Every year on May 22, the United Nations (UN) observes The International Day for Biological Diversity to highlight innovative solutions to the biodiversity crisis. This year’s theme is centered on the actions to build back biodiversity with the adoption of the Kunming-Montreal Global Biodiversity Framework at COP 15. The framework highlights four goals along with 23 targets to achieve by 2030, with the UN Environment Program encouraging businesses and people alike to spend the month of May taking small actions to preserve biodiversity.
At Canadian Colleges for a Resilient Recovery (C2R2), we work with industry partners that are not only working to preserve Canada’s rich ecosystems but are also releasing timely research to address the best approaches for our country to bolster its economy while protecting biodiversity.
Canada houses a vast range of biodiversity hubs, with forests being one of the most prominent. According to the State of Canada Forestry Report, our country is home to nine per cent of the world’s forests, and forestry makes up nearly 40 per cent of our landscape, making us reliant on forests for many benefits. In line with the theme of this year’s biodiversity day, Forest Products Association of Canada (FPAC), a C2R2 National Industry Partner (NIAC), released their conservation report to outline the practices, achievements and contributions to Canada’s forestry sector for the conservation of our forests and planet.
Conservation Forestry – Careful Use of Canada’s Forest Resources highlights the many ways that conservation serves as a core principle of sustainable forest management in Canada so that forests will remain healthy and resilient and continue to support and enrich the lives of Canadians for generations to come.
Through innovation, sustainable practices, and a zero-waste approach, Canadian forestry can work with nature to extend the amount of carbon captured from forests to build more sustainable communities, reduce our reliance on fossil fuels, reimagine the products we use every day and create green jobs for the next generation.
Interested in learning more? Read the full report here.
The protection of biodiversity is necessary for the well-being of our planet and communities. To truly protect our biodiversity in Canada, industries need to shift from economic practices that negatively impact the environment toward nature conservation solutions.
By 2030, an estimated 208,700 new clean energy jobs will be added to the Canadian job market, according to a report from Clean Energy Canada – only a portion of the potential job opportunities that could become available with the adoption of green practices. This far exceeds the 125,800 jobs lost in fossil fuels, but to maximize the benefit, strategies backed by practice or research must be adopted by industries as we shift to a clean economy.
There is much to learn about the nature conservation workforce, the challenges it faces, and how those challenges can be addressed. ECO Canada, a C2R2 NIAC member, released The Nature Conservation Sector Profile, a study that begins to fill this knowledge gap by describing the nature conservation workforce and exploring the human resource strategies needed to support its growth and ensure equity.
The study also revealed potential strategies and solutions to address nature conservation workforce needs and gaps. These include:
Interested in learning more? Read the full report here.
Establishing an economy that protects our biodiversity while increasing job opportunities is going to be a long journey as countries begin to explore the opportunities within nature conservation. With sector industries – like those that make up our NIAC – pioneering the transition with research, advocacy and implementation, it is with no doubt that Canada will achieve a just transition with minimal economic impact.
Home to over 213 public higher education institutions, Canada is recognized as a global contributor to quality research, education and training. The extent of Canadian post-secondary institutions’ leadership does not stop at research and education, however. Canadian institutions are trailblazers in the shift toward more nature-conscious developments in the education and research they disseminate as well as the environments they occupy.
With the theme of this month’s International Biodiversity Day being From Agreement to Action: Build Back Biodiversity, it is important to recognize that building biodiversity starts in our own communities. Canadian colleges, cégeps, institutes and polytechnics play a critical role in communities, and are uniquely approaching the protection of biodiversity and green life at home.
From building green buildings, to holding our institutions accountable, to allocating funding toward environmental protection, our coalition members are taking the actions needed to preserve biodiversity.
Highlighted below are case studies from three of our members that local and global institutions alike can learn from going forward.
1) PUTTING BIODIVERSITY PRESERVATION AND SUSTAINABILITY FRONT AND CENTRE WHEN UPGRADING OLD BUILDINGS OR BUILDING NEW ONES
Seneca Polytechnic is embarking on a multi-million-dollar capital project to develop a health and wellness complex infused with Indigenous design, sustainability and inclusion.
Landscaped outdoor space surrounding the Centre will provide opportunities to engage with nature. Highlights include a central drum courtyard with a fire pit, an extensive arrangement of native plants and trees, regenerative forest, earth mounds and a teaching and leisure rooftop terrace.
