A group of people clap for a woman, overlaid with a teal-navy gradient

Catalyst Awards

The Catalyst Awards, awarded between 2011 and 2022, recognized students, staff, and faculty who made meaningful and enduring contributions to the sustainability movement at McGill University.

Their purpose was to acknowledge and celebrate those who motivated action and led the way towards integrating sustainability into McGill’s operations, curriculum, and culture, celebrating the leaders and changemakers in our community.

Past Catalyst Award Winners


Quang Anh Nguyen, Emerald Key Award

Quang Anh Nguyen is a fourth-year undergraduate student, majoring in Chemical Engineering, with a minor in Environmental Engineering. Originally from Vietnam, Nguyen was drawn to McGill to pursue his passion for connecting disciplines in hopes of solving pressing societal challenges related to climate and sustainability.

Through his time at McGill, Nguyen has immersed himself in student life, becoming a leader and creating opportunities for other students to follow in his footsteps. As president of the Research & Sustainability Network (RSN) for the 2020-2021 and 2021-2022 academic years, Nguyen created several avenues to connect the McGill sustainability community and guide students as they prepare to begin their careers. These include the RSN Mentorship Program, which paired more than 120 students with graduate researchers, the University’s first sustainability case competition, which challenged students to develop policy programs to tackle environmental racism, and a podcast about sustainability-related careers.

Nguyen’s commitment to sustainability at McGill extended beyond the RSN. As a team member of the 200 Urban Garden program and Co-President of the McGill Consulting Association (MCA), Nguyen continued to promote notions of climate and sustainability across various areas of the University, working towards his goal of increasing awareness of interdisciplinary approaches to social and environmental problems.

Dr. Catherine Potvin, Faculty & Staff Award

Dr. Catherine Potvin, a professor in the Department of Biology and Canada Research Chair in Climate Change Mitigation and Tropical Forests (Tier 1), has embodied the principles of sustainability throughout her career, going above and beyond the requirements of her position as a biologist and professor.

Dr. Potvin has made several long-lasting contributions to McGill’s culture of sustainability, from scholarly networks to a reforestation project. She creates high-risk, high-reward partnerships for the University that bring academia and science to the field of practice. Such notable contributions include the annual Panama Field Study Semester, which brings McGill and Panamanian student together for on-the-ground training, the McGill Sustainability Sytems Initiative “Sustainability Transitions” theme, and the establishment of a UNESCO Chair at McGill for Dialogues on Sustainability with the misson to foster dialogues on sustainability and engance national and international political discourse with science-based evidenced.

Beyond her impact through the teaching and training of hundreds of undergraduate students, Dr. Potvin has created lasting change on campus and beyond through her leadership related to the Bayano-McGill Reforestation Project. Based on a long-nurtured relationship with the Indigenous Embera communities in Panama, Dr. Potvin facilitated the creation of an agreement that has seen more than 28,000 trees planted to help offset McGill emissions related to air travel and commuting, thus contributing to McGill’s long-term target of carbon neutrality by 2040.

impact200, Group Initiative Award

impact200, also known as the Bicentennial Student Sustainability Challenge (BSSC), was a flagship program of McGill’s bicentennial celebrations. The competition challenged students to come together to pitch innovations in sustainability that could have wide-reaching impacts on the city, the province, and the world. It set a new framework to think about how students, staff, and community members could sustainably chart McGill’s next 200 years.

impact200 held collaboration at its core, having been led by equal parts students, staff and faculty while facilitating the participation of McGill units, such as the Dobson Centre, the McGill Sustainability Systems Initiative, the McGill Office of Sustainability, and a number of faculties. The challenge saw hundreds of students submit proposals and provided 50 students from 10 finalist teams with the space, time, and financial support to create proofs-of-concept, showcasing their sustainability-focused ideas, ranging from increased green space on campus, mitigating food waste, and addressing mental health.

Notably, impact200 ensured that the challenge did not end at its awards gala. The project leadership has ensured that competitors are may continue to develop their ideas and to institutionalize their projects for sustainable innovation on campus and within the Montreal community.


Chloë Ryan, Emerald Key Award

Chloë Ryan is a third-year undergraduate student studying mechanical engineering. Throughout her time at McGill, Chloë has put efforts towards turning her ideas into reality, empowering fellow students to create a more equitable and sustainable future.

In her second year, Chloë, as VP Internal of Sustainability in Engineering at McGill (SEAM), founded a cross-faculty consulting team. Under her leadership, the consulting team worked with their faculty student society to identify problem areas and implement sustainable practices. Chloë was also one of the co-founders of the BRIDGE Sustainability Case Competition, an interdisciplinary case competition that aims to break down the boundaries between the fields of engineering and business to tackle complex, multi-faceted sustainability challenges. Through her work, Chloë has placed an emphasis on including diverse perspectives to ensure that social sustainability remains a key part of the conversation.

Nate Quitoriano, Faculty & Staff Award

Prof. Nate Quitoriano, Ph.D., P.Eng, is an Associate Professor in the Department of Mining and Materials Engineering, Director of the Materials Engineering Co-op Program, and Founding Director of goLEAD, an initiative that empowers students to set and achieve their goals to better the world.

