Throughout the winter and into the spring of 2011, three Wilfrid Laurier University students – Mara Silvestri, Sarah Morgan and Jennifer Carreiro teamed up withSustainable Waterloo Region to profile three members of the Regional Carbon Initiative for Sustainable Waterloo Region’s 2nd Annual Evening of Recognition. As part of a class project, the group visited the sites of Pano Cap Canada, Enermodal Engineering and the City of Waterloo to highlight some of the initiatives each organization has undertaken to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions. The group is happily sharing their experiences with Sustainable Waterloo Region to draw attention to the measures being taken by organizations across Waterloo Region to increase the environmental sustainability of our community.
City of Waterloo’s LEED Candidate Fire Station #4
Our third and final stop was the City of Waterloo’s LEED Silver candidate fire station #4 located at 911 University Avenue East in Waterloo; the city’s first constructed LEED silver building. There we met with Jean Starchuk, Project Manager in Asset Management.
When I first learned of fire station, I was intrigued because I’d never considered a fire station as a candidate for LEED certification. Jean gave us an overview of the sustainability features of the facility which include:
- Accessibility considerations in site selection to encourage alternative transportation methods for fire fighters to get to work
- On-site bike racks and showers
- Low flow fixtures
- A cistern that collects rain water from the roof
- 33% energy savings compared to other buildings
- Recycled, locally produced building materials where possible
Much of the focus of GS 451: City Worlds – the course for which we undertook this project – is on making ourselves aware of and critically analyzing some of the unique challenges and characteristics of global cities and trends that can be realized through the ways in which residents and cities themselves respond to these challenges. Sustainable Waterloo Region presents an interesting opportunity for the private sector, government, non-profit organizations, academia and individual actors to collectively and collaboratively address the challenge of climate change on a local level.
During our interview, Jean acknowledged that cities as infrastructural entities as well as corporations have a huge impact on GHG emissions whether it is directly through building facilities or indirectly through other operations. She also noted that in an effort to address their environmental impact, the City adopted a Green Building Policy in 2008 through which all newly constructed facilities of a certain size must be built to at least LEED silver certification. Jean also noted that the City is also about to embark on their Environmental Strategy and Energy Management Plan. This is a plan, approved by city council to reduce the City’s greenhouse gas emissions and energy consumption by 30% in city owned facilities. These facilities include things as diverse as arenas, fire stations, swimming pools, street lighting, parks and City Hall.
Hearing the initiatives being undertaken by the City of Waterloo was very inspiring to consider the conscience through which the City seems to be operating and the lengths they are willing to go to embrace the improvement of the sustainability of their operations. This is particularly important in the face of such stagnated action at the federal and international levels. As a few speakers alluded to during Sustainable Waterloo Region’s Evening of Recognition, the reality is that given the inaction of leaders at higher levels of government, the responsibility largely falls to municipalities, individuals and organizations to take the lead on environmental initiatives to reduce GHG emissions.
This is where organizations like Sustainable Waterloo Region are able to fill the void to provide leadership and act as a facilitator for collaboration for such actions at the regional level. As a hub for sharing best practices and assisting organizations in reporting on their greenhouse gas emissions, Sustainable Waterloo Region is truly helping to build an inspiring community built on action.