Affirming the commitment to being the sustainable Seneca, a multitude of green building practices will be incorporated, including mass timber, rainwater harvesting, solar energy, geothermal energy, renewable building materials, green roofing, and designing for resilience and operational sustainability.
Read the full story here.
2) HOLDING YOUR INSTITUTION ACCOUNTABLE FOR SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT AND ENVIRONMENTAL PROTECTION THROUGH REPORTING
Red River College Polytechnic (RRC Polytech) is celebrating the achievement of receiving a STARS Silver Rating in recognition of its sustainability achievements from the Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education, or AASHE. With more than 900 participants in 40 countries, AASHE’s STARS program is the most widely recognized framework in the world for publicly reporting comprehensive information related to a college or university’s sustainability performance.
Highlights of RRC Polytech’s recent sustainability efforts include the construction of the new Manitou a bi Bii daziigae building, designed to LEED Gold standards, and the coordinated efforts to re-use and donate over 1,900 furniture items and 3.5 tonnes of books and household items during the move of the Language Training Centre from its old location into the new building.
Read the full story here.
3) ALLOCATING DONATIONS AND FUNDING TO PROTECTING THE ENVIRONMENT OF THE COMMUNITY YOUR INSTITUTION OCCUPIES
A $2.6 million donation of a 12-acre property of environmental and historical significance will enable Holland College to establish the John and Christine Andrew Centre of Excellence in Watershed Management in East Royalty.
The donation is the largest single gift in the history of the college. President Dr. Alexander (Sandy) MacDonald said the generosity of the Andrew family and their desire to ensure that the property remains protected, sustainable, and accessible to the public, is a tribute to their commitment to the environment and to the community.
The property will be used for education, research, and activities that improve environmental and watershed sustainability. The college plans to partner with the federal and provincial governments and Island watershed groups to preserve and maintain the pond and forest.
Read the full story here.
This year began on a high note for many Canadian colleges as multiple institutions were recognized for their innovation in research on Research Infosource Inc.’s list of Canada’s Top 50 Research Colleges for 2022.
The list recognizes colleges that have fulfilled extraordinary achievements in both research income and research published in scientific journals throughout the 2020-2021 year.
Canadian Colleges for a Resilient Recovery (C2R2) was particularly excited to see 10 of its coalition members featured on the list, include British Columbia Institute of Technology (BCIT), Southern Alberta Institution of Technology (SAIT), Red River College Polytechnic (RRC Polytech), Mohawk College, Saskatchewan Polytechnic (Sask. Polytech), Cégep Rimouski, Holland College, Nova Scotia Community College (NSCC) and Algonquin College.
Our coalition members produce exceptional research in various sectors which earned them their rankings. For instance:
These examples are just a few of the many research projects our members are conducting that prepare Canada for a green future. C2R2 has seen the impact of the work of these institutions in the environmental sector, and is excited to help magnify their efforts.
While having this research out there helps us understand best practices in shifting to a clean economy, it is critical that we work together to implement the findings of this research on a micro-level to support the transition away from carbon-intensive practices.
“With its connections to institutions across the country, C2R2 is uniquely positioned to make the complex knowledge of these institutions accessible and applicable to Canadian workers at a local level, preparing the Canadian economy for the transition to net zero,” states Paul Armstrong, C2R2 Steering Group Chair & Mohawk College Chief Operating Officer.
With funding from the Government of Canada’s Sectoral Workforce Solutions Program, C2R2 is making this a reality with Quick Train Canada—a program that offers microcredentials to Canadian workers who are looking to upgrade their skills as industries shift to more sustainable practices. To learn more about how we are working with these institutions to strengthen our workforce in the face of a rapidly changing economic landscape, visit quicktraincanada.ca.
The British Columbia Institute of Technology’s acclaimed podcast Fireweed returns – with a special focus on adaptability and resilience. In episode 1 Host Bianca Rego learns about regenerative travel — the movement that encourages travelers to leave their destination better than it was before. She talks to two Davids — BCIT instructor David Tikkanen and David Leventhal from the Regenerative Travel group of resorts — about how travelling can help make the world a better place. And she meets Randy Louie, a cultural guide at the Klahoose First Nation Wilderness Resort on BC’s Sunshine Coast.
