6th Annual Catalyst Awards [2016]

The Office of Sustainability is proud to recognize the diverse efforts that take place at McGill to grow toward campus sustainability. In 2016, our annual Catalyst Awards Gala was redesigned to recognize the acheivements of individuals and groups across the five categories of McGill's Vision 2020 Sustainability Strategy: Research, Education, Connectivity, Operations, and Governance & Administration, while continuing to recognize one ourstanding student with the Emerald Key award.

Emerald Key

The Emerald Key is given out to a student who has made an outstanding and enduring contribution to the sustainability movement at McGill University. 
Amelia Brinkerhoff            Emerald Key 2016

The Catalyst Awards from the Office of Sustainability

The Catalyst Awards are given out to projects that have contributed to the sustainability movement at McGill University in the following categories:
Kohlrabi Collective

Sustainability in Research Award 2016

BCom Major and Concentration in Managing for Sustainability

Sustainability in Education Award 2016


Sustainability in Connectivity Award 2016

Sustainable Procurement Strategic Plan

Sustainability in Operations Award 2016

Enrolment Services Sustainability in Governance & Administration Award 2016


Amelia Brinkerhoff (Emerald Key Award)

Amelia Brinkerhoff is a recent graduate of the Agricultural and Environmental Sciences program at the McGill School of Environment. She is passionate yet pragmatic about driving institutional change in sustainability at McGill, and her involvement in urban food systems is based on her belief that universities should practice what they’re teaching. As the Sustainability Coordinator for McGill’s Student Housing and Hospitality Services for three years, Amelia helped drive long-term commitments and collaborations, and has been a key force behind a culture of sustainable food engagement at McGill. She ensured that SHHS went beyond applied research collaborations to institutionalize the results into departmental practices. After learning about Montreal’s waste system in the Montreal Urban Sustainability Experience program, she successfully convinced the department and took on the task of converting SHHS's waste system to one that was more sustainable, informed by applied student research, and run with the help of McGill students. As coordinator of the SSMU Sustainability Case Competition for two years, Amelia worked to open up topics of sustainable campus spaces and ethical investments to a diverse group of students, while encouraging interdisciplinary dialogues about complex issues and collaborating with Montreal-wide stakeholders for mentorship. As the co-founder and director of the Market Cooperative, she has poured energy into building a creative, local community and student space that encourages supporting local artists and vendors, and better connects McGill and Montreal communities. Through all of this, Amelia has also loved volunteering with the McGill Farmer’s Market, the McGill Food Systems Project, and Santropol Roulant. Amelia is energized by the diverse and enthusiastic group of individuals working on sustainability in Montreal and at McGill, and feels fortunate to be a part of this vibrant community!

Kohlrabi Collective (Catalyst Award for Sustainability in Research)

The Kohlrabi Collective represents the unification of three student-run projects that produce and distribute local food at McGill - the Macdonald Student-Run Ecological Garden, the McGill Farmers’ Market, and Organic Campus. The Collective was formed through an applied student research project initiated by Matt McCormick in Fall 2015. As an active member of McGill’s student food systems network, Matt realized that these projects were trying to achieve similar goals, but were not working together. As a result of this disconnect, each group was experiencing challenges, including financial insecurity and lack of community engagement. Matt met with project members to identify some of these challenges, and encouraged each project to imagine a more connected local food system in which groups shared resources, knowledge, and campus connections to achieve their common goal. As a result, the Kohlrabi collective was born. Why the Kohlrabi Collective? A kohlrabi is a temperature-tolerant vegetable that grows well in variable climates. It embodies the spirit of Montreal’s local food movement, and is a symbol of strength and resilience. Now, in the Summer and Fall of 2016, the McGill Farmers’ Market, the Macdonald Student-Run Ecological Garden, and Organic Campus will be working together to provide the McGill community with better access to fresh food produced by McGill students!

McGill BCom Major and Concentration in Managing for Sustainability (Catalyst Award for Sustainability in Education)

Traditionally, management education has emphasized economic value at the potential expense of ecological and social well-being. In a move toward a more holistic approach to management, the Desautels Faculty of Management, the McGill School of Environment, and the Department of Geography collaborated to advance sustainability in management curricula. 

The result is two new ‘Managing for Sustainability’ (MSUS) undergraduate programs for McGill Bachelor of Commerce students pursuing marketing, finance, accounting, operations, organizational behaviour, information systems, or strategy paths. The program’s first graduates convocated in May 2015, entering the workforce with a strong understanding of what sustainability means and how it relates to their role within an organization. A unique aspect of the major is the inclusion of 21 credits from the McGill School of Environment and Department of Geography, leading to the development of graduates who can integrate traditional business skills with environmental knowledge and social sensitivities. Through diverse course offerings across different faculties, students acquire knowledge and skills that equip them to work across boundaries. The impacts of these programs will be transformative for students entering the world as the decision-makers of tomorrow. The success of the programs was made possible through extensive interdisciplinary collaboration: faculty members and staff from the Desautels Faculty of Management and the McGill School of Environment worked together through curriculum development, learning outcomes, and administrative processes. Many staff members attested to gaining a new perspective and dimension to their roles. Student academic advisors can now speak to the basic concepts of sustainability, and career advisors are equipped to provide guidance on green career paths. Faculty members who had considered creating sustainability courses not only found their ideas supported and legitimized, but discovered like-minded colleagues across multiple areas. Several new courses were co-proposed by faculty members from different areas and are currently being team-taught. With these new programs, sustainability has been embedded on a deeper level into the Desautels faculty culture.