Prompted first in October 2016, Quitoriano was motivated to kickstart the goLEAD program after identifying a missing niche for engineering students: applied leadership skill development. Through goLEAD, Nate has brought together students, faculty, staff and alumni towards his vision of hands-on leadership to address various challenges outlined by UN Sustainable Development Goals. Quitoriano highlights the importance of the three pillars of sustainability during activity-based workshops and through regular feedback, which facilitates hands-on experience on how to apply sustainability concepts to a variety of projects.

Green Labs Initiative at The Neuro, Group Initiative Award

The Green Labs Initiative at The Neuro began as a group of students who were deeply concerned about the significant environmental costs of scientific research. After receiving a McGill Sustainability Projects Fund grant in 2018, the team initiated infrastructural and cultural changes at The Neuro (Montreal Neurological Institute-Hospital) to tackle research-related waste. In the years since their project has now inspired labs across McGill and beyond to adopt green lab practices.

Beyond reducing lab material waste through recycling programs, this originally student-led initiative has built a community of environmentally-conscious scientists across McGill, now including lab managers, faculty and other key stakeholders. Through outreach events and awareness campaigns, the Green Labs Initiative at the Neuro team first recruited 20 Green Lab Ambassadors from over 12 labs and has since inspired at least 8 other departments to kick-start their own initiatives.

The current Green Labs Initiative at the Neuro team includes Kuhlmann, Jana Schüttpelz, Theresa Degenhard, Nina Caporicci-Dinucci, Pascale Patenaude, Claire Honda, Alexandra Chapleau, Maleeha Khan, and Ghislaine Deyab.


Charles Choi, Emerald Key Award

Charles Choi majored in Political Science and Canadian Studies, with a minor in History. As the 2019-2020 President of SSMU DriveSafe—a student-led volunteer service that offers students free drives home on selected nights—Charles extended the service area of DriveSafe's operations to included areas with limited public transportation options (such as to the Mohawk Territory of Kahnawà:ke, the Montreal South Shore, and Macdonald campus) and pursued purchasing carbon offsets for DriveSafe to ultimately lead them to becoming carbon neutral. Charles also worked with DriveSafe to commit their operations to becoming a fully electric fleet by 2030.

Michael Bleho, Distinguished Contribution Award

As Coordinator of the Horticulture Research Centre at the Macdonald Campus Farm, Michael has demonstrated his commitment to sustainability through his daily interactions with students and his work making the agricultural process more eco-friendly throughout his 30 years at the Centre. Michael was a driving force in establishing ‘McGill Feeding McGill’, an initiative which directly provides Macdonald Campus produce to campus dining halls. With funding from the Sustainability Projects Fund, Michael and a team of students planted a new orchard at Macdonald Farm which uses special watering technology to reduce ground space and requires fewer passes with tractors.

Jonathan Rousham, Staff Contribution to Sustainability Award

Jonathan Rousham, Maintenance Manager at SHHS/Facilities, has combined his strong belief in sustainability with his responsibility overseeing maintenance of 37 residence buildings on campus. Jonathan prioritizes sustainability in all his renovations by opting for durable materials as demonstrated by his sustainable, waste-minimized renovation of all 105 apartments in Solin Hall in 2019. In addition to his renovations, Jonathan hired a sustainability assistant to provide him with a direct link to students living in residence and co-organized a power reduction competition to encourage students to practice sustainability in residence.

Sustainability Research Symposium, Sustainability in Research & Education Award

The Sustainability Research Symposium (SRS) is an annual student-led, interdisciplinary event for McGill students interested in sustainability research. The one-day event features speakers, student research presentations, workshops, and networking opportunities with the goal of connecting students from different disciplines. Now in its tenth year, the SRS operates on the belief that exploring the many axes (social, economic, environmental) of sustainability with peers from different academic backgrounds is imperative to sustainability research.

It Takes All of Us, Sustainability in Connectivity & Governance Award

It Takes All of Us (ITAOU): Creating a Campus Free from Sexual Violence, is a new mandatory online learning program for all McGill community members. ITAOU is building a campus free of sexual violence and creating a culture based on respect and consent. The development of ITAOU involved students, staff, and faculty, and has helped create safer, more inclusive spaces.

Ecological Improvement of Dairy Cow Pastures at Macdonald Campus Farm, Sustainability in Operations Awards

The Ecological Improvement of Dairy Cow Pastures project has created a sustainable pasture system at the Macdonald Campus Farm which features a rotational grazing system for cattle, the addition of approximately 700 trees and shrubs, the installation of water lines for access to fresh water, and the purchase of a mobile shade umbrella to protect cattle from the sun. The re-design of the pastures has led to improved animal well-being and reduced machinery usage. Led by Maxime Leduc and Paul Meldrum, and run by a team of staff and student employees, the pasture improvements allow the pasturing of dairy cattle to work in harmony with the environment and creates new habitats for birds and insects.


