Definition and Rationale
Statement on Sustainability
Environmental Information System at the Ron Eydt Village
Research Study Diagram
The above quote, by Eagan and Orr, implies that the human species threaten their ecological foundations while striving for success. In the busy daily life of university students living in residence, the environment and its connection to human actions may be easily overlooked. The university campus educates students on important environmental issues in order to continue along the path to a sustainable campus.
First, this project assessed what information was being given to students at Ron Eydt Village and who provided the information (see our system description for more information), in the context of the following environmental issues:
The five environmental issues that are involved in this study are transportation, energy efficiency and conservation, water conservation, waste and recycling, and noise. All five issues are presently issues of concern at the University of Waterloo. This was discovered through past ERS 285 projects, books and studies (See Background). These issues are relevant to the Ron Eydt Village residents and the students living there. These are issues that are affected by their level of knowledge, which gives them the choice to act or not act in environmentally appropriate ways or not. Student knowledge on these five issues was studied.
Transportation: There are transportation issues on the Waterloo campus that have been identified through previous ERS 285 projects. Some students micro-commute on campus, which is driving from one building to another on campus. This practice increases pollution through fossil fuel combustion and also decreases safety for pedestrians. Although about 60% of the student body walks or bikes to and within campus, micro-commuting is still an issue which needs to be addressed.
and Conservation: The University of Waterloo campus is very large and
consumes a large amount of energy in its many functions. While this
is true, many measures have been taken by plant operations that have resulted
in an energy reduction of 42% per unit area since 1973 (Kay, 1998). It
is clear that every attempt to conserve energy will reduce cost to the
university. A reduction in energy use also reduces pollution, such
as the burning of fossil fuels.
Water Conservation: The use of water on campus is, in some cases, excessive. Water conservation is an important element of a sustainable campus. Many measures have been implemented, including water-saving retrofits on faucets and toilets at various locations on-campus.
Waste and Recycling: The issues surrounding waste and recycling are a concern on the University of Waterloo campus. In many cases, recycling is not done properly. For example, a recent survey of Columbia Lake Townhouse residents revealed that 45% of respondents were unclear in terms of what can be recycled (Recycling at Columbia Lake Townhouses, April 1997). Effort has been made to educate students on this issue, though contamination of recycling bins is frequent on-campus.
Noise: The City
of Waterloo has made a request to the University of Waterloo, to educate
students on noise and its effects on the community environment. Complaints
have been made to the University by nearby residents who find the noise
originating from the residence buildings a nuisance.
For further information on these issues and how they relate to the University of Waterloo environment, see our Background.
Secondly, information given to students was identified through informal interviews with core actors. An information assessment was conducted to determine what information should be presented to students in order to move towards a more sustainable campus. This was based on past WATgreen studies and other sources including books and Internet resources. Once the information assessment was completed, a survey was distributed to a sample of the student population at the Ron Eydt Village (R.E.V.). This allowed us to determine how knowledgeable R.E.V. students were about the five selected issues. (See Research Study Diagram).
It is our hope that the University of Waterloo will use the information contained in this project to better inform students residing at Ron Eydt Village of environmental issues relevant to campus life.
We chose the Ron Eydt
Village residents for this study. It is important to start educating
students about environmental issues on campus early in the education process
at the University of Waterloo campus. It is hoped that first year
students will carry this knowledge with them, build on it, and act on it
through their post-secondary education and beyond. Ron Eydt Village
a micro-community made up of first year students, where students live,
eat and hold social events. There is staff to oversee the residence, including
Dons who live with the students and managers who both ensure a positive
and safe living atmosphere.
It is recognized that all students enter first-year University with different levels of knowledge on environmental issues and all other issues as well. Some student knowledge will exceed this, but for others, it will prove a valuable learning experience.
