social aspect of our marketing strategy. This included the identification of our target group. This was determined by OAC high school students who were surveyed on their interests in living in an eco-residence, their educational awareness, as well as their perceptions of the importance of community to them as individuals. The focus groups and secondary research helped us to determine the types of questions that need to be asked to the potential students, based on what was important to the individuals in the focus groups as well as the information gathered through secondary sources regarding common values in environmentally-based residences.

Once these variables were determined, the physical aspects of our research came into play — the marketing tools required to effectively direct information toward the appropriate group. The need for the orientation kit, pamphlet and website were determined through our surveys and focus groups, and the way in which these should be distributed was also determined in this manner. The actual design ideas were obtained through information learned from the surveys and secondary research from marketing texts.

Finally, the political aspect of our research was the administration required for the marketing for the CLT Ecopod. The information on a feasible admissions process was examined through the personal interview and focus group methods — as was the act of choosing an appropriate Don. The distribution of pamphlets would be an action taken by the housing administration, and would be suggested through a process of recommendations developed from all research methods present in Figure #1.

Table #1 provides a description of the various stakeholders and their individual roles and interests in the marketing of Kaizen.


Our market includes potential first year university students that plan to live in residence at the University of Waterloo in the year 2003. The criterion for this group is based on the admission policies of the University of Waterloo. Further, we have identified our target market as environmentally conscious first year students, as we assume that it is this type of individual that will make Kaizen successful in its implementation. We have developed the following psychographic profile for our target market:



10.1 Scope

In order to ascertain the boundaries of this study, the target group must first be defined. For the year 2003, the University of Waterloo will be accepting only first year students in the Columbia Lake Townhouses. Therefore, the individuals within the scope of our study include only potential first year students.

Since the University of Waterloo accepts and houses international students, the geographical boundaries, in theory, are worldwide. This geographical boundary however, includes a wide or universal sampling frame. However, due to temporal and financial restraints our geographical boundary was reduced to a smaller sampling frame. This smaller sampling frame or population was potential first year students in Ontario. The sampling frame was reduced to the province of Ontario because a majority of the potential students come from within that region. Therefore, although our sampling frame is not entirely representative from a geographical standpoint, it does account for the majority of the target group.

From within the target group, the unit of analysis was determined. Based on limitations that will be discussed below and the aforementioned representativeness of Ontario students, the units of analysis were OAC (Ontario Academic Credit) English students. The opinions of the current OAC students were then applied to what OAC and grade 12 students would think of an environmental residence in the year 2003. Although there will be a time lag in the findings, it was determined that this was not of concern to the validity of the study. It is assumed that during the coarse of a year there will be little to no change in high school students opinions on environmental residences.


10.2 Limitations

All research studies experience some form of limitations that in some way inhibit their success in terms of representativeness and inclusiveness. The limitations that were evident in our study were time, money, and policy. These limitations will now be discussed with regard to the methods used in our study, which were focus groups, interviews, surveys, and secondary literature.

The focus groups took place at the University of Guelph and included the residents of the Eco-house. Although these focus groups were significant in coming to our conclusions and recommendations, there were certain limitations that may have inhibited more conclusive results. After visiting Guelph’s eco-house we found that although it was environmentally based, there were a number of differences in how it is run and what is implemented when compared to Kaizen. Although this may not have been a major limitation it could have been more useful if we conducted focus groups with more eco-residents, such as the ones at McGill University. Therefore, time and money were a limitation in regards to the focus groups. Other limitations relating to the focus groups were volunteer bias, and possible censoring of information. The residents that took part in our focus groups had shown interest in our study and therefore volunteered to participate. This can be viewed as a limitation because there may not have been proper representation. In addition, the focus group discussions were held on a Tuesday evening, which was not their usual meeting time. Therefore the turnout was less than we had anticipated . This may have resulted in the extreme environmental attitudes that were noticed of the participants. Another limitation affecting the focus group findings was that in one focus group, the Residence Life Coordinator (RLC) was present. The presence of the RLC, being an authority figure, may have caused the residents to censor their responses. Although these factors were limitations in our focus group methods they were not thought to be significant.

While conducting the focus groups we also interviewed the Don and the RLC of the Guelph eco-house. The only limitations in relation to the interviews were again time and money. If given the opportunity to interview more individuals with knowledge of environmental residences our findings again may have been more conclusive. We would have also found it helpful to interview someone from the housing administration of the University of Waterloo. However, due to time constraints we were unable to. Therefore, the main limitation of our interview methods was time.