Julien Tremblay-Gravel, Emerald Key Award

Julien Tremblay-Gravel is a Bachelor of Common Law (LLB) and Civil Law (BCL) candidate in the McGill Faculty of Law and holds a Master’s degree in experimental surgery-orthopaedics. Through his involvement with various groups and projects, both on and off campus, Julien is constantly working to build a culture of sustainability on campus. As the 2017-2018 Community Affairs Commissioner for the Student Society of McGill University (SSMU), Julien helped organize the Trash2Treasure pilot project, which saw five ton of household items diverted from landfills and helped furnish the homes of 19 refugee families. He has also notably spearheaded a study of the Faculty of Law’s environmental impacts in preparation for a unit-level Climate and Sustainability Action Plan.

George McCourt, Distinguished Contribution Awards

George McCourt’s commitment to sustainability has been a cornerstone of his 21-year career at McGill. Through his teaching and research in both the School of Environment and Faculty of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences, George encourages students to apply a sustainability lens to work that impacts their broader communities, often using the campus as a living lab under the Applied Student Research project model. This work includes research-based initiatives that have allowed for the creation of a food waste composting plan for all of downtown McGill’s Food and Dining Services and the development of a process that led to McGill becoming the first Canadian university to obtain a sustainable seafood purchasing certification for all of the seafood served in its residences. A key stakeholder in McGill’s sustainability journey, George has also been an integral part of the Sustainability Projects Fund’s evolution and the development of the University’s Climate and Sustainability Action Plans. 

McGill Sustainability Systems Initiative, Sustainability in Research & Education Award

The McGill Sustainability Systems Initiative brings together scholars from a variety of disciplines with the goal of advancing the University’s capacity for and contribution to sustainability research. The initiative makes space for researchers to reach across fields, allowing experts from sciences and humanities to co-develop significant, impactful and socially relevant advances that move society towards a sustainable model of existence. In the last year, MSSI launched a dashboard that highlights the inter-faculty collaborations and research impacts of its more than 120 members. The dashboard also links MSSI members’ research to the 17 United Nations Sustainability Development Goals.

Desautels Sustainability Network, Sustainability in Connectivity & Governance Award

The student-led Desautels Sustainability Network (DSN) promotes a culture of sustainable business practices with the goal of empowering students by giving them access to the resources needed to fully understand the opportunities in sustainable business. In 2019, the organization also brought back the Desautels Business Conference on Sustainability, connecting 250 students with 30 industry leaders, making it Montreal's largest (student-led) conference on sustainable business, in addition to other events and long-term projects. Throughout the year, DSN brought together over 1000 students, 50 industry leaders, and 30 student organizations from McGill and other Montreal universities, helping to establish a citywide network of students, faculty and community members interested in sustainable business practices.

MealCare, Sustainability in Operations Awards

MealCare create a more sustainable food system by diverting surplus food from cafeterias and other vendors at McGill, and donating this food to local homeless shelters and soup kitchens. MealCare tackles food waste, as well as food insecurity. At McGill, MealCare’s student volunteers have diverted over 6,100 pounds of food from being thrown away from their various partners, representing over 6,700 meals donated to those in need. This effort has contributed to the University’s efforts to decrease its waste. As the group grows, it intends on expanding their on-campus partnerships to work with all food vendors at McGill to ultimately divert all surplus edible food from landfill to local community partners. MealCare is also dedicated to educating the community, specifically youth, on topics of food waste with the intention of helping decrease household food waste. Since its inception, MealCare's co-founders have spread MealCare creating chapters in Ottawa and Guelph, bringing the total amount of meals diverted to over 10,500 across Canada.

Angelo Battista, Staff Contribution to Sustainability Award

While overseeing the physical infrastructure of the downtown athletics facilities, Angelo Battista goes above and beyond to incorporate sustainable practices wherever he can. When upgrading infrastructure, Angelo selects sustainable options when available such as LED light fixtures, low flow showers and more efficient HVAC systems. However, he also understands that upgrading the facility is not enough and that a culture shift is necessary to make daily operations as sustainable as possible. Within the last year, Angelo led a project to create a sustainability action plan for the Athletics and Recreation department, ensuring that the plan stretched beyond facilities and infrastructure and included outreach, education and advocacy.


Amir Nosrat, Emerald Key Award

Amir is a PhD student at the Faculty of Management researching the impact of climate risks on business practices and their ability to access finance. During his time at McGill, Amir has served as the Environment Commissioner for the Post-Graduate Students Society in 2015 and 2016. As part of his mandate, Amir represented graduate students at the Sustainability Projects Funds and supported various initiatives to promote environmental sustainability on campus. Notably, Amir facilitated conversations between different stakeholders on campus for McGill to hire a climate officer and to commit to carbon neutrality. Amir has also supported the creation of innovative educational workshops surrounding climate change, gardening, and ecologically friendly lifestyles. 

