WHAT IS SUSTAINABILITY?
  By: Jen, Michelle, Melissa and Rhonda
 

         Sustainablility is defined by Webster’s New Complete Dictionary as “providing nourishment for all life support systems for a prolonged period of time”.  We envision a sustainable University of Waterloo campus to be one that uses and reuses as many materials on campus as possible.  This system would be one where every material that can be is supplied by on campus resources, including food, water, and energy.  In order for the University of Waterloo to become sustainable the following factors would have to be implemented.  These factors include using resourses that can be obtained on campus, recycling, naturalized landscape, transportation, and attitudes.  We feel that if all of these factors are implemented then the UW campus would be a sustainable one.
 

  REUSING RESOURCES ON CAMPUS
 

Food:

     Within the campus, organic gardens would provide the necessary amounts of fruits and vegetables for all cafeteria use.  These gardens would be located in an area that is accessible to everyone.   An ideal location would be the North Campus of UW.  Excess amounts of  crops from the organic gardens would be made available to all students and faculty on designated market days.  The unsold goods would either be donated to a local charity or be placed in with the waste generated from consumption of these goods. This compost would be used as a natural method to fertilize the landscape instead of harmful pesticides and herbicides.

 
Water:

     Water should also be conserved as much as possible on the UW campus.  Waste-
water would be treated on campus in a constructed wetland.  Such a setting would be both be a natural way in which to recycle and purify water, thereby also adhering to the Ontario Drinking Water Objectives.  Low- flow toilets and shower heads would be installed in both the campus residences and throughout the other campus buildings.  This would ensure that water conservation was taking place on campus.

 
Energy:

     Water and buildings could be heated using natural gas.  This process is not 100% environmentally sound but it is the most environmentally friendly non renewable resource that is also economically viable.  Renewable energy technologies such as solar, thermal and wind power could be used to supplement present environmentally degrading energy sources, like hydro-electric and nuclear power.  These technologies could even be implemented and designed by the students and staff of UW.  The buildings on campus would be used to hold the solar panels and wind mills that are neede to generate energy.  Another way to reduce the energy consumption at UW would be to install energy saving lightbulbs in all of the light sockets on the UW campus.  This would include not only the residences but all of the offices and classrooms.
 

  RECYCLING
 

     Recycling of glass and plastic containers, paper, newspaper, and cardboard would be implemented in all of the buildings on the UW campus.  The proper instruction on how to recycle and what can be recycled  would be placed on the wall above the blue recycling bins.  Seminars would be held and information packages would be available on these same procedures and why it is important to the UW campus.  Although most of these ideas about recycling are already in place on the UW campus,  it is important to emphasize the proper way in which to recycle in order to avoid contamination from unrecyclable goods being placed into the same containers with recyclables.
 
 

  LANDSCAPE
 

     The University of Waterloo would move closer towards sustainability if the campus had a naturalized landscape.  This would include the organic gardens mentioned earlier as well as returning the campus to its natural state.  This state would be achieved by removing all of the dead non native species and replacing them with the species that are native to the Waterloo area.  The UW campus is covered with the non native species of Austrian Pine.   When an Austrian Pine dies, instead of replacing it with more of the same species it should be removed and replaced with a native species.  This process would gradually return the campus back to a less disturbed ecosystem without completely destroying the ecosystem that is living at the present time.  This would allow the naturalized landscape to be more productive in producing clean air and water, and better soil to grow crops in.  
 
 

  TRANSPORTATION

 
     Alternative fuel vehicles and alternative transport should be emphasized on the UW campus.  A recent transportation study on campus found that there were over 75 university vans and trucks being used for on campus needs.  This is a large number of vehicles and should be reduced in order to minimize the impact that they have on the environment.  If alternative fuels such as natural gas or electric vehicles were used on campus then the harmful emission levels would begin to decrease.

     Alternative forms of transportation should be encouraged on the UW campus.  This form of transportation includes biking, walking, taking the bus, and car pooling. Some ways of encouraging biking on the UW campus include having more bike paths on and off campus, putting bike lanes on ring road, and increasing the number of bike racks.  This would allow the students and faculty to lock up their bikes outside of the building that they are in, instead of having to lock it up and walk to class because there were not enough racks at the building in which they have class.  Carpooling should be encouraged by having reduced parking rates for those who have more than 2 people in their vehicle.  All other parking prices should be raised to discourage people from driving to school/work.  A new rate program could be implimented so that the price of parking is geared to the number of people in the vehicle.  An example of this would be that there would be a flat rate and then a certain amount is deducted from that rate for each extra person in the vehicle.  Therefore, the more people that are in the vehicle the larger the amount that would be deducted from the flat rate and thus making it cheaper to park.  Ring road should be used only by university vehicles, bikes and the transit system.  A program that provides incentives for those who use mass transportation should be implemented on the UW campus.  This type of program could be one that uses the Watcard as a bus pass.  This would allow the University students to pay a flat price that would be included in tuition, making it cheaper to ride the bus. 
 
 

   ATTITUDES
 

     The attitudes of the staff and faculty of UW  must be changed in order to have a
sustainable campus.  Environmental education is a way to help change these attitudes.  The university could offer seminars that are mandatory for all staff and students of UW.  This would allow people to see what can be done on campus to be sustainable and show them what they can personally do.  Also,  some sort of environmental education should be a prerequisite for all departments and faculties on campus.  This sort of education could also be extended to the community of Waterloo in order to help make the area around UW aware of sustainability and how it can be reached.
 
     The University of Waterloo campus would be different if all of these factors were
implemented.  There would be a higher level of awareness about the environment,
sustainability and how we can become involved.  There would be less waste on campus through composting and recycling, the ecosystem would return to its healthy state through the introduction of native species, and there would be a reduction in the consumption of water, energy, and fuel on campus.

     We believe that if all of the above factors are carefully looked at and they ideas
implemented then the University of Waterloo would become a sustainable campus.  We would know that it is sustainable when reductions in the amount of waste and consumption occur, when modes of transportation are changed and when the attitudes and awareness of the students and staff of UW are focused on the issue of sustainability.