Another method that was used in our study was surveys. We surveyed approximately 120 OAC English students about their attitudes concerning environmental residences. The limitations that we encountered with this method were time and school policies. We were unable to survey the students at the Durham School Board due to a lengthy ethics approval process, and the students at the Scarborough School Board for unspecified reasons. If more time was available we may have been able to contact more schools, however, this was not a major limitation. The structure or wording of the surveys themselves was also a limitation. Due to the wording of the survey we were unable to receive the conclusive data we had anticipated.

In our reviewing secondary literature we only came across one limitation, which was time. If given more time we could have produced more in depth and thorough analysis of secondary literature.

Other limitations that inhibited this research study were the researchers assumptions and biases. During the coarse of this project certain assumptions were made that may have affected our research. We assumed that by marketing Kaizen effectively, it would assist in attracting a more diverse group of residents. This assumption was based on the correlation made between the Guelph eco-house’s lack of diversity and the absence of sufficient marketing. Another assumption that was made was that the OAC students and the Guelph eco-house residents would have been representative of either all OAC students or all environmental residents. This assumption may have affected the generalizability of our results. Another assumption the group made was that the Guelph residence application process could apply to the UW residence application process. Finally, as Environment and Resource Studies students conducting an environmentally related study our biases surely came into play. We made assumptions based on these biases as well. We assumed that environmental interest and awareness would increase over the years, and that by implementing an environmental residence both UW and the Community of Waterloo would benefit.

10.3 Significance

The immediate significance of this project is for the completion of the course ERS250. However, as mentioned in the title of this course, Greening the Campus, this project can be used to ‘green’ the UW campus, and the greater community as a whole. The UW housing administration could benefit greatly from this project. They could use it as a reference on how to market Kaizen effectively, and how to orientate the new Kaizen residents to ensure a sense of community and proper environmental awareness. Other universities could also use this project as a reference in marketing their environmental residence. Also, clubs such as the UWSP have shown interest in Kaizen, and how to market it effectively. Therefore, there are a number of groups that would benefit from this research project.



A variety of research methods were employed to propose a marketing strategy to implement Kaizen in 2003. It was essential that the interests of potential residents were identified so that an effective marketing scheme could be developed. This approach focused mainly on student’s evaluation of social dynamics in a residence.

Therefore, the research conducted was exploratory. A qualitative approach was maintained with emphasis on a human-centered study so that behaviors and preferences could be addressed. According to Palys, our research was appropriately categorized as inductive whereby observations lead to the development of a theory, "that adequately reflects the observed reality" (1997, p 415). A final direction was formulated after the investigations were completed.

To carry out the study four methodologies were applied. They were focus groups, surveys, an interview and secondary research. The former three received clearance from the Office of Research Ethics at the University of Waterloo (see Appendix #1).


11.1 Focus Groups

On March 12, 2002 the focus group were conducted at the University of Guelph. Participants were residents of the Eco-House - a division of Guelph’s Living Learning Centers (LLC). The LLCs are designed to join students with common interests together and provide opportunities for them to be challenged and grow in a unique community (University of Guleph, 2002). The focus group discussions were designed to gain an understanding of how their eco residence functions, and to also determine the strengths and weaknesses of that program. Furthermore, we sought to understand the central interests of students living in eco residences facilities. To carry out this research, non-probabilistic, purposive sampling was used. According to Ted Palys, this type of sampling is used when, "people or locations are intentionally sought because they meet some criterion for inclusion in the study" (Palys, p 137). We determined that residents of Guelph’s Eco-House would provide a representative sample of students living in an eco residence, and therefore intentionally targeted them.

Focus groups were selected as the method of data collection for a variety of reasons. According to D.L. Morgan, this type of information gathering is very effective when researchers are orienting themselves to a particularly new field. By listing to the respondent’s insights, a wide range of research is accumulated. Focus groups are unique because of their social dynamic. Participants are allowed to discuss their own preferences and elaborate on issues they feel important. Several perspectives can be revealed in such dialogue. Also, focus groups have the ability to cover a large quantity of information in a relatively short amount of time. In addition, new insights are known to possibly emerge from directed conversation. Hence, there are many advantages to focus group discussions. (Palys, 1997 p 156-157)

However, it was recognized that there are weaknesses associated with focus group methods. Individuals who are not accustomed to expressing opinions publicly may shy away or be reluctant to actively participate in the discussion (Palys, 1997, p 157). To reduce this effect, the facilitators of the discussion attempted to involve all parties present.