Chuck Adler, Distinguished Contribution Award

For 44 years, Chuck Adler dedicated his career to making McGill University a better place to study, live, and work. As Director of Campus and Space Planning for 20 years, his legacy at McGill is not only reflected in the many projects and plans that transformed McGill’s campuses into more sustainable and human-centred spaces, he also modelled how we ought to work together to create lasting and positive change, that is, with patience, care, collaboration, and inquiry. Chuck was integral in leading the decision to pedestrianize the downtown campus, which resulted in a significant reduction in surface parking spaces on and around the campus and played a major role in the campus' ongoing shift towards active transporation methods. Furthermore, Chuck's leadership resulted in redesigning key areas on campus, like James Square, to create more functional green spaces that better encourage social interaction and exchange—an idea which continues to be realized across McGill’s exterior spaces. Chuck also led the development of McGill's Physical Master Plan in 2008, which defined a number of sustainable practices to guide all future development on campus, from increasing cyclist connectivity to improving campus accessibility. Furthermore, Chuck mentored the Office of Sustainability throughout its establishment and development, and can proudly share in many of its achievements over the years. 

Louise Lockhart, Staff Contribution to Sustainability Award

As a full-time nurse with McGill Health Services, Louise has gone above and beyond her role in the clinic to promote healthier habits and lifestyles to students and staff throughout McGill University. Understanding that lack of knowledge and other social factors impede one's ability to take control of one's health, Louise has worked tirelessly to bridge this gap in innovative and accessible ways. Notably, Louise spearheaded the Spin Bike Garden Project, a program that promotes mental health and wellness through through physical exercise. Campus users can use spin bikes in four underutilized spaces around the downtown campus surrounded by plants and meditative art, which can help reduce stress and boost energy in the spaces they are learning and working. She also co-created Exercise for Mood with Counselling services, a 9-week program, designed especially for individuals who have struggled to embed regular exercise into their routines. Louise sees student patients full time in clinic appointments where, along with the other nurses, she is very intentional about educating each patient so that they are best equipped to manage their health, reduce suffering, and increase autonomy.

Deep Performance Dwelling, Sustainability in Research & Education Award

TeamMTL is a collaboration of students and faculty members from McGill and Concordia universities participating in the international Solar Decathlon China 2018 competition. The competition challenges each team to design and build a net-zero energy, single-family home designed to the highest standards of sustainability. TeamMTL’s proposal, the Deep-Performance Dwelling (DPD), is a high-performance Montreal row house designed to Passive House standards, that holistically addresses both quantitative and qualitative notions of sustainability. This research project has brought together over a hundred students from more than 10 departments working in an integrative and dynamic collaboration to design, prototype, and build the next generation of urban housing. One of the team’s key priorities is to raise awareness of climate change, renewable energy, and sustainable building innovation. Over the past two years, TeamMTL has continuously promoted its research efforts in achieving a more sustainable world through a series of presentations, conferences, events and guided tours of the DPD prototype to sensitize and educate both the university’s student body and the general public.

SPF Referendum Yes Campaigns, Sustainability in Connectivity & Governance Award

Every 5 years, the Sustainability Projects Fund (SPF) – the largest campus sustainability fund of its kind in North America allocating approximately $885,000 per year for sustainability projects at McGill – is up for referendum to assure its continuation. In fall 2017, the Sustainability Projects Fund (SPF) was up for referendum by SSMU, MCSS, and PGSS. Leaders in all three student societies coordinated a campus-wide, two-week campaign to get their fellow students to vote for the SPF, which eventually passed with 81% yes for SSMU and 98% yes for MCSS. The campaigns reached over 15,000 students in total, while fostering a close collaboration between Mac and Downtown campus. Within the SPF itself, a large category is the possibility of future institutionalization. Therefore, by nature, the team's work will lead to the realization of many other sustainability projects in the long term. As of April 2, 2018, the Post-Graduate Student Society also voted in favour of continuing funding for the SPF. With the confirmed support of all three student societies, the SPF will continue on for 5 years

Sustainable Orientation, Sustainability in Operations Awards

Sustainable Orientation Project aimed to improve the sustainability of the 2017-2018 student orientation in order to normalize such practices for first-year students as they enter the university. The project managed to include sustainability in training, logistics, and marketing materials to promote sustainable habits and programs at McGill. The project coordinator trained all orientation leaders, using a sustainable event checklist, researched sustainable alternatives (bags, t-shirts, paper, inks, swag, dishes, etc.) and compiled this information for future frosh organizers to increase institutionalization. By working with Faculty Frosh organizers, each faculty frosh create a sustainability coordinator position, some faculty orientation events followed the Sustainable Event Guide, and all frosh bags were of jute, a renewable and low-impact material. In addition, the project worked with SSMU to create a sustainability-themed student handbook with recycled paper and vegetable-based inks that integrated information on living sustainably and getting involved in sustainability initiatives at McGill.

Julia Freeman, Faculty Contribution to Sustainability Award

Julia Freeman is a Faculty Lecturer at the McGill School of Environment and holds a PhD in Resource Management and Environmental Studies from the University of British Columbia. She is the coordinator of, and an instructor for, the undergraduate field study “Montreal’s Urban Sustainability Experience” (MUSE) where students get their hands dirty learning about the city’s natural history and sustainability challenges. She is an advocate for applied student research at McGill, supervising honours and independent study projects investigating various dimensions of sustainability, from environmental racism to municipal composting. Beyond her roles in teaching and mentoring, Julia has served the McGill community as a Vision 2020 Connectivity Action Team Member, and a former member of the ECOLE Project’s Board of Directors. Julia is currently Chair of the Undergraduate Academic Committee for the School of Environment where she is responsible for overseeing the MSE undergraduate program, with more than 325 Environment Major students, on both campuses. And when spring arrives she looks forward to growing as many pollinator friendly plants as will fit on her deck.