The Town of Bridgewater has made a name for itself as a community that is going above and beyond to tackle climate change and affordable housing challenges. Continuously thinking outside of the box, Bridgewater’s investments in green business ideas and research have attracted entrepreneurs and innovators with similar ambitions to work in this thriving Nova Scotian town.
Energize Bridgewater aims to reduce energy poverty and address the climate crisis in a way that includes the most vulnerable residents of the community. This visionary work presented an ideal opportunity to collaborate with the Nova Scotia Community College’s (NSCC) Applied Energy Research Lab. Led by Dr. Wayne Groszko, the AERLab works with industry and communities to solve energy challenges.
“Our lab has extensive experience in energy monitoring and communicating data-driven findings related to energy use,” said Dr. Groszko. “We decided to work together to develop a proof-of-concept for a residential energy management information system. This project draws on my team’s skills and aligns with the Town’s goals.”
Jessica McDonald, the Town of Bridgewater’s Energize Bridgewater Project Director, explains how an energy management information system is an important piece of supporting infrastructure and will help them meet their ambitious goals:
The sophisticated system measures data such as household energy consumption, heating performance, air quality and many other vital pieces of information. What makes this project unique is that this complex system that is usually only available for larger commercial buildings will be deployed community-wide at the household level. Even more interesting is that these systems will first be offered to households in situations where it is difficult for them to pay their energy bills.
“Nova Scotia has one of the highest rates of energy poverty in the country,” said Bridgewater’s mayor, David Mitchell. “The Town of Bridgewater envisions a future for our community where energy poverty reduction strategies work together with clean and efficient energy systems to confront energy poverty at its core.”
Dr. Groszko and his team are currently testing the proof-of-concept for the energy management information system in their lab at Ivany Campus in Dartmouth. They hope to participate in field trials with beta-test users in the coming months.
“We are preparing the scope of work for the field-testing stage and for the design of a follow-up support system,” said Groszko. “This next step speaks to the relationship between the energy management information system and the residents who will be invited to make use of it. It will address questions on how to make the information understandable and actionable, how residents will know if their energy situation is improving and who to call if they have a question. We are part of the team that will be looking at these human factors.”
NSCC is excited to be working with the Town of Bridgewater on this forward-thinking project. Once it is operating, this project could be used in communities across Canada to provide residents with information on their energy usage and show them ways to save money and reduce their carbon footprint.
Image: Aerial imagery of the Northumberland Shore coastline. The left image was taken before Hurricane Fiona, the right after.
Coastal flooding and erosion in Atlantic Canada have always been a concern but never more so than now as climate change is impacting the region more frequently and intensely than ever before.
Nova Scotia Community College’s (NSCC) dedicated team of coastal mapping researchers have developed an online tool to help Atlantic Canadians prepare for coastal flooding from storms. Combining years of mapping data from past projects with high-resolution elevation data collected from an aircraft using lidar technology, NSCC’s Applied Geomatics Research Group (AGRG) constructed an online flood risk mapping system.
AGRG has been conducting flood studies for coastal communities for many years now. They have been sharing their data with municipalities, provincial governments, Environment and Climate Change Canada and the Emergency Management Office of Nova Scotia to help them project what past benchmark storms would look like in the future with increased sea-level rise.
There are many factors to consider when predicting flooding, such as predicted tide, storm surge and total water levels. In the past, understanding and layering the different flood factors could be confusing since the marine and land components use different vertical references, AGRG wanted to simplify the process for users. They applied for and received funding from the Emergency Preparedness Program to build a web-based system that would link all the data in one space, known as their Emergency Coastal Flooding Decision Support System.
The online tool links predicted tide and storm surge, up to 10 days in advance, interactively with the flood map. When the user clicks on the water level chart, the flood inundation map is automatically updated. Users can increase the water level using a vertical slider bar to incorporate the potential effects of waves and long-term sea-level rise. There’s also an option to overlay the flood layer with critical infrastructure like roads, locations of fire, police and ambulance service, and continuing care facilities to determine if they are at risk of flooding.
Dr. Tim Webster explains what drove him and his team to pursue this project:
“The goal of this project was to allow easy access to lidar maps and the coastal flood layers. It provides valuable information for surge predictions from storms and hurricanes as well as for people wanting to do long-term planning that need to consider sea-level rise in the next 50 to 100 years. For example, many planners use the tool when looking at infrastructure that could be vulnerable or planning new infrastructure that is expected to have a lifespan of over 50 years.