Fifty percent of Guelph’s Eco House resident’s participated in the focus group study. In total, 13 students were divided into three discussion groups. A Kaizen student researcher directed and led each conversation in a separate room. The discussion lasted approximately 30 minutes and all eleven questions were addressed in each group (See Appendix #2 for a list of focus group questions). The dialogue was recorded.

Overall, there was a positive response to the focus groups. Facilitators observed that everyone participated in the discussion. The first question asked residents how they heard about the Eco-House. The majority of respondents said that they learned about the facility from one of two sources, the internet or by word of mouth. The feature mentioned most that attracted students to the Eco-House was the chance to live with people with similar interests that possess a basic understanding of environmental issues. Pictures, literature or contact with Guelph representatives were not significant means of persuading them to choose Eco-House largely because these methods were not employed. Participants commented that the degree of marketing for the Eco-House was, in actuality, minimal and that they might have been persuaded more if they had been used. However, a minority felt that pictures would not impact their decision to live in the Eco-House because they had already made their decision to live there prior to seeing photographs.

Participants of the focus groups embraced the concept of designing an orientation package and presentation for students entering an eco-residence. At Guelph, they did not have a formal introductory orientation and consequently stated that it would have been beneficial. Specific elements suggested to be included were purpose and principle behind eco-residences, basic ways to reduce negative impact of daily living and instructions for composting tasks. This lead to addressing the importance of having a don who is interested and knowledgeable in environmental issues. Participants explained that it is essential that new students have an exceptional role model to follow after.

The focus group participants had few comments when probed about the benefits of equipping eco-residents with environmentally friendly cleaning products. This concept was new because janitorial staff regularly clean their facilities. Also, when asked to define an eco-house community there was little response. It is believed that participants were reluctant to respond for fear of offering an incorrect response, although there was no single correct response. Finally, the residents of Guelph’s Eco-House felt that their expectations had been fulfilled in choosing the Eco-House. Although they were surprised at the lack of environmentally friendly infrastructure, they were satisfied with the social activities in place that promoted an environmentally friendly lifestyle.

    1. Surveys
    2. Surveys were used as a source of primary research. In total, 98 high school students were surveyed from four OAC English classes. The objective was to determine the attitudes of potential first year students towards eco-residences. It is important to note that issuing these survey’s to high school students satisfies the recommendation made by the previous Kaizen researchers. This investigation was significant because it reflects the attitudes of students actually considering post secondary education rather than the previous study that surveyed students who were currently enrolled at UW. Again, non-probabilistic, purposive sampling was applied. Students in OAC English were targeted because it is the sole mandatory course for all university programs.

      On March 18, 2001, one student researcher conducted all four group-administered surveys. This method of administering the survey was chosen because of the higher response rate associated with face-to-face contact. Palys states that individuals are more inclined to participate in a study if they are in personal contact with the evaluator and can clarify uncertainties and reservations that they might have. Mail-outs questionnaires rarely receive more than a forty percent response rate. The higher percentage of responses increases the validity of the study and is therefore desirable. (Palys, 1997, p146).

      Structurally, the survey consisted of both structured and open-ended questions. Five structured questions were posed followed by two open-ended queries. The first five responses provided a good source of quantitative data. In qualitative research, Palys explains that accumulated data that can be easily computer-coded for analysis increases the reliability and validity of the survey (1997, p 187). Next, responses to the open-ended questions offered qualitative research. The data collected allowed for a more in depth analysis of the respondent’s interests and environmental knowledge. The individual structure of each question varied, for example, single-response and likert scale were used. A funneling format was selected for the overall structure of the survey. This means that the initial questions were generally broad, as the survey continued the questions became more specific about their understanding of eco-residences. (see Appendix #3 for a list of survey questions)


      In total, 98 surveys were distributed and all of them were completed. The results of the structured questions are in Figure #2.

      Figure #2 — Residence Options


      As seen in the results and in the chart above (Figure #2), most often students said that the internet was the chief method of learning about residence facilities at post secondary institutions. Talking with family and friends and partaking in campus tours were the second and third most popular ways of investigating residences respectively. The residence mail-outs were not valued as important, still significant in the decision-making process.


      Living in a place that encourages a sense of community was an important or very important element for 85 percent of participants. (Figure #3)

      Figure #3 — Importance of Community


      In summary, the open-ended questions revealed that high school students preferred living in a residence similar to the Columbia Lake Townhouses versus dormitory style dwellings. Generally, those who chose that response said that a townhouse offered the most space and variety of facilities and reinforced the concept of living on ones own. It follows that 29 percent of high students surveyed chose to live in the Eco-Village, whose description resembled the Ecopods. The residence description of Kaizen was the second most-popular residence among the four options that were hypothetically proposed in the high school survey. Those who chose this facility expressed that they were interested in environmental issues. The final question asked participants what they expected to be in place in an Eco-Village residence. The responses were principally infrastructure such as composting, recycling, and energy efficient lights and appliances.