John Lindsay, Emerald Key Award

John is a U3 student studying Environmental Science (Renewable Resource Management) in the Faculty of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences. Academically, he used lessons learned from the multi-disciplinary environment program to create two research courses to study sustainable institutional food procurement. One was an applied student research project with eight other students, called ‘The Real Food Challenge’, which seeks to use third-party certifications to shift away from industrial junk food toward sustainable ‘Real Food’ in campus cafeterias. The other was his honours project, titled “Socially-Sustainable Food Procurement for McGill University”, where he has researched theoretical and practical limitations and opportunities to improving the social sustainability of food procurement at McGill.

John’s experiences with McGill Food & Dining, the McGill Food Systems Project, the McGill Farmers’ Market, Santropol Roulant, and the McGill Sustainable Procurement team has allowed him to learn about operational barriers to improving campus sustainability. Through his work as Food & Dining Sustainability Coordinator, John has expanded the scale and impact of food and waste education initiatives while improving food procurement auditing and reporting to better assess and actualize changes in institutional food procurement. Over the past year, John has taken great interest in improving the scope and impact of fair trade on campus and these efforts were recognized when McGill received its ‘Fair Trade Campus of the Year Award’ for excellence in educational and operational commitment to fair trade.

SHHS Waste Educator Program, Sustainability in Research & Education Award

McGill’s Student Waste Educator program aims to engage students of McGill with Montreal’s waste management system, while teaching them how to reduce their impact through proper recycling and composting. The program structure is simple: environmentally-minded students are employed to stand next to waste sorting stations in all residence cafeterias for two weeks at the beginning of each school year to demonstrate McGill's commitment to sustainability from day one. The Waste Educators are instructed to provide kind, helpful advice to anyone who is not yet aware of the waste categories McGill offers, and engage in more thorough conversations about the impacts of improper sorting. Through this format, almost every first year residence student is reached, with the hope that they will carry this knowledge forward into life after rez. This year, over 200,000 liters of compost were collected in cafeterias; this equates to more than 80,000 liters of agricultural-grade soil created and 190 tonnes of greenhouse gas emissions reduced. This would not have been possible without the dedicated and continual efforts of the Waste Educators.

Supplier Code of Conduct, Sustainability in Connectivity, Governance & Administration Award

Mr. François Pouliot has been the Director of McGill University’s Procurement Services since 2011. Under his dynamic leadership, the University adopted its first Procurement Policy, its first Strategic Plan for Sustainable Procurement, and now, its first Supplier Code of Conduct, which applies to all McGill suppliers. The Supplier Code of Conduct establishes and communicates the social, ethical and environmental principles which McGill suppliers must meet in order to conduct business with the University. The document highlights the importance of respecting internationally recognized human rights, labour standards, basic animal freedoms, as well as business transparency mechanisms and the commitment to more sustainable supply chains.   

IT Asset Management Regulation, Sustainability in Operations Award

The adoption of this Regulation represents the University’s first initiative to optimize the “gate to gate” life cycle of its IT assets by effectively operationalizing McGill’s 4-R Hierarchy (Rethink, Reduce, Reuse, Recycle). Under the IT Asset Management Regulation, minimum standard requirements (including sustainability criteria) have been adopted for the purchase of different IT equipment categories. Selected equipment contain fewer toxic components, contain greater recycled content, and consume less energy. McGill’s computers are now tracked, main IT flows (computers, displays and cell phones) are subject to reuse within the University, or are refurbished for reuse outside the University, when possible. New contracts have been signed with 1) a local, certified, non-profit refurbishing organisation which runs a reintegration program and 2) a local, certified recycler. Both entities have been extensively audited by McGill’s Environmental Health and Safety team. The IT Asset Management Regulation came about from the close collaboration between Procurement Services, IT Services and Facilities Management and Ancillary Services. It now serves as the blueprint for the development of other asset management initiatives at McGill.


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, Sustainability in Research Award

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, Sustainability in Education Award

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, Sustainability in Connectivity Award

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, Sustainability in Operations Award

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, Sustainability in Governance & Administration Award

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.


Alan Chen, Emerald Key Award

Powered by rollerblades and a compassion for community, Alan Chen is infectiously enthusiastic about fostering sustainability and driving institutional change at McGill.  As the Director of the McGill Spaces Project (MSP), he has played a critical role in driving a long-term vision for better connected campus spaces while shaping the nascent group into McGill's “go-to” organization for better understanding and transforming spaces on campus. Now a potent force for change, the MSP pursues an umbrella of placemaking and space-transformation initiatives across campus through cross-collaborative, multi-stakeholder partnerships with administration, faculty, staff, and students. While primed for greater impact in coming years, current MSP projects include a three-part situational analysis of downtown campus spaces to inform administrative decision making, pop-up placemaking initiatives like (Park)ing day and James’ Walks, the construction of an innovative mobile and modular chalkboard, as well as major redesign recommendations and implementation plans for the Brown Student Services Building generated through public consultation and the formation of an applied student research class in the Faculty of Architecture (with the help and commitment of Professor Nik Luka & staff from Student Services).

