"The University has a goal of being net-zero, however, they are not close to reaching their goals. The University needs to take a more aggressive approach by holding itself as an institution accountable instead of shifting the blame on students. There is also an issue with students becoming apathetic to sustainability messaging because of the blame language used. We need to commit to reinvigorating the student population and holding the University accountable, through the creation of policy and immediate stopgap solutions."
Envirowestern is committed to starting a community garden, which will allow students to participate in growing activities and will connect students with the land. They are currently in conversations with Facilities Management about securing a space beside Talbot College. If they need additional support, I will have a seat at The Open Space and Landscaping Plan Committee, where I can further present their case. When the space is secured, I want to work collaboratively with Envirowestern to make the garden a site of environmental education. The students charged with Environmental Education and the Executive Growers should be compensated for their labour through an honorarium which will add further validity to their work.
Decolonizing Sustainability Practices
Indigenous peoples have long-standing relationships with the land, their relationships have allowed them to become the best stewards of the land. I want to acknowledge my own role as a settler, as a settler, I do not have these same relationships with the land that Indigenous communities have fostered over their shared histories. Indigenous leaders should be invited into the decision-making space and should always be guaranteed a seat at the table when it comes to making any efforts to engage with sustainability. Considering the USC and Western’s history of oppression against Indigenous communities, we must take the utmost care when offering them a seat as to not engage in tokenistic representation, this is about allowing them to guide us and compensating them for the work that they are contributing to the broader sustainability goals of the University.
The University needs to take a more aggressive approach to adopt sustainable infrastructure, which should be done in collaboration with the office of Western Sustainability. These mechanisms directly reduce the emissions created by the institution while also providing the opportunity to hire students to get involved with sustainability, further complimenting our goal for paid work experience. These projects are long-term goals for the University, which should be adopted by 2025:
Research labs are some of the biggest consumers of energy on campus. This is due to the high fresh air flows through the labs for maintaining safety and comfort. As there is no recirculation of air in labs, large amounts of heating and cooling energy are required for maintaining safe indoor air temperature and humidity levels. Using a DCV will eventually create long-term cost savings for the school as demonstrated by the success at McMaster, with savings occurring in energy, gas, and Energy Incentives.
Solar water heating projects work to decrease greenhouse gas emissions, while also providing the University with cost-saving measures. Water heating currently relies on the burning of greenhouse gasses which contribute to Western’s total emissions. A Solar Water Heating Project will allow The University to approach its goal of net-zero if it is adopted in multiple buildings across campus.
Seeing as COVID has introduced a paperless modality in submissions of assignments, we as an Institution should keep these same practices even as we transition to in person learning. In-person submissions create unnecessary wastage and printing.