    3. Interview

One interview was conducted at the University of Guelph. The program facilitator of the Eco-House Living Learning Center, Amy Proulx, was interviewed on March 12, 2002 in her residence. Ms. Proulx was chosen as a key informant because of her expertise in managing and coordinating events at the Guelph eco-residence. The purpose of this interview was to gain an understanding of the administrative procedures executed, and the marketing strategy implemented at Guelph.

The interview questions were fashioned to produce abundant qualitative research. The participant was encouraged to embellish responses so that a large quantity of data could be gathered. According to Palys, interviews of this variety are, "terrific . . . . optimal for understanding the phenomenology of the respondent" (1997, p 187). Also, it was decided to conduct this interview face-to-face because of the benefits of collecting quality information. By developing a personal rapport with the interviewee, the flow of the conversation was generated with ease. Palys explains that, "face-to-face interviews tend to be longer and more detailed, tend to seek a greater depth of response" (1997, p 155). The list of interview questions can be found in Appendix #4.

It was evident that the application and selection procedure was successful for Eco-House residents at Guelph. The interview exposed the simple procedure whereby the Program Facilitator receives all of the applications for Eco-House and selects the individuals who express the most interest, enthusiasm and potential dedication to living in an environmental friendly way. Furthermore, a large part of living in the Guelph’s Eco-House is community activities, and therefore students with similar interests are selected because of the increased probability that they will work together well. Once the Program Facilitator chooses the lucky candidates, it is forwarded to the Office of Housing where the final decision is made. This application process had been functioning for several years and generally operates smoothly.

One of the most important findings from the interview it that Guelph’s marketing plan for its eco-residence does not effectively attract large quantities of applicants. From 2000 to 2001 the number of applicants decreased from 45 to 20. Ms. Proulx admitted that their most successful method of advertising has been word of mouth. Although the residence is described on the university website, it is not regularly updated and its current information is outdated. Information is included in residence packages sent to students, however, historically word of mouth has been more effective in endorsing the Eco-House. It should be noted that up to 30 percent of Eco-House residents at UG are non-first year students.

11.4 Secondary Research — Literature Review

Secondary sources were employed to broaden our understanding of marketing strategies and locate successful examples of working eco-residences whereby to gain ideas. Sources included journals, texts, books, newspapers and the Internet. Together, the relevant literature established how to identify product and then methods for effectively advertising and promoting the product. The literature accumulated about other eco-residences provided a basis for comparing the strengths and weaknesses of UW’s proposed Ecopod.

Following with Palys’ definition for inductive research, the secondary sources reviewed aided the exploratory nature of the Kaizen project and generated a range of theories to be probed. Palys states that, "the research process generally involves gathering information about ‘what is happening’ and, perhaps more important, about why or how it’s happening that way" (1997, p240). It was our goal to identify what has been recently implemented in post-secondary eco-residences and what characteristically works best.

11.4.1 Marketing Aesthetics

The importance and value of having a product that is aesthetically pleasing is priceless. The eco-residence should be designed both inside and out to be visually pleasing. According to Nyla Matuk, the degree of visual satisfaction associated with a home or building largely determines the demand for that structure (Matuk, p 14). In most cases, a building that is aesthetically appealing will be in greater demand than one that is less attractive. The same holds true for outdoor areas such as parks, public trails and significant natural areas. A recent paper documenting the development strategies of the Oak Ridges Moraine in south central Ontario discusses the importance of preserving its natural landscape aesthetics. The area is significant because of its sensitive glacial landform makeup and the habitat it provides. Currently, there are disagreements about the development of the land. One of the strategies to help protect the natural area against urbanization is to maintain and enhance its beauty so that individuals appeal that the area be protected (Oak Ridges Moraine Technical Working Committee). Therefore, the task of designing an Ecopod that is visually pleasing should be of prime importance because it can directly impact demand of the facility.