Alan also acts as a member of the Sustainability Projects Fund Working Group and works as one of eight live-in facilitators & researchers in-residence at the ECOLE Project, where he conducts sustainability-related research on placemaking in efforts to mutually support MSP’s and ECOLE’s intertwined mandates of social sustainability through the provision of spaces as places for community connection and engagement. As a kind-hearted “connector” who nurtures both an earnest intent and dedication to create positive change at McGill, Alan continues to push deeper for more open and inclusive strategies to shape our campus in ways that better support and bring our community together.

Kristen Perry, Student Collaboration on Sustainability Award

Kristen is a 4th year Environmental Science student who has been a proponent of green living and learning for as long as she can remember. Her current passions include climate justice, fossil fuel divestment, urban horticulture, green living and -perhaps most importantly- working for positive change through creating collaborative communities. Since she came to McGill, she’s gotten increasingly involved in the growing sustainability community on campus. After a year on SSMU Environment Committee, Kristen became the Environment Commissioner for SSMU, where she’s been working with many others for the past 3 years to promote and facilitate environmental and sustainability initiatives on campus. She’s aimed to build relationships with the amazing groups and individuals working on these projects by coordinating conferences, facilitating workshops and acting as an information resource and enthusiastic supporter.

As an organizer with Divest McGill, Kristen has enjoyed connecting with a network of climate activists at McGill and across the world to promote climate justice and meaningful action on climate change on and off campus. As a member of the ECOLE Collective, she has appreciated the evolution of the project from planning to implementation, and is especially excited to take the next step in her journey as a live-in Facilitator next year! Kristen carries her passion for sustainability and community-building into the academic, professional and personal facets of her life, and aims to support others who want to do the same. When not planning or attending events or doing social media outreach, she enjoys rowing, reading, caring for the worms in her vermicompost and growing vegetables and flowers in whatever garden space she can get her hands on. She’s also always happy to chat about what’s happening on campus or beyond, and especially loves hearing about creative solutions for our future from changemakers!

Divest McGill, Lessons Learned Award

Divest McGill is a campaign calling on McGill University to address the urgency of climate change by divesting its endowment from the fossil fuel industry. They are part of a quickly growing global movement of fossil fuel divestment campaigns working towards climate justice, and were the first such campaign in Canada.

Beginning in the fall of 2012, Divest McGill has tabled, rallied, biked, banner-dropped, tweeted and marched their way to a high-profile presence on campus, with over 1700 signatures on our petition from students, staff, faculty & alumni, and endorsements from groups that include all 3 major student associations. After presenting to the McGill Board of Governors’ Committee to Advise on Matters of Social Responsibility (CAMSR) in spring 2013, they ruled not to divest from fossil fuel companies, citing ‘insufficient evidence of social injury’ despite the overwhelming evidence to the contrary. In the next school year, they worked with a broad coalition of McGill community members to reform CAMSR's terms of reference to include environmental harm and include more community engagement. Most recently, at the beginning of February 2015, the group submitted an appeal to CAMSR along with a 150 page report outlining the long term social and environmental harm that has come about as a result of the fossil fuel industry.

The group has a strong educative mission, and has facilitated a steady drumbeat of climate justice outreach events in the McGill community and beyond. Whether engaging students on the proposed tarsands pipelines that will flow through Montreal, coordinating trips to climate justice conference Powershift Atlantic or People's Climate March, or collaborating on panels and workshops, the group is dedicated to providing opportunities for students to meaningfully confront the climate crisis.

Social Score Project, Applied Student Research on Sustainability Award

Myko is an iOS and web-based application that scores everyday choices based on their impacts upon environmental and social sustainability using a lifecycle impact algorithm developed at McGill. Myko's habit-based framework enables users to commit to change, track their footprint, and share their progress. Their goal is to shift social behaviour toward sustainability.

Myko users choose energy, food, waste, water, health, social, and consumption habits to monitor: for example, “keep showers under five minutes” or “eat no red meat.” Once a day they then “swipe” right to indicate that they have completed the commitment, or left to indicate that they missed a day. They then receive a score, a breakdown of impact metrics, and a relative ranking on a leaderboard, which is also broken down by residence. The Myko score aggregates metrics for biocapacity of land, greenhouse gas emissions, solid waste production, energy use, water consumption, health effects, and social connectivity. In its test version for the McGill campus, Myko’s Discover tab of the app shows the real-time energy use of all McGill buildings and shows users an interactive map of both McGill campuses.

