Sustainability: uOttawa’s road to eco-excellence (Part 1)

Posted on Wednesday, September 9, 2015

By Brandon Gillet

Over the past few years the University’s Office of Campus Sustainability (OCS) has implemented major initiatives to make uOttawa one of the most environmentally sustainable campuses in the country. In the coming weeks, the Gazette will provide details on our many sustainability initiatives.

But first, let’s take a trip back in time to look at some of our milestone achievements in sustainability.

1967: The space in front of Tabaret, which became a parking lot in the 1950s, is turned into the green Tabaret Lawn we all know. Following suit today, parking lot X, in front of the Social Sciences Building, is being transformed into the new University Square, a green, open space for students.


Front of Tabaret Hall c.1950's

“We used to run car-free days in parking lot X with the idea that they would eventually shut the lot down,” said Jonathan Rausseo, campus sustainability manager. “We set up things like badminton games. We had a choir come in once and sing about how traffic sucks. Eventually, someone looked at the space and made the comparison, saying ‘Why isn’t this like Tabaret Lawn?’”

1974: The University hires its first energy manager amidst the oil crisis. When the crisis ends, uOttawa’s energy manager remains and the position is maintained until now.

“It was totally in fashion and everyone was hiring one,” says Rausseo. “The next year the crisis disappeared so everyone fired their energy managers. Ours stayed on.”

1992: Protection Services forms the Bike Patrol on campus to cut down on vehicle emissions and improve response time. In 2007, its entire fleet of vehicles is converted to hybrid models.

1999: The Grande Allée (the walkway from the Social Sciences Building to Tabaret Hall) is converted from a small street into a pedestrian path. Prior to this, many commuters would use the road as a short-cut to the highway, causing heavy traffic right through the centre of campus.

“When I was a student here, it was a two-way traffic street,” said Rausseo. “It was brutal. There was basically no sidewalk.”

2006: The Office of Campus Sustainability is established to take the lead in creating new and innovative ways to reduce energy consumption and the University’s carbon footprint. This results in new energy efficient buildings like FSS as well considerable reduction in waste and use of water.

2008: The Ethical Purchasing Policy, which caters to the social side of sustainability, is adopted. The policy basically ensures socially acceptable and ethical practices in dealings with outside sources. For example, anything that sports the uOttawa logo can’t be made from sweatshop labor.

“It (sweatshop labour) doesn’t make sense and it’s not right,” said Rausseo. “That policy really helped us in our push for things like the fair trade campus.”

2015:  The new 24/7 Dining Hall offers choices for any craving, including fair trade and gluten-free options. Moreover, the dining hall is a zero-waste facility.

“There’s just no garbage. We’re actually not even installing garbage bins,” Rausseo said.

And if you think our past is amazing, stay tuned to find out about all the interesting current initiatives and research projects that are making uOttawa one of the most eco-friendly campuses in Canada.

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