Creative sustainability project earns McGill students top prize in national competition


Greenhouse envisioned by Chemical Engineering students picked out of 132 projects

The ingenious idea of two McGill University students to redirect and transform energy from a campus powerhouse to a rooftop greenhouse was awarded the first prize in the fourth annual TD Go Green Challenge. The TD Friends of the Environment Foundation (TD FEF) announced today the winners of this year’s competition at a news conference held at McGill.

David Morris and Omer Dor, students in the Department of Chemical Engineering, won the top prize out of 132 projects submitted from 59 schools for their proposal of the Integrated Energy and Food Greenhouse. Not only will the team receive $20,000 and a paid internship with TD FEF, but the Foundation will also award $100,000 to McGill toward greening the campus. Morris’s and Dor’s submission was sponsored by Professor Alejandro Rey, James McGill Professor in Chemical Engineering.

“I want to thank the TD Friends of the Environment Foundation for their generous gift and the exciting opportunities the Go Green Challenge offers students. Congratulations to Mr. Morris and Mr. Dor, as well as Professor Rey, for this achievement and the creative and innovative thinking that made their project the winning submission,” said Prof. Heather Munroe-Blum, McGill’s Principal and Vice-Chancellor. “McGill is committed to being a leader in sustainable development and I am proud to say that original student-led projects have been at the forefront of our efforts to achieve the highest possible standards of environmental sustainability on our campuses.”

The annual TD Go Green Challenge is a national competition inviting Canadian post-secondary students to explore and offer solutions to sustainability issues. This year’s competition focused on sustainability and environmental stewardship on-campus.

“This year marks the fourth TD Go Green Challenge and I was amazed by the innovative entries we received,” said Mary Desjardins, Executive Director, TD Friends of the Environment Foundation.  “The McGill team’s creative proposal to support the environment on campus really stood out above all others, and it is our immense pleasure to award them the grand prize in the Go Green Challenge.”

The Integrated Energy and Food Greenhouse imagined by Morris and Dor would redirect greenhouse gas emissions from the Ferrier powerhouse, which provides heat and hot water to McGill’s downtown campus. Wasted energy would be transformed to help grow food crops year round on top of the Ferrier building and produce carbon-neutral biodiesel fuel. (A video describing the team’s project can be viewed at

The team’s project is only the latest example of how McGill students have contributed to the development of a culture of sustainability on the McGill campuses. David Morris is the current director of Gorilla Composting, which promotes organic waste composting and teamed up with McGill’s Office of Sustainability to purchase an industrial-size composter in 2010. Also, McGill students voted overwhelmingly in 2009 to contribute 50 cents per credit of coursework in support of sustainability projects. With matching funds from the University, this will generate $800,000 per year for the Sustainability Projects Fund, launched in 2010 to help finance student and staff-initiated projects.

Other recent sustainability initiatives at McGill include eliminating all but essential vehicle traffic on the lower campus and turning McTavish Street into a pedestrian zone, as well as a multi-year plan aimed at reducing McGill’s energy consumption by 14 per cent by 2012-2013.

This gift from TD FEF adds to the momentum of Campaign McGill: History in the Making, which is raising the funds needed to attract and retain top students and faculty, increase access to quality education, and ensure that McGill remains one of the world’s great research-intensive and student-centred universities.

For more information about sustainability at McGill:

For more information about the TD Go Green Challenge:




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Julie Fortier
Media Relations Office, McGill University
julie.c.fortier [at]
Office Phone: 
514 398-6751