Knowledge of the students in Ron Eydt Village was studied through a survey. The purpose was to determine where gaps existed in knowledge of the five environmental issues identified above. This survey helped determine if the gaps in the information presented were of true concern or not. If the students were not presented information regarding issue on campus, and the survey shows they know what the issue is, then the information may not need to be presented to students in Ron Eydt Village. Recommendations were made based on both informal interviews and a survey.
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Statement of Sustainability
We envision the University of Waterloo as being an institutional leader committing its resources and its expertise in the creation of an environmentally sustainable future. The University shall be managed in such a way as to:
Not only should a sustainable
campus attempt to have little environmental impact on campus and surrounding
communities, but it should be an active positive participant in the attempt
to increase and maintain social and economic health. The university must
be committed to environmental education on and beyond the campus.
Providing information to residents of Ron Eydt Village regarding environmental
issues on campus is a small step toward the larger goal of informing the
University of Waterloo Community.
Sustainability means that all parts of the system, in this case the campus of the University of Waterloo, be recognized as being interconnected. A new ethic will emerge on campus; one that will lead to a new physical and socio-economic structure. The inclusion of environmental issues as a part of the decision-making process will result in issues being easier to solve. The new ethic will make people proud of what they have and what they are doing to maintain a sustainable system. By providing Ron Eydt residents information on the direct effect of their actions and implications for campus environmental health, the concept of interconnectedness is addressed on a small scale. This could also potentially expand studentsí knowledge of the existence of WATgreen as a source of information about campus environmental issues.
At the Campus Earth Summit, held in 1994, Mrs. Teresa Heinz, who had the honour of making the introductory remarks, had an extremely viable answer to the question of what a green campus will be like.
"A green campus is one that integrates environmental knowledge into all relevant disciplines, improves environmental studies course offerings, provides opportunities for students to study campus and local environmental problems, conducts environmental audits of its practices, institutes environmentally responsible purchasing policies, reduces campus waste, maximizes energy efficiency, makes environmental sustainability a top priority in land use, transportation and building planning, establishes a student environmental centre and supports students who seek environmentally responsible careers."
A sustainable University of Waterloo would be committed to a preventative approach rather than a reactive approach within the decision-making process. The campus would be an active participant in higher education initiatives such as the Campus Earth Summit, and more importantly, would adopt the recommendations that are produced in this type of forum. The University would also be an active participant in the community by promoting and funding both activities and projects that are community based. Partnerships with organizations and groups in the community would be formed, with the goal of developing solutions to local, national and international environmental and social problems.
The University of Waterloo would take pride in its innovative approach to education. The University would promote awareness of the natural environment and the impact different lifestyle choices have on the campus. Environmental ethics would be taught to all students, as well as academic, administrative and support staff. Each faculty would have a core credit course that would educate students on how their field of study connects to their environment, including accountability of individual actions on the environment.
The University of Waterloo would no longer follow the 3Rís of waste reduction, but instead expand this principal to the 7Rís: reduce, reuse, recycle, reject, replace, repair and rejoice. Not only would UW greatly reduce solid waste and minimize the use of paper products, it would encourage teachings in repairing of products that would otherwise be discarded into landfills. The social well being of all individuals affiliated with the University would be improved as a result. The University of Waterloo would continue being sustainable because people would have a sense of pride and stewardship towards the environment, and as a result could rejoice over its beauty and efficiency.
The University of Waterloo would increase the presence of WATgreen, which would design and implement an environmental management system, thus improving economic efficiency, protect and restore ecological systems, and further enhance the well being of all citizens in the community. The University of Waterloo would also have WATgreen advisory sub-committees in each faculty to monitor, assess and audit existing programs. It would also be required that each department prepare a comprehensive specific plan for the implementation of a University-wide Environmental Policy. These sub-committees would report to the WATgreen, ensuring implementation of policies is in partnership with waste management and administration. The University would also monitor each department and invite all members of the community to support the efforts to meet policy goals by notifying the EAC about any non-compliance with such policy.
