In order to envision a sustainable campus in the
future, one must first identify what the characteristics of sustainability
are, and outline the changes required to accomplish that vision. The goal
of sustainability is, "to meet the needs of the present generation without
compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs"
(Bruntland Commission, 1997). Achieving sustainability involves a
restructuring of campus practices and attitudes. All factors associated
with sustainability must be revised to accommodate the following suggestions.
Education is the first step in spreading awareness, which is necessary
in creating a fundamental change.
Education & Awareness
Education is the first step in spreading awareness, which is necessary in creating a fundamental change. Sustainable practices can be integrated into our current education system in several ways and by using new found technology University of Waterloo has the capabilities to turn resource wasting practices into environmentally sound ones. Registration of courses could be done on-line along with course drop-adds. This will reduce the distribution of paper schedules as well as administrative forms. The use of computer technology can offer courses a paper free alternative. Course outlines, assignments, evaluations, and general handouts could all be available on the World Wide Web.
Though resource consumption must be reduced in the education system, education itself is also a priority. The UW population should be required to take a minimum of one ERS/ENV S course to heighten their environmental awareness and introduce them to concepts such as the Environmental Footprint. This awareness must also be passed on to professors, as their impact on the environment is equally important. Educated professors can also pass along knowledge regarding campus initiative such as the lug-a-mug program as well as the chemical exchange program.
In evaluating sustainability on campus, resources must also be considered. A focus must be put on reducing our dependence on non-renewable resources. In doing so, alternative energy sources must be further researched and then implemented, such as solar and wind power. As part of a sustainable campus the elimination of cars would ideally result in an increased number of cyclists on campus, in turn decreasing the need for paved areas. To facilitate this plan, a bus pass could be incorporated into student tuition fees.
Closed looped system
In an attempt to create a closed looped system, essential stores could be moved closer to campus. Having stores such as grocery (bulk foods) and coin laundry closer to campus would reduce the need to drive. In addition a weekly farmers market, located on campus, would promote locally grown produce for staff and students. Another essential resource that needs to be monitored is water consumption. By incorporating concepts such as the ‘living machine’ students would become more aware of their impact on the environment. Such concepts would also decrease the impact of the campus as a whole, thus further closing the loop. Efforts such as retrofitting faucets and toilets would help water conservation efforts.
The final important section relating to sustainability concerns environmental aspects of campus. The first things that must be dealt with are the harmful practices now in place. The university should eliminate pesticide use as it affects the health of the natural areas on campus. The sanding and salting of roads and paths could also be evaluated to determine if there are more ecologically safe alternatives. The second area concerning the natural environment relates to naturalization and landscaping. The campus should have an increase in naturalized areas with native vegetation. Also Laurel Creek could be returned to its natural ecosystem. Landscaping needs to be addressed to return natural areas and to control erosion and flooding. An increase in self-sustaining systems will contribute to an overall vision of a sustainable University of Waterloo.
When the University of Waterloo has become sustainable, certain characteristics will be evident. First, when attitudes, awareness and lifestyles of the UW population have changed to become more knowledgeable on environmental issues and how they affect their surrounding environment. Second, when the physical appearance of the university has changed to less paved surfaces and more naturalized areas. Finally, the most noticeable characteristic of sustainability on campus will be when ERS 285 becomes obsolete due to no possible further environmental initiatives being foreseen by the students and faculty.