One of the biggest impacts for Atlantic Canada from climate change will be increased sea-level rise. This tool allows people to raise the sea-level and see what will get flooded.”
AGRG’s flood risk support system was in high demand leading up to and following Hurricane Fiona which made landfall on Sept 24, 2022. Dr. Webster noted, “The site was accessed by lots of people prior to Fiona making landfall and it did not crash which was a test of its design and implementation using ESRI GIS tools.”
More impressive still, was that the predictive models were quite accurate. While their system showed the same variation in the total water level along the Northumberland Shore and were consistent with the Environment and Climate Change Canada storm surge predictions, Dr. Webster and team were still impressed by the power of the storm which resulted in a significant amount of damage to coastal features.
Thank you to Environment and Climate Change Canada for supplying the storm surge predictions, Department of Fisheries and Oceans for supplying the predicted tide and all three Maritime Provinces who have supported the project and provided data on the location of their emergency services. A special shout out to the Province of Nova Scotia’s GeoNova, who is currently testing the system on one of their web servers. They plan to eventually host the site as a secondary location to support their mandate of access to geographic information that helps people make better decisions. This project was funded by Defense Research and Development Canada.
“These batteries come in all different sizes, but the one we’re looking at is primarily for a residential home and it’s meant to replace a hot water tank,” says Willson, Principal Investigator, Smart Building Management with SAIT’s Applied Research and Innovation Services (ARIS).
Unlike a hot water tank, the battery contains a more energy-dense material. This phase-change material allows increased excess heat to be captured in the appliance with a much smaller form factor. Hot water is not stored in the battery — instead, energy is transferred to cold water, through a phase change in the material. It releases the stored thermal energy to heat the water, operating essentially as hot water on demand.
The team testing this application have all studied at SAIT.
Willson is a graduate of the SAIT Information Technology program, and Julio Jacome de Paz, Project Coordinator, graduated from the Mechanical Engineering Technology program. Maeric Rico, the student working on software to analyze the data from the flow and temperature sensors, studied Computer Science and graduated from the Civil Engineering Technology program.
ARIS has partnered with Home Completions on the project. Additionally, as part of bringing energy solutions to the province, this project received funding from Alberta Innovates through the Campus Alberta Small Business Engagement program and Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council funding through the Applied Research and Development for Colleges program. The mCHP was donated from ATCO as part of a previous research project and continues to be used in cold weather climate research today.
“Through this project, we’re aiming to get data by testing this unique systems integration. The results may also be useful in applications such as powering off-grid buildings, better use of solar photovoltaic energy, more effective use of mechanical systems or in commercial electric vehicles to maintain a consistent heat, even in winter,” says Willson.
The team is evaluating the performance of the mCHP and the thermal battery as one system to determine the most efficient way to store the thermal energy released during the power generation process, and to be used later as hot water on demand, primarily in residential homes. The key to a more sustainable energy system is the commercially available thermal battery.
The second potential outcome is improved reliability of the mCHP when operated as part of this system.
“One of the downfalls from our past research of mCHPs is, when you’re running the generator to produce power for your building, it also has to produce heat and that heat has to go somewhere,” says Willson.
When the mCHP overheats, it turns off, regardless of whether you still need electricity. The integration of the thermal battery will provide another larger outlet for the excess heat.
“You can use wasted heat for other things, in this case the hot water tank and the thermal battery in a home or building, but the applications are anywhere that you would want to generate power on site,” says Willson.
Combining heat and power for efficiencies is an old idea, but as more energy dense material is developed, new applications are tested and power demand is better understood, there’s more opportunity to increase the efficiency of our energy use and its sustainability. This is the type of innovation and applied research ARIS continues to investigate as part of its commitment to building integrated renewable energy. Read more about ARIS’ recent projects and learn more about how we work with industry partners to find applied research solutions as one of Canada’s top applied research colleges.
Rising yearly temperatures, regular occurrences of wildfires and progressively warmer waters are just some of the many reasons we all must do our part in the fight for a healthier, happier planet.
Algonquin College has joined millions of organizations globally in embracing sustainability as a strategy that drives better business performance, innovation, new employment opportunities, greater social equity and a healthier planet.
In 2013, Algonquin College launched a Sustainability Strategy Framework guided by the S-E-E model which would incorporate the three pillars of sustainability, social, economic and environmental. The framework shaped many of the College’s practices and decisions related to College affairs and curriculum over the years, including LEED certification for new buildings, introduction of environmentally focused programs and effective implementation of energy saving measures.