ECOLE (Catalyst Award for Sustainability in Connectivity)

ECOLE is a physical hub for sustainable living, applied student research, and community-building for the McGill and Montreal communities. Led by 10 live-in student researchers and a diverse collective, it facilitates a culture of sustainability by providing space, resources, and networks to connect student groups, faculty, and staff members involved in socially and materially sustainable actions.  ECOLE integrates the many projects related to environmental/social sustainability on campus and provides a home for applied student research related to social justice, environmental sustainability, and anti-oppressive principles. Two years in, the ECOLE Project house - formerly a MORE house - is now a central and essential meeting space which facilitates collaborations and dialogue between sustainability groups and the larger Milton Parc community in Montreal. Hundreds of students, faculty, and Milton-Parc community members use the space for regular meetings, cinema screenings, professor talks, panel events, open mics, and more. ECOLE is an established community space for anti-oppressive principles and safe space mechanisms - people of all races and gender identities feel welcome at ECOLE. The ECOLE Collective strives towards a safer space by encouraging space-users to acknowledge traditional lands, self-identify through personal gender pronouns, and integrating regular check-ins and consensus-based decision-making into Collective meetings. As a hub for the sustainability community, ECOLE extensively promotes events on campus and sustainability-related community gatherings which happen at the house, and they regularly host skillshare workshops to encourage alternative education methods. Creating a campus hub for sustainability at McGill was an enormous undertaking - ECOLE continues to strive toward its mandate of creating a more connected sustainability community each day! The project was a labour of love by several coordinators, staff members at SEDE and MOOS, and a diverse team of collective and board members, and it would not have been possible without years of conversations, brainstorming, and visioning.

Sustainable Procurement Strategic Plan (Catalyst Award for Sustainability in Operations)

The Sustainable Procurement (SP) Core Team is a permanent working-group that brings together dedicated McGill staff, faculty, and students. Thanks to their diligent work, SP Core Team members developed the University’s vision for Sustainable Procurement and a series of key objectives and projects designed to operationalize and institutionalize this vision. The main output of their work, McGill University’s Sustainable Procurement Strategic Plan represents McGill’s first sub-institutional sustainability strategy. The strategy rests upon the respect of triple bottom line (social, economic, environmental) principles, and the use of lifecycle thinking to make the University’s supply chain more sustainable. As part of its planning objectives, and in order to bring in-depth, long-lasting change, the SP Core Team focused on SP leadership, education, and awareness, and the use of particular resources to embed sustainability in McGill’s procurement processes and decision-making. The SP Core Team meets 3 times per year to monitor the Strategic Plan’s implementation, assess advancement, and provide guidance and support. So far, projects under the Strategic Plan have led to many outstanding results, including a sustainable procurement training, a supplier code of conduct for all future business agreements, McGill’s first IT Asset Management Regulation which rethinks equipment management in line with the University’s 4-R hierarchy (Rethink, Reduce, Reuse and Recycle), and the development of 7 applied student research projects, which allowed 40 McGill students to work on procurement-related projects. 

Enrolment Services (Catalyst Award for Sustainability in Governance & Administration)

Enrolment Services is often the first place that students approach when they arrive at McGill. , Enrolment Services understands that first impressions are crucial, whether they happen on a campus tour with the Welcome Centre, by checking out the prospective students’ website, or through stopping by Service Point for a visit. The Enrolment Services unit consists of 120 employees, including a 10-person leadership team, all of whom take pride in sustainability in their personal and professional lives. Enrolment Services has expressed and embedded the 'spirit of sustainability' in many of their initiatives and projects over the past year. These extend beyond environmental sustainability to include organizational development, inclusivity, and the sustainable use of resources to conduct their business. A few examples are: the online eCalendar (reduces use of paper and makes it easier to search for courses), AskMcGill and  the McGill mobile app (reduces use of paper, improves accessibility, improves event findability and makes it easy to connect with classmates), the new admissions site (replaces paper Viewbooks), job shadowing and succession planning (creates better connections throughout the campus, providing students with better service and less runaround), inclusivity (the involvement of diverse groups in most initiatives including implementation of the preferred first name policy), and, of course, the ‘green wall’ located in Service Point. Among many other benefits, the ‘green wall’ vertical garden is a living work of art that purifies the air, provides the team with a connection to nature and beautifies the workspace.

Complete List of Catalyst Awards 2016 Nominees:

Amelia Brinkerhoff*
Anna Cecilia Portillo
Courtney Ayukawa
Educational Community Living Environment (ECOLE Project)*
Enrolment Services Sustainability Initiatives*
Ian Tattersfield
Jean Yves Taranger
Kohlrabi Collective*
Les Poules du Campus Macdonald (PPCM)
McGill Bachelor of Commerce Major and Concentration in Managing for Sustainability
McGill Faculty & Librarians for Divestment
McGill Spaces Project
McGill Sustainability Research Symposium
Model United Nations Framework Convention for Climate Change (MUNF3C)
Pull Systems for Consumables
Sustainable Chemistry: a tool to engage and empower students
Sustainable Procurement Strategic Plan*
Training Teachers for Sustainability
Valérie Toupin-Dubé
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