The University of Waterloo campus would manage its system in a way that would be the pride of the campus. One such characteristic would University policies that exceed government standards, regulations and guidelines. These policies would set a precedence for other campuses to follow. The University of Waterloo would prove to be second to none.
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and from Campus
This was an ERS 285 project that was done in 1991. It stated that:
ENERGY EFFICIENCY AND CONSERVATION (INCLUDING WATER CONSERVATION)
Yale University - Campus Green Summit and Blueprint for a Green Campus (1995): This was an international effort from which a blueprint for a green campus was drafted. Recommendation were made including:
This was an ERS 285 project that was done in 1994. This project assessed the knowledge of first year students at UW. It provided results concerning the level of awareness about waste reduction that were presented to the sources that can take action. This resulted in increased student participation in reduction of waste on campus. This project was a follow up to a previous ERS 285 project titled Campus Attitudes which was completed in 1991 and provided information on students knowledge and awareness on environmental issues.
System for Residence: Waste Audit - Village I and II
This was an ERS 490's project done in 1994. This project tested an alternative recycling system in the Village Residences. Based on a waste audit and a survey of the residents, recycling recommendations for the Villages were developed and included:
This was an ERS 285 project that was done in 1991. This project looked at the ways in which we can improve educating the students on environmental issues including:
A number of these above recommendation have been done on the University of Waterloo Campus.
Recommendations in this book include:
In conclusion, the previous studies all relate to the educational aspect of achieving sustainability within a campus.
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The system being studied is the information system at Ron Eydt Village. Our project will focus on information regarding environmental issues that administrators and staff give to students at Ron Eydt Village. The system is characterized by flows of ideas and information, hopefully resulting in increased environmental knowledge and sustainability. This study will provide a means for finding out what information is being given, determining what information needs to be provided and third, testing student knowledge on these environmental issues. Some of the inputs will involve incoming information provided for the Ron Eydt Village students by the University of Waterloo. The outputs will include student knowledge on the issues identified.
This study will be limited to first year students in Ron Eydt Village. It is hoped that this focus on first year students will initiate knowledge of environmental issues at an early stage in the education process at the University of Waterloo. In addition, the residence can be considered a micro-community in which the information system can be assessed in a controlled environment. The evaluation of the knowledge of information provided to the students will determine which gaps presently exist in this education process.
In order to analyse the level of environmental knowledge, we need to understand what first year students know about environmental issues (waste, transportation, water, energy and noise). To accomplish this goal, a survey will be designed to assess their knowledge of these issues.
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A. Speak to the core actors on present information being provided to the students in Ron Eydt Village
Interviews will be held with core actors in order to determine their contribution to the information process of environmental issues. Five questions have been created and will be asked to each actor respectively. The five questions are as follows:
B. Survey Students residing in Ron Eydt Village
A survey was created to test general environmental knowledge of students living in this residence. The data collected from the interview process and background information will contribute to the design of the survey. The survey was written after the interviews were conducted and once it is established what information on which environmental issues has been provided to the students.
The survey measures whether the students are knowledgeable on the issues identified in the project definition, and helps to determine what information should be provided. This is also based on our assessment and analysis of background information and interviews with core actors. The survey will be given to a significant sample size (192 students, which is 20% of the student population) relative to the student population (960) in Ron Eydt Village. The sample size was determined using page 397 of Freund and Simon (1997). The survey will be distributed in the cafeteria from 4 p.m. to 6p.m. on a weekday, which is during the busiest time of day at the residence.
C. Student knowledge
tested by the survey will be compared to what information should be known
about the identified environmental issues based on our research and previous
ERS 285 projects.
The survey identifies whether students are knowledgeable about environmental issues. If they are not, recommendations will be made to improve the education process in Ron Eydt Village. Closing of these information gaps will result in movement toward a more sustainable micro community at the residence.
