Air Pollution Control
Facility owners and regulatory agencies need effective methods for preventing release of hazardous substances into the atmosphere and assessing the impacts of odorous emissions on communities. Researchers in the Faculty are developing methods to control volatile emissions and assess the compliance of industrial and agricultural operations with regulatory requirements. For example, research is being pursued to develop new approaches to sequester the greenhouse gas CO2.
New and Alternative Energy
Research projects in this area focus on the development of clean, renewable and alternative energy supplies including wind power, the integration of alternative energy sources into the electricity grid, clean combustion, fuel cells, photovoltaic solar cells, gas hydrates, biohydrogen production, alternative fuels and biofuels, efficient electric motors, and electric vehicles.
The accurate prediction of the movement of toxic and hazardous materials in the geosphere is crucial to the environmental decision making process. Computational and experimental research in this field will identify solutions and approaches to the management of hazardous waste associated with deep geologic storage of high-level nuclear waste, remediation of contaminated geomaterials, energy resources exploration and disposal of resulting wastes, barriers for landfill waste sites and the sequestration of carbon dioxide in deep saline aquifers.
The ocean has long been considered as the ultimate receiving body for waterborne waste products. Laboratory experiments and numerical models are developed to improve predictions of pollutant dispersion at the local or regional scale. Rivers have been regulated, straightened and controlled to increase cultivable area and attempt to reduce flood risk. Current research aims to use the rivers’ natural buffering and variability to reduce flood risk and improve habitat.
Water Resources Management
Internationally it has been recognized that the most important challenge to ensuring sustainable water use is implementing integrated water resources management (IWRM). It provides the best framework for balancing the competing demands for water and facilitating collaboration between political entities and agencies. IWRM requires comprehensive data on the basin (physical and socio-economic) and models of the physical systems (hydrology, hydrogeology, hydraulics). Analysis of the current governance and management then provides the basis for developing improvements in the socio-economic management of the resource which must be placed within the local governance and legal frameworks.
Selected engineered nanomaterials hold promise in the remediation of contaminated soils and waters. Some of these nanomaterials also pose an environmental or public health hazard due to their small size and high reactivity. Ongoing research projects are aimed at examining the potential cytotoxicity and environmental risks associated with the use of engineering nanomaterials.
Green Chemistry and Green Engineering
The design of chemical products and processes that reduce or eliminate the use and generation of hazardous substances provides a number of benefits including reduced waste, reduced use of energy and natural resources, and safer products and processes.
Remediation of Contaminated Soils
There exist in Canada several sites contaminated with hazardous and petroleum-based wastes. Remediation of such sites is particularly challenging in the Canadian Arctic where low temperatures hinder bioremediation efforts. We are conducting research to develop effective bioremediation strategies for contaminated soils.
Water Pollution Control
Technologies for wastewater treatment are being investigated using both biological and physicochemical processes. We are also examining approaches to prevent microbial and chemical contaminants from entering public drinking water supplies and developing novel sensing devices to detect the presence of harmful pollutants in such water supplies.
Sustainable Homes and Communities
Research and teaching in the School of Architecture explores various facets of sustainability. It covers large-scale issues such as urban design as well as communities whose principles include walkability, consideration of site conditions, local climate, as well as urban agriculture. Work is also being carried out on the building scale. Choice of building products made of recycled materials, as well as passive solar gain are explored.
Sustainable Urban Environments
Faculty research in this theme is conducted in the following areas: Active transportation; alternative transport fuels; environmental assessment and management; environmental policy analysis; GIS applications in urban planning; international development law; land tenure and housing; land use and transportation planning; landscape planning; agricultural law; neighbourhood planning and university-community partnerships; planning in developing countries; quality of life in residential environments; transit planning and operations; urban design; and urban infrastructure and services.