Now, almost ten years later, this framework continues to guide Algonquin College’s earth friendly efforts. But the prevailing realities of climate change only grow harsher with each passing year, signaling the need for a renewed commitment to sustainability, climate action and environmentalism.
While it’s common to think of sustainability as a matter of environmental initiatives, meeting present and future human needs involves a much larger spectrum of considerations. Algonquin College’s approach to sustainability equally weighs economic and social considerations against environmental ones.
Algonquin College offers a wide range of programs that teach skills essential to navigating and mitigating new challenges brought on by climate change. From firefighters to green architects, the College prepares learners for their stewardship in what will be a critical path forward. Not only will firefighters need to adapt to an increase in extreme weather incidents, but so will nurses, respiratory therapists, wastewater technicians, and many others.
Algonquin College’s Pre-service Firefighter and Education Training Program offers learners a hands-on opportunity to acquire crucial firefighter competencies and skills. Shaping graduates into capable and dynamic individuals prepared to confidently manage and mitigate the unfortunate fallout of extreme weather.
Algonquin College’s renewed commitment to sustainability focuses on providing a post-secondary education that shapes learners into global citizens capable of creating a better future for all.
Three postsecondary institutions are working with industry partners to address the skills shortage in Ontario’s screen-based industries.
Centennial College, Fanshawe and Seneca have collaborated to develop a suite of eight microcredentials designed to help industry professionals upskill and current students who are content creators learn additional in-demand production and technology skills.
With film and television production at record levels in Ontario, employers are reporting difficulty finding enough qualified workers with up-to-date skills in industry-standard technologies.
“This suite of microcredentials gives students a real advantage in developing the skills that will lead them to employment in Ontario’s screen-based industries,” said Kurt Muller, Dean, Faculty of Communications, Art and Design, Seneca. “We’re working with industry leaders to offer training on the platforms and technologies that are being used in film and television right now, meaning graduates of these courses will emerge ready to immediately join the workforce.”
Credentials offered through this first-of-its-kind partnership include Grip/Lighting and Television and Film Production Accounting Basic Skills from Centennial College; Location Sound, Previsualization and Virtual Production – Unreal from Fanshawe; and Virtual Production – Unity and two microcredentials in Avid skills from Seneca.
Courses will be taught by respected industry professionals and offered online, in person and through hybrid delivery, helping students balance work priorities and learn from wherever they are in Ontario.
This collaboration is developed with funding from the Ministry of Colleges and Universities’ Challenge Fund and the support of industry partners Avid, The Stratagem Group and Unity.
“Stratagem is delighted to support this project and is encouraged to see these dynamic colleges working in collaboration to help address this acute labour shortage across Ontario,” said Jeff Melanson, Partner, The Strategem Group.
Also partnering on the project is POV, which will help members of equity-deserving groups access the microcredentials and diversify representation in Ontario’s screen-based industries.
To learn more about these microcredentials and register today, visit Centennial College, Fanshawe and Seneca online.
Both our indoor and outdoor spaces affect the learning blueprint and our environmental footprint. We commit to improving our learning spaces while reducing our impact. ~ Shaping Futures, Holland College’s strategic plan.
Holland College has more than 900,000 square feet in structures ranging in age from over 90 to just a few of years old in nine campuses and centres across Prince Edward Island. The challenge of maintaining all the buildings was staggering, and deferred maintenance was beginning to take its toll.
A decade ago, the college undertook two ambitious projects: the construction of the Centre for Applied Sciences and Technology (CAST) and the establishment of the Summerside Waterfront Campus. Each project was unique. CAST is a world-recognized Green Globes building, one of only a few in North America. The Summerside Waterfront Campus was a massive renovation project that transformed an aging shopping mall into a building which houses most of the college’s Industrial Trades and Technology programs, the Adult Education programs for that region of the province, and full-time programs in computer studies and health.
Since the completion of those projects, and with motivation from the goals outlined in a new strategic plan, Holland College has embarked on approximately $15 million in renovations and improvements.
With a focus on each of the buildings’ mechanical systems, building envelope, roof replacement, interior finishes, and electrical systems, the college has:
This year, the college will undergo a carbon audit, which will help shape future sustainability projects in Holland College locations across Prince Edward Island.