Communication is a key component that must be in place in functional Ecopods at the University of Waterloo. There have been a plethora of studies completed that confirm that effective information exchange can increase the productivity in any situation. A large proportion of the research conducted has been implemented in the corporate world. In an article focusing on management techniques, Ken Wong states that when working together on a project, participants should be given responsibility and maintain accountability so that a strong sense of ownership over the project is created. In theory, this increases participant satisfaction and also quality of performance. Furthermore, all participants should be exposed to proper training before beginning the task to insure they feel confident in their role. (Wong, 2001, p27-28) This relates to the daily operations of the Kaizen facility. Wong’s evaluation of how a group effectively works together for a common goal can be applied to residence like in the Ecopod. Residents should be educated about the facility that they live in and the responsibilities that come with living there. A sense of ownership should be conveyed so that accountability is encouraged. Methods of communication can include awareness meetings, posters, pamphlets, bulletin boards and arranged information seminars.

11.4.2 Eco-Residences at Other Educational Institutions

McGill University

The eco-residence at McGill University first opened its doors as an ecological residence in the fall of 1996 as a way to create a model for sustainable living. This eco-residence was built in the mid-1960s and had temporarily shut down before it was used again as an environmentally friendly residence. This residence incorporates the new recycling and re-using techniques and uses many different green systems and products. It also acts as a forum for academic ecological research.

When renovating the old buildings, the architects and planners involved in this eco-residence were more interested in providing the residence with the equipment to help make it more environmentally friendly rather than just having the residents participate in different practices to do this. Some of these include:

The students who live in the eco-residence demonstrate a sustainable lifestyle in a real world educational context. The eco-residence is a permanent addition to teaching at McGill and it offers research opportunities in areas such as Microbiology, Ecology, Parasitology, Plant Biology, and Agricultural and Biosystems Engineering (Drummond, 1998).

University of British Columbia

Our aim is that one aspect in which the CLT ecopod will be unique is an increased sense of community. A program at the University of British Columbia was set up which helps strengthen the sense of community within environmental circles. The UBC Campus Sustainability Office was created by a new policy in 1998. Through this, the University of British Columbia is working toward the goal of becoming the leading Canadian University in demonstrating the means to a sustainable community, including the fair, wise and efficient use of economic, social and ecological resources. The UBC Campus Sustainability Office has set up what they call "Sustainability Circles" which are discussion groups that are set up to strengthen the community and to build shared knowledge. "Sustainability Circles" is an organized event that takes place twice a year. It has a relaxed, café atmosphere with small tables that accommodate about four or five to a table. The host poses a question for discussion by the participants. These participants are encouraged to record ideas, insights and questions that come up by writing or drawing them with the markers and paper tablecloth that are provided for them. Participants change tables after about ten minutes of discussion except for one person at each table. The person who remained at the table then brings the new members to the table up to date on the key ideas and questions that emerged from the first discussion. Participants then continue to discuss the questions that emerged from the first discussion and the original question with their new group. The ideas from each café will be summarized and posted on the Sustainability Circles website. Social change often, if not always, begins with conversations. Looking at what might happen, what needs to be addressed, and feeling connected to the issues and to each other is a vital part of change (UBC Campus Sustainability Office, online).

Northland College

Northland College in Ashland, Wisconsin has its own "living laboratory" which is the home to about 90 students a year. Before opening in 1998, the students at Northland insisted that the new residence that was being built should be environmentally efficient. This acted as a way for students to receive hands on training as opposed to learning theoretical concepts. Some of the features the environmentally residence include:

The residence has been listed as one of 26 "success stories" for commercial project in the United States by the U.S. Energy Department’s Center of Excellence for Sustainable Development.


University of Idaho

The University of Idaho is an example of a University that also is in the process of planning for an eco residence for the future. The residence, titled "Eco Dorm," is a product of a cooperative effort by students and faculty, which aims to create collaborative, interdisciplinary environment for teaching, research, and demonstration of environmentally and socially responsible living. Those involved in the project have the vision for the Eco Dorm to be a model of sustainable living for campuses around the United States. The redesign of an already existing building will not just only focus on resource conservation but on occupant comfort as well. Elements planned to be implemented as natural day lighting, energy and water conservation, and the blending of personal and community space. The Eco Dorm will also act as a facilitator for education. It will provide a living learning laboratory where students and faculty learn about technology and experience progressive, hands-on education. Through the Eco Dorm the University of Idaho will be the testing area for many new emerging products, innovative technologies, and sustainable systems.

Those involved in the planning for the Eco Dorm are still in the planning process but here are a few of the ideas that they have and are hoping to implement in the future:

This residence will take a much different form than the one that will be implemented at the University. However, both will follow the same principles as they will both provide an atmosphere for students to live in where they will be involved in carrying sustainable practices within their everyday lives.