Myko has a multi-disciplinary team with complementary skill sets. Juan Camilo Pinto is a doctoral student at the Faculty of Law and Myko’s-The McGill Social Score Project Research Director. He is writing his thesis on the law and behavioural economics of nudges and incentives. Naomi Hill, a political science major, came to Myko from the McGill Food Systems Project and is the Campus Coordinator. Etienne Ravilet Guzman, a current McGill law student, also worked on the algorithm and is now the Myko Community Manager. Kendra Pomerantz, a McGill graduate of the Faculty of Arts program in Environmental Economics, worked also with the McGill Food Systems Project as the internal manager and is Myko’s Communications Coordinator. Bronwen Tucker is a recent graduate of the McGill School of Environment. She is the lead research assistant for Myko’s Algorithm Development team.

Expand the following names for more info about team members:

Ria Rombough & Emily Clare [Residence Life Programming], Staff Contribution to Sustainability Award

Residences are the first introduction for thousands of McGill students to independent living. As this transition can be difficult, it is important that students are equipped to deal with conversations and experiences around race, consent, ability, and other touchstones of social sustainability. Having lived in Gardner Hall as a first-year student, Emily Yee Clare felt there was room to improve the programming around these needs, and approached Ria Rombough at Student Housing & Hospitality Services with an idea for the Residences Anti-Oppression Programme. The project, funded largely through the Sustainability Projects Fund, focused on further developing existing anti-oppression training and resources for all residence students through collaboration with a variety of campus partners, including SEDE, Student Services, and SSMU Equity. The project included the realization of a long-standing goal to expand Rez Project with a new workshop for students focusing on race and colonialism, debuted to students in January 2015. Other notable successes of the programme include the introduction of new trainings for staff and students, the organization and collaboration of the first student-focused Mental Health Awareness Week, the expansion of services such as OSD and the Writing Centre into Residences, and the development and completion of a comprehensive accessibility audit of the unit.

Emily Yee Clare is a recent graduate of McGill, and one of the developers and coordinator of the Residences Anti-Oppression Programme. They have contributed to furthering equity and community engagement on campus through various positions including serving as the SSMU Equity Commissioner, SSMU VP UA, and sitting on the QPIRG Board of Directors. Ria Rombough is an alumnus of the McGill School of Environment and is the Senior Advisor, Residence Life Programs. Wrapping up her 10th year living on campus, she has a vested interest in making life and work more sustainable for both staff and students. She has two children ages 4 and 4 months, and is board president of Les Maisons Transitionelles O3 in Benny Farm.

Elena Bennett, Staff Contribution to Sustainability Award

Elena Bennett is an Associate Professor in the department of Natural Resource Sciences and the McGill School of Environment. She has been devoted to real-life, on-campus sustainability since taking classes with David Orr at Oberlin College in the 1990s, where she had the opportunity to participate in early efforts to help design one of the first fully “green” University campus buildings.

Watching the synergies that happened when students and staff were actively involved in deciding what they wanted from such a building led Elena to develop McGill Net Positive. McGill Net+ is a project designed to be the first step in a community process to collaboratively imagine and design a hub for sustainability activities at McGill. The idea was that although McGill boasts a strong foundation of excellence in sustainability, including outstanding research, first-rate education, and an active community working to increase campus and community sustainability, a critical piece of the sustainability puzzle at McGill is missing. To fully leverage McGill’s sustainability efforts, we believe that McGill needs a “hub” for all of our sustainability activities – research, teaching, and action.  Other projects include ESMontreal.ca, a blog co-founded with former PhD student Matt Mitchell and the entire Bennett lab, funded by McGill’s Sustainability Projects Fund, and designed to connect people—especially McGill students—to their environment through stories. Elena is also the mom to two young children (aged 7 and 5). Together with her family, she keeps bees and is an avid gardener. She loves hiking, canoeing, and otherwise exploring the natural world with her family.


Kathleen Bradley, Emerald Key Award

Kathleen Bradley is a fourth year philosophy and economics student finishing a minor in management. She loves to cook and is interested in environmental and social sustainability as it relates to food systems around the world. Recently, she opened and now co-manages the Student-Run Café, a sustainability initiative started in the Shatner Building at the Students’ Society of McGill University. She is the finance coordinator for the McGill Farmers’ Market, and is very excited to be taking on the position again next year. She is also the Executive Director of Second Servings, a food waste redistribution program that addresses food security issues within the Montreal community.

Kathleen has recently been elected as incoming VP Finance and Operations at SSMU, where she will be taking her commitment to sustainability to the next level through managing the Society’s Investment Portfolio and overseeing the financial longevity of the SSMU’s many clubs and services. Kathleen is an altogether incredibly passionate student who models the full breadth of sustainability—social, economic, and environmental—through her work and life.

Christopher Tegho, Student Collaboration on Sustainability with the Administration Award

Chris Tegho is a student in Electrical Engineering, and is especially passionate about sustainable energy at McGill University. His Energy Management Information System aims to develop analytical aids to help McGill laboratory users understand energy consumption data, and to put the results to practical use. He is the current McGill Energy Project Internal Manager, and has initiated new awareness around energy projects and consumption on campus. He recently represented McGill University at the World Future Energy Summit, where he placed emphasis on how applied student research can lead to advanced technology in sustainability. Chris’s strong belief in social equity and incorporating sustainability principles led him to become the EUS equity commissioner, where he launched a series of discussions on the concept of “safer space” in collaboration with the Dean of Engineering.