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1. Patti Cook
An informal meeting was conducted with Patti Cook, who is the Waste Management Co-ordinator, on Wednesday, March 11th. It was discovered that Patti was involved in the waste and recycling program at Ron Eydt Village in August 1997.
During the month of August, before the students arrived in September, Patti distributed paper copies of the region's recycling pamphlet to two or three recycling locations on each floor of the resident. These were primarily in the television room, outside the Don's room and in the laundry room. They were put on 95 gallon carts in every quad. The region's poster describes how to recycle properly. (More information can be found at http://www.region.waterloo.on.ca/waste/docs/wastebbmaterials.html).
Patti Cook sent
out a memo to Dave Reynolds at Ron Eydt Village on September 30, 1997.
This memo was a follow-up memo to the posters she distributed in August.
This memo mentioned that the posters had been placed in the residence and
provided more information on how to recycle cardboard on campus.
Patti Cook conducted a follow-up visual audit of the recycling locations at Ron Eydt Village and made some conclusions and recommendations.
- Patti suggested that
the resident itself should decide where the recycling containers were put.
This decision would be that of the managers, superintendents, custodians
- Patti suggested that laminated posters be put up in the resident, describing how to recycle. These laminated posters would last longer than the paper ones distributed prior to the student's arrival.
-Patti suggested that, because of fire regulations in hallways, all containers be in the alcoves, laundry rooms and lounges.
In conclusion, Patti Cook has been an active participant in the implementation and follow-up of the waste and recycling program at Ron Eydt Village residents. She has had no direct interaction with the students. But through the posters and recycling bins that have been placed in various location, Patti has played a part in recycling and waste education.
2. WPIRG (Waterloo Public Interest Research Group)
On Friday, March 13, there was an informal interview with Linda Vieregge, the Co-ordinator of Information & Administration at Waterloo Public Interest Resource Group (WPIRG). WPIRG was dismissed as a core actor in this project because they did not satisfy the first question of the interview process. That is, they have not and do not provide any environmental information to the students of Ron Eydt village. Linda Vieregge stated that WPIRG is only intended to be a resource centre for anyone who wants to inquire about a social environmental issue. In order for WPIRG to get involved with providing the village with information on a certain issue, the dons would have to request it. At that point, WPIRG would put an information package together containing the information that was requested. In conclusion, WPIRG practices a reactive rather than proactive approach to providing information to the students at the Ron Eydt village. As such, they are not a core actor in the provision of environmental information to the students.
3. Chris Dodd, Residence Life Co-ordinator, Ron Eydt Village
Information given to
students include a Policy Handbook and a "Pillow" Book, which includes
rules, regulations and information on village life in general. Information
distribution in Ron Eydt Village must be approved by Chris Dodd before
any action can be taken.
Leanne OíDonnell is the person who determines what information should be included in these booklets.
Information has not been provided on water conservation, energy efficiency or waste and recycling since September. Patti Cook did put up posters in August 1997, but nothing has been done since.
4. Transportation and Noise
Transportation: General information on Parking is given to the students in terms of where vehicles can be parked, cost and other details, including instructions for snow removal. Other information given is the fact that bicycle storage is available for students who wish to store their bicycles in the winter or while on work term.
Noise: The use of headphones on music/T.V. equipment is mandatory at the discretion of the Don. Also, "reasonable peace and quiet shall prevail on Village premises at all times." There is a quiet house in Ron Eydt Village, where strict rules regarding noise prevail at all times.
Information regarding transportation and noise issues was gathered from the Security Department of the University of Waterloo. Sergeant Wayne Schortt provided us with an extensive forty-five minutes informal meeting where valuable information was collected.
An interview took place with the Federation of Students at the University of Waterloo with Heather Calder, Vice President of Student Issues. She informed me that The Federation of Students is presently not involved with the Ron Eydt Village on these environmental issues: waste and recycling, noise, transportation, energy conservation, and water conservation. Although the FEDS are not involved in providing information on those issues, they should not be excluded from our study. Recently, an Environment Commission was created, which is directly affiliated with the FEDS and this is an open door to a possible future involvement.