11.4.3 Community

Firmly established Eco Villages and eco-minded communities throughout North America all stress the need for community. For the purposes of this literature review, two Eco Villages will be identified with the specific intent of showcasing these as representative samples of all the Eo-communities that were researched for the purposes of this literature review.

O.U.R Eco Village is located in costal British Columbia, Canada. Due to the coastal climate, this community partakes in extensive organic farming activities. This group is accessed through the internet and provides a warm sense of community through many pictures of community groups partaking in common activities such as the aforementioned organic gardening and community meal preparation. The following is a direct quote from O.U.R Eco Village’s web site and may well be viewed as their mission statement:

"We are dedicated to research and modeling sustainable ways of living which are rooted in social, economic, cultural and ecological well being. O.U.R Eco Village offers a healthy and supportive learning environment for people from all walks of life wishing to share information and inspiration around living in community and living lightly on the land."

- O.U.R Eco Village


WindSong is a co housing community also located in coastal British Columbia. This group stresses the importance of their diversity — age, sex, careers, nationalities, etc. — all contribute to environmental living in this community. Community members provide for the social needs of other community residents by sharing their expertise in areas such as visual arts, music and yoga instruction.

This community accomplishes its administrative, cleaning and maintenance needs through a Community Contribution System. Weekly or monthly duties are taken on by WindSong residents to maintain all facets of WindSong.

WindSong prides themselves on their "rich social life". "We believe that everyone years for community — some just don’t know it yet!" Established in 1996, residents claim that since this time they have learned of the importance of diversity and collaborative governance. (www.cohousing.ca/cohsng4/windsong/)



12.1 Continue with the proposed plan

The student research group that initiated the Kaizen project set forth a two-year, five year, and ten year plan. In these plans are detailed instructions on retrofitting the ecopod to be more environmentally sustainable. Examples include the replacement of old appliances, energy conserving light bulbs, vermicomposters, solar panels, low-flow showerheads, composting toilets, and the introduction of a community garden, to name a few. These recommendations come complete with a directory of resources to be consulted when purchasing the facilities and implementing the plan. This program has been approved for action by the University of Waterloo. Because of this approval and because of the comprehensiveness and thoroughness of the plan, we recommend that it continue to be adhered to. Central to our recommendation that the approved plan be followed is the finding that the features most desired for an ecopod among potential first year students included many of the items on the proposed action plan.

    1. Reconsider the Selected Units
    2. The units that the first Kaizen group chose to designate as the ecopod are units 17-25. However, when carrying out preliminary interviews with Christine Lemery, the current don of the townhouse units selected for inclusion in the ecopod, we discovered that the units that she is responsible for are 13-24. This means that when the ecopod program begins in the fall of 2003, the don in charge would have to plan activities for both ecopod and non-ecopod residents. Not only would this prove to be a difficult and time-consuming task, but it would also divide the don’s attention; giving them less time and concentration to focus on helping making sure the ecopod reaches its full potential. Therefore it is our recommendation that one don be responsible for all of the ecopod units and none of the non-ecopod units. This can be achieved by reconsideration of the units to be selected for inclusion in the ecopod to include 13-24 instead. Alternatively, the assignment of don placement could be reorganized in order to make one don responsible for units 17-25, and these units only.

    3. Build Community
    4. Throughout the process of conducting the research methods a common theme began to arise. This was the value of community. This section refers to two aspects of community; the community among the ecopod residents, and the community that they are a part of.

      When doing the secondary research of previous ecohouse projects it became evident that a sense of community among residents is essential to the success of any eco house. All of the best facilities for an ecologically sustainable residence can be in place but if the participation and cooperation of the people are not present the residence will never live up to its full potential. It is vital that the residents have a good understanding of the special features of the ecopod that make it sustainable so that they may have an appreciation for this and adjust their actions to suit the environmental standards. For example, a vermicomposters is not of much value if the students do not know how to use it and desire to do so.

      When the high school surveys were completed and analyzed it was found that eighty five percent of respondents felt that a sense of community is important or very important to them in the place in which they live. This is of particular importance in the case of the CLT ecopod because all residents will be first year university students adjusting to the change of living away from home. A strong sense of belonging aids in this transition and increases their satisfaction with the school and their experience. Community activities and facilities were listed among the items that the prospective first year students expected to find in place at an environmental residence such as the ecopod.

