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The greening of the Tricolour

The greening of the Tricolour

There’s much talk these days about “green initiatives”, but at Queen’s and in the wider Queen’s community actions speak far louder than words.

[photo of Principal Woolf with students]Principal Woolf (centre) with students

This “green-themed” issue of the Review provides a timely opportunity to showcase the many exciting and environmentally friendly activities, programs, and initiatives members of the Queen’s community are involved in – here on campus, across the country, and around the world. Queen’s people are in the vanguard of green researchers, business leaders, activists and professionals who are working to protect the Earth’s valuable resources.

In Where Next?, my Vision Statement that launched our year-long academic planning process in January, I noted the advanced research happening at Queen’s in such key areas as fuel cell technology, green chemistry, nuclear materials and environmental policy.

The 2007 launch of Innovation Park at Queen’s University on property leased from its industrial anchor, Novelis Inc., provides space and a nurturing environment for some of our experts from these fields to work side-by-side with industry partners creating, developing and marketing their innovations to the world.

GreenCentre Canada (GCC), scheduled to move into Innovation Park in June, is the world’s first Green Chemistry commercialization centre. A coup for Queen’s and PARTEQ, which is the University’s technology transfer arm, GCC was launched last year with funding from the federal and provincial governments. It’s one of 15 national Centres of Excellence for Commercialization and Research.

GCC has already secured eight industrial partners and received more than 80 technology disclosures for scientific testing and review from researchers across Canada.

The Centre’s technical director, Queen’s Chemistry professor Philip Jessop, is himself leading several innovative environmental projects (see page 24 in this issue). Another team at GCC is developing green methods for removing harmful metals from waste water.

These initiatives fit nicely with the sustainability work being done locally by the Kingston Economic Development Corporation and the city – and are consistent with Kingston’s aspirations to become Canada’s most sustainable city.

I foresee Queen’s playing a prominent partnership role in the implementation of the Sustainable Kingston Plan, which is rapidly gaining momentum. Many green Queen’s initiatives align with the four pillars of the city’s plan: economic, environmental, cultural and social.

Professors, students, and staff of the University are active participants in the process. For example, Master’s students from the School of Urban and Regional Planning have provided input on residential development to ensure it supports community sustainability.

Queen’s is also having an impact nationally and around the globe.

School of Policy Studies Director Peter Harrison has been named chair of the pivotal wrap-up conference of the International Polar Year, to be held in Montreal in 2012. “From Knowledge to Action” will focus on global issues such as climate change and sustainable resource development in polar regions.

On campus, our innovative students have driven many effective projects, working with the University’s Sustainability Office. We will be installing vending machine “misers” that turn off the lights when the machines aren’t in use and now have residence vermicomposting, which uses worms to break down vegetable and other food waste.

After attending the annual meeting of the Clinton Global Initiative University with colleagues and students in April, I have also committed Queen’s to banning the sale of bottled water on campus. A plan will be in place by September 2010 for limiting and ending the sale of bottled water within five years or subject to contractual obligations with the University’s beverage providers. This commitment puts Queen’s at the forefront of Ontario universities for sustainable water practices.

Last November I was one of 19 heads of Ontario universities and colleges to sign a made-in-Ontario sustainability pledge. In February, flanked by members of the student environmental-activist group Queen’s Backing Action on Climate Change (QBACC), I also signed a made-in-Canada sustainability pledge. The ­University and College Presidents’ Climate Change Statement of Action for Canada has now been endorsed by the heads of 23 Canadian institutions.

Queen’s has committed to setting ­reduction targets, conducting an annual greenhouse gas inventory, developing an institutional climate action plan and working cooperatively with governments, the business community and other institutions to help slow the trate of global ­climate change.

These are only the first steps in what must be a multi-pronged long-term ­approach to developing an achievable position to advance sustainability at Queen’s and in our wider constituency.

In recent months the staff from our Sustainability Office have been gathering input to create a strategic framework for our goals and future direction. An advisory committee composed of some of the University’s leading environmental and sustainability researchers, students, and members of the Sustainability Office and Physical Plant team will provide input and guidance. As an institution we must – and will – work together to be leaders in creating a greener world for future generations.

[Queen's Alumni Review 2010-2 cover]