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The following questions that were posed to students at the Ron Eydt village are considered to be of minimal difficulty. 199 students completed the survey.
Waste and Recycling
Proper recycling and waste management by the students at the Ron Eydt Village will lead to an elimination of solid waste, a decrease in the use of paper products, and an increase of recycled products. In addition, the use of nonrecyclable products will be decreased and replaced with reusable products.
1. Which one of
these cannot be recycled at Ron Eydt Village?
|Aluminium Foil Wrap||68||34|
|They can all be recycled||63||32|
|I don't know||4||2|
This question was posed in order to determine if the students at Ron Eydt Village possessed basic knowledge on recycling and waste management. The above question examined whether the students could distinguish between recyclable and non-recyclable items. It was found that only 28% answered correctly that milk cartons cannot be recycled. Therefore, 72% either misidentified the nonrecyclable item or didn't know.
2. Which is the most appropriate way to dispose of your paper waste in the Ron Eydt Village?
|Placed in recycling bin||178||89|
|Thrown in garbage||14||7|
The most appropriate way to dispose of paper waste in the Ron Eydt Village
is to place it in a recycling bin.
This question was posed in order to determine if Ron Eydt residents would choose recycling for their waste paper. It was found that 89% of the students would choose to recycle their paper waste.
These questions were included to determine whether the students are aware of the noise regulations (or lack of them) on their residence floor as well as in the city of Waterloo. Since students are thought to contribute to noise pollution in both the residences and the city, it is crucial for them to understand the rules and the consequences of breaking them.
3. Is there an 11
p.m. noise curfew bylaw in the city of Waterloo?
|I don't know||96||48|
Correct answer- No,
there does not exist an 11 p.m. noise curfew bylaw in the City of Waterloo
Results from this question clearly shows that students are unaware of the City of Waterloo's noise by-law. Only 15% of the students surveyed responded correctly.
4. Is there an 11
p.m. noise curfew on your residence floor?
|I don't know||12||6|
Correct Answer- Yes, there does exist an 11 p.m. curfew on the residence floor.
Result show that 66%
of the students surveyed are aware of the noise policy existing on their
5. You could be charged for playing loud music or shouting at 9 a.m. under the City of Waterloo bylaw.
|I don't know||9||5|
Correct Answer- True, a person can be charged for playing loud music or shouting at 9 a.m. under the City of Waterloo bylaw.
Once again, results
indicate that students lack information concerning the City's noise by-law.
Only 35% correctly responded to this question.
Knowledge on energy consumption and conservation contributes to a sustainable campus and community. Such knowledge would include the following:
|I don't know||3||1.5|
Solar, Wind and
|Students selecting Solar and Wind||108||54|
While it is not expected for first year undergraduate students to possess a detailed understanding of the above, it is expected for them to comprehend the basics. The basics would include knowledge on being able to identify renewable energy sources from non-renewable energy sources. Only 9% of the students correctly identified all three renewable energy sources. However, 54% identified solar and wind energy as renewable energy sources.
7. In the past 10 years, there has been an increase in energy consuming apparatuses on campus (computers and additional infrastructures). Along with this, the University has managed to:
|Reduce the energy consumption per square meter||32||16|
|Increase the energy consumption per square meter||23||12|
|I don't know||144||72|
Correct Answer- U of W has reduced the energy consumption per square meter regardless of the increase in energy consumption apparatuses on campus.
The University of Waterloo should be taking pride in the fact that there has been a reduction in the energy consumption per square meter regardless of the increase in energy consuming apparatuses. When surveyed, only 16% answered correctly. Therefore, 84% of the students were unaware of this accomplishment.
A sustainable campus also includes the efficient use of transportation thereby reducing the emissions that contribute to air pollution and atmospheric degradation. This can be achieved through the encouragement of public transport, car-pooling, the use of bicycles and cycling routes.