      The strongest lesson in the value of community came from the focus group discussions held at the University of Guelph eco house. There, no initiatives have been taken to equip the residence to be more environmentally sustainable; the community alone is what defines the eco house. Many of the residents involved in the discussions stated that the social aspect was the main feature that attracted them to the eco house. They wanted to live with people who had similar interests and a basic understanding of environmental issues. They also expressed interest in learning from others within the house. One person even stated that, because of their interests, they had felt isolated living in other residences and were relieved that eco house residents were open to diversity. When asked to define an eco house community the residents described one of openness and mutual respect.

      Because of the nature of the Columbia Lake Townhouses, groups of four or less people live in separation from one another. This makes it especially important to emphasize community among the eco house residents, as the group dynamics do not naturally occur in the individual households setting. We therefore recommend that a strong sense of community be emphasized among the eco house residents.

      Good examples for community building gleaned from the Guelph eco house include regular group meals such as a bi-weekly "soup kitchen" where residents meet and converse over a bowl of homemade vegan soup.

      Finally, community living is a factor in sustainability. Through the sharing of communal resources such as information, food, etc, the consumption of natural resources can be decreased and the empowerment of individuals can be accomplished.

      The second aspect of building community is the establishment of the residents within their community, both locally and on campus. This is important in giving the first year students a sense of belonging within the community which will stay with them throughout their years at the University of Waterloo. Many activities can be introduced to emphasize involvement in the community. These include monthly guest speakers from a variety of areas such as University of Waterloo clubs and organizations like the Sustainability Program (UWSP) and local environmental businesses. A common cause can be taken up by the residents like adopting an endangered species to sponsor or issue to promote.

      A major point brought up repeatedly by the University of Guelph eco house residents was that the decisions regarding activities and standards be made by the group as a whole. They do not want to be told by a don or by ecopod guidelines how to behave and what to be involved in. Thus, we recommend that community building initiatives such as those listed above be made available to the ecopod residents while allowing them the autonomy to pursue them if they so chose.


    5. Choose a Suitable Don
    6. Central to the goal of community building is the selection of a suitable don to oversee the initiatives of the Columbia Lake ecopod. While the ecohouse residents of the University of Guelph suggested that it is not of significant necessity to employ a don who is well educated in environmental issues, it important to make a clear distinction between the conditions of their ecohouse and the University of Waterloo ecopod. While the Guelph ecohouse is home to students of a variety of levels from first through fourth year of studies, the CLT ecopod will only be available to first year students. This implies that they will likely need more guidance from their don in the form of a mentor-like relationship. Therefore we propose that, though they need not be enrolled in environmental studies, the person selected to be the don responsible for Kaizen should have some environmental knowledge and experience. They should be both environmentally and socially conscious and have some understanding of current issues. Most importantly, they should be passionate individuals who are open-minded and willing to allow the residents a reasonable level of autonomy in the decision making of their planned activities. More emphasis will be placed on their role as a facilitator. Because first year students are less likely to have the tools and resources to make connections and find information for themselves, it is valuable to employ a don who can or has established links with environmentally related people, clubs, organizations, and businesses on campus and within the community.

    7. Revise Administration Process
    8. If we claim that the ecopod should be a community of people with a variety of environmental interests who want to be active on campus and in residence, then we should do more than just random selection in choosing the ecopod residents. Applicants should be evaluated and a dynamic group chosen to satisfy that goal. Students should be chosen from a variety of backgrounds and interests. This includes a diverse mix of majors and ethnic affiliations. It is in this way that residents will have the optimal opportunity to learn from one another and experiment with different values, cultures and lifestyles. We recommend that the application procedure of the CLT ecopod be modeled after that of the Guelph eco house. In this way, applicants are required to complete a brief questionnaire outlining their habits and interests, expectations of the eco house, and what they feel they can contribute. A sample of the questionnaire utilized by the university of Guelph in applicant selection is included in Appendix #5. The don then has a special duty different from most in that they have an opportunity to give their input as to the applicant selection. This list of choices is then reviewed by the residence admission office and the ultimate decision is made. Similar to the don selection, applicants need not be highly educated in environmental issues. They simply require an enthusiasm for the environment and be open-minded, willing to learn new ways of thinking and living.


