Sustainability takes centre stage

(Edmonton) The University of Alberta and the Office of Sustainability are gearing up for the fifth annual Sustainability Awareness Week, running Oct. 17–23. This year, 30 student groups and campus organizations have joined forces with the Office of Sustainability to produce 50 sustainability-related events designed to celebrate sustainability initiatives on campus and help the university community learn more about environmental, economic and social sustainability.

According to Office of Sustainability’s director, Trina Innes, Sustainability Awareness Week gives many groups a chance to work together to promote awareness of the university’s commitment to sustainability.

“By the end of the week, we hope that members of our campus community will have discovered something new about sustainability, made a commitment to adopt a new sustainable practice and encouraged others to do the same,” said Innes.

Almost all tours, workshops, panels and presentations are free and are open to everyone.

Sustainability Awareness Week officially kicks off on Monday, Oct. 17 in Quad on North Campus with a bike-powered concert by Music is a Weapon, an Edmonton-based non-profit organization dedicated to empowering communities through art. Treats will be available between 11:30 a.m. and 1:30 p.m., and students, faculty and staff can learn more about the diverse events happening on North Campus, Campus Saint-Jean and Augustana Campus during the week.

Other events being hosted include green building tours delivered by the lead architects of the Centennial Centre for Interdisciplinary Sciences and the Edmonton Clinic Health Academy. The tours will highlight the features that make the buildings innovative and two of the greenest on campus.

Food events have become a staple during SAW and many offer local, organic options to attendees. Throughout the week, Engrained Café, a new market-style eatery on campus in the new ECHA building, will highlight its local food selections, while Augustana Campus will showcase its sustainable food policy by offering a locally-sourced lunch.

This year, SAW has also added a high quality energy-environment talk with a production standard beyond a webinar or classroom lecture. “Think Energy: How Sustainable is the Oilsands in Alberta?” will bring together leading experts to Myer Horowitz theatre to present their ideas on the current challenges in Alberta’s energy-environment paradigm in a TED Talk-like format. Hosted by the University of Alberta Energy Club and ABCampusTech and sponsored by the Center for Applied Business on Research and Environment, this presentation features speakers that will provide three alternative perspectives on oil sands from the university, government and industry.

For more information about all of the SAW 2011 workshops, tours, discussions and events, please visit sustainability.ualberta.ca/saw.