8. What is the most
popular form of transportation on campus?
Correct answer- The most popular form of transportation on campus is walking.
Based on a previous "Greening the Campus" study, it was concluded that walking is the most popular form of transportation on campus. When surveyed, 89% of the students answered correctly.
9. Micro Commuting
|Driving from one place to another that is considered a short distance (could drive)||67||34|
|Driving within a city||24||12|
|Taking public transit||28||14|
|I don't know||80||40|
Correct answer- Micro Commuting is driving from one place to another that is considered a short distance (could drive).
When asked about the definition of micro commuting, only 34% stated that they were aware of the concept. That is, 66% either admitted that they did not know the definition or answered incorrectly.
Water Conservation & Reduction
Efficient water use
is a requisite for a sustainable campus. This could only be achieved through
adequate information on how to reduce the use of water and how to reduce
water pollution. The first step in contributing to the conservation of
water is being aware of the associated policies.
10. The University of Waterloo has a water conservation policy?
|I don't know||8||4|
Correct answer- No, the University of Waterloo does NOT have a water conservation policy.
When asked on whether
the U of W has a water conservation policy, 74% answered incorrectly or
admitted that they did not know. Only 26% of the student were aware that
a water conservation policy does not exist.
11. Water saving retrofits are used in Ron Eydt village?
|I don't know||14||7|
Correct Answer- False, water saving retrofits are NOT presently used by the resident.
When the students of Ron Eydt village were asked whether they use water saving retrofits in their residence, 58% of them answered true. Unfortunately, permanent water saving retrofits are NOT used in the villages (they were only in the past). This indicates that either the students don't know that retrofits are no longer used or that they don't know what retrofits are. Either way, in order for students to participate in making the campus sustainable, they must be provided with information on water conservation.
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There were some challenges and limitations we found in this study:
The students living at Ron Eydt Village during the 97/98 school year were not provided with any education on water conservation. The following recommendations for education to the residents at Ron Eydt Village campus concerning water conservation are:
The interviews and
the survey indicated that only Patricia Cook has been involved with providing
information on waste and recycling. Further, it was also discovered that
student knowledge on recycling issues other than paper recycling is low
and needs improvement. Here are some recommendations for educating students
effectively regarding these issues:
highly recommend that the University of Waterloo affirms and promotes a
healthy quality environment to its residents, students, faculty and staff.
It should commit itself to environmental excellence now and in the future.
As a leading teaching and researching institution, the University must
play the role of an exemplary citizen committed to environmental education
so that all members of the university community are knowledgeable about
the importance of environmental responsibility. The University of
Waterloo must contribute to the education of an environmentally literate
population and must therefore incorporate into all its policies the highest
concern for our impact on the environment and our ecological footprints.
We believe that respect for sustainability will be achieved through co-operation,
communication and education.
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Cycling at UW. April 1997. ERS 285 Project.
Eagan, D.J. and D.W. Orr, Eds. 1992. The Campus and Environmental Responsibility. San Francisco: Josey-Bass Publishers.
Freund, J.E. and Simon G.A. Modern elementary statistics. 9th ed. New Jersey: Prentice-Hall.
Green Education. 1991. ERS 285 Project.
Greening The Minds Of The Village 1 Residence. 1997. ERS 285 Project.
Improved Recycling System for Residence: Waste Audit - Village I and II. 1994. ERS 490 Project.
Kay, James. 1998. Personal consultation.
Recycling at Columbia Lake Townhouses, April 1997. ERS 285 Project.
Smith, April A. and
The Student Environmental Action Coalition. 1993. Campus Ecology:
A guide to
assessing environmental quality and creating strategies for change. Los Angeles: Living Planet Press.
Transportation to and from Campus. 1991. ERS 285 Project.
Waste Reduction Education. 1994. ERS 285 Project
University - Campus Green Summit and Blueprint for a Green Campus.