    9. Develop Marketing Tools
    10. A good marketing strategy will help to make the CLT ecopod successful. We recommend that a pamphlet on the ecopod be included in the residence information packages with the information on the Columbia Lake Townhouses. A sample pamphlet was designed by a student researcher with the Columbia Lake Townhouses on one side of the pamphlet, providing full information on the facilities available. As the same facilities are a part of Kaizen, the Kaizen "advertising" was placed on the reverse both to reduce repetition and save paper. The Kaizen pamphlet was designed by taking the information gathered from the high school surveys into account. As the environmental education of OAC students was found to be minimal, the design of the pamphlet was simple — mostly promoting the "three R’s". The pamphlet was designed to relate, and not intimidate. Kaizen is being marketed as a learning community where the residents do not need to be experts in the area of environmental issues. The pamphlet also stresses the sense of community at Kaizen and the diversity among the residents. A sample pamphlet can be found in Appendix #6.

      A page on the residence website should be added to include Kaizen. These should promote the ecopod as a "Living and Learning" centre. It should be stressed that the same quality of facilities are available to Kaizen residents as the rest of the Columbia Lake Townhouses while stressing the many enhancements that make it more environmentally sustainable. Community and diversity are important features of Kaizen that should also be highlighted.

      Finally, the ecopod project should be included in the marketing of the University of Waterloo as a whole. This will not only gain awareness of the ecopod program but will also improve the public image of the school as an environmentally responsible institution. A possible future category for the ranking of Universities of McLeans magazine will be the overall sustainability of University Campuses. Improving this image of UW will ensure a continued high ranking of the University within Canada and the world.

      Working visibility is another marketing tool which should be applied to the Kaizen project. This includes the overall aesthetics of the ecopod units as well as the ability to visually recognize its environmental features. For this reason the early installation of the solar panels and community garden should be considered. An environmental residence in Wisconsin found that the greatest value of their solar panels and wind turbine were not in the energy they produced but in the publicity they attracted. A process evaluation of this building stated that students often make up their minds about an institution within the first ten minutes on campus (Bensch, 2000). It is therefore important to make it easy to see how the ecopod is environmental and unique.

      Another way of utilizing visibility is to provide promotional t-shirts to the ecopod residents so that they may wear them around and generate awareness and curiosity.

    11. Develop an Orientation Kit
    12. As previously stated, it has become apparent that an environmental residence will never reach its full potential without the cooperation and participation of the people living there. It is for this reason that an orientation kit is necessary. Information must be provided to the residents on the various features of the ecopod which make it more environmentally sustainable. In this manner, students will gain an appreciation for these facilities and be more willing to cooperate with the goal of environmental living by amending some of their consumption practices etc.

      As well, we have discovered through the high school surveys that these prospective students have little knowledge of environmental practices and concerns beyond the three R’s, and even then their familiarity seems to spread no further than mere recycling. An effective orientation kit should include information sheets and useful tips on how to live a more environmentally sustainable lifestyle. Much of this information can be obtained through the University of Waterloo Sustainability Project (UWSP). Examples of the information necessary to include can be found at the back of this report, in Appendix #7.

      The orientation kit would also contain a list of contacts useful for the first year ecopod residents in meeting other like-minded environmental individuals and establishing environmental activities for the pod. A list of suggestions for possible group and individual activities will also be included. 

    13. Develop an Evaluation Criteria

It is important to ensure that the ecopod is living up to its full potential. Therefore, a yearly evaluation of the effectiveness of the retrofitted features should be done. In addition, the eco house residents should be questioned as to their satisfaction with the eco house and recommendations on future developments and programs.



Community — Refers to a group of people with common interests living together in a particular area. (Webster’s New Collegiate Dictionary, 1980)

Eco — A combining term meaning "household", "environment". (www.dictionary.com)

Eco-pod — A small series of houses that focus on the theme of environment. In this case it will be inclusive of the Columbia Lake Townhouses, units 17-25.

Eco Village — A community within a house that focuses on the theme of environment

Environment-The aggregate of surrounding things, conditions or influences. (www.dictionary.com)

Focus Group- A small group selected from a wider population and sampled, as by open discussion, for its members' opinions about or emotional response to a particular subject or area, used especially in market research or political analysis. (www.dictionary.com)

Kaizen — A Japanese term meaning gradual and continuous improvement.

Marketing Concept — The process of determining the needs and wants of a target market and delivering a set of desired satisfactions to that target market more effectively than the competition. (Tuckwell, 1991)

Pod — A small herd or school (www.dictionary.com)

Psychographic Profile — A character analysis of the target market based on their interests, activities, and opinions.

Retrofit — To modify equipment that is already in service using parts developed or made available after the time of original manufacture. (www.dictionary.com)

Sustainability — Meeting the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs. This is the definition provided by the Brundtland Commission.

Target Market — A group of customers who have certain characteristics in common. (Tuckwell, 1991)

Village — The inhabitants of a community, taken as a whole.




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