Chris’s interdisciplinary efforts and attention to anti-oppressive principles has been an important connection between social and environmental sustainability. The links drawn between research, education, and cross-campus partnerships have been a model of breaking down siloes towards sustainability at McGill.

Out of the Garden, Lessons Leaned Award

The Out-of-the-Garden project (OGP) – Alternative Café is a club, a group, and a community that is dedicated to providing Macdonald students and staff with healthy, diverse meals using locally produced vegetables. The Café serves meals that  are produced, processed, and served at Mac Campus, and has transformed the Ceilidh into a communal gathering and skill-sharing space. Their food is not only delicious, but offers gluten-free, nut-free, vegetarian and vegan meals, and is based on feedback through surveys and recipe testing.

OGP has worked with the administration, stayed true to their core mission of providing healthy meals, and have created a strong learning atmosphere around dietetics, nutrition, food science, environmental biology, agriculture, and business. Their strong partnerships with numerous student groups and educational workshops make them an excellent example of a student-run initiative dedicated to building a culture of sustainability at McGill.

Farm to School, Applied Student Research Award

The mission of Farm to School is to engage elementary students in the understanding of where food comes from, and the science behind the food system. The project brings together undergraduate students to build educational modules for various ages, which they will put online to be freely available for all teachers. Since May 2013, over 200 elementary school children have come to Macdonald campus to gain inspiration about science and sustainability in agriculture, environment and nutrition. Farm to School was the hundredth Sustainability Projects Fund initiative to be funded, and shows no signs of slowing down.

McGill student volunteers have participated in this project through AGRI 490, and spread a love for food systems to younger children. This semester, nine students are preparing modules for eighty elementary school students who will attend the camp over the summer. The intersections between education and environmental sustainability shine through in this wonderful project.

Marcy Slapcoff, Staff Contribution to Sustainability Award

Marcy Slapcoff is a devoted fan of sustainability at McGill University. Since she first joined Teaching and Learning Services as an Educational Developer in 2006, Marcy has been exploring ways to promote sustainability as a foundational principle within the formal and informal curriculum. As the founder of the Teaching-Research Nexus project and leader of the Inquiry Network, she has worked with cross-disciplinary groups of faculty members to find ways to further students’ development as engaged and critical citizens. Her interest in sustainability motivates her questioning of the values that underlie many of our habitual behaviors as members of McGill and the wider community, and she has enjoyed many fruitful discussions with students and staff on this topic.  She is honoured to have been part of the Sustainability Projects Fund Working Group since its inception and to participate in the flourishing culture of sustainability on campus. Marcy is also the happy mother of 2 children, aged 9 and 12, and has spent much of her spare time during the last year building a cabin in Vermont with her husband.

Dr. Marianna Newkirk, Staff Contribution to Sustainability Award

Dr. Marianna Newkirk retired from the role as Associate Dean (Research) in the Faculty of Medicine at McGill University at the end of 2013 after almost 6 years in that position. She did her PhD in Immunology at the University of Toronto, and then post-doctoral studies at the University of Texas Health Sciences Centre in Dallas prior to her recruitment to McGill. As a Faculty of Medicine member at McGill since 1987 she maintained an immunology / rheumatology research laboratory at the Research Institute of the McGill University Health Centre until her retirement. Dr. Newkirk was instrumental in  attracting and organizing the highly successful International Congress of Immunology held in Montreal in 2004. She was council member and then treasurer of the International Union of Immunological Societies for a total of 12 years. She was also President of Immunology Montreal for 8 years which brought together Immunologists from several universities in the greater Montreal area in order to promote collaboration and education about Immunology which extended to the community at large.

While Associate Dean, Dr. Newkirk was involved in many different activities that helped to promote Research excellence at McGill. She was instrumental in establishing a sustainability project on laboratory practices with the focus on better and environmentally friendly biobanking and freezer use. This project has had broad uptake and has the potential to lead to considerable financial savings to the university while being kinder to the environment. Importantly this project has led to inclusion of these concepts even in the curriculum. It is anticipated that a paper outlining the McGill experience with this project will be submitted for publication in the coming months.


Marc-Étienne Brunet, Emerald Key Award

Marc-Étienne has shown incredible dedication to promoting sustainability both at McGill and the community at large. He was an Engineering Undergraduate Society (EUS) sustainability coordinator, presenting opportunities to get involved on campus to first year students, connecting stakeholder groups in the faculty, and implementing a system to eliminate the use of roughly 25 000 disposal cups per year in the student bar. He co-founded the McGill Energy Project (MEP) to connect different sections of the university and convene conversations around using applied research to push the universities energy system in a more sustainable direction. In the eighteen months since its creation, he has helped drive the MEP from an idea to an organization with projects spearheading major energy savings throughout campus, faculty and staff partners, university funding, and over twenty-five student roles.  These projects have included the development of an energy systems map at McGill through consultation with over 40 stakeholders on campus, designing a thermal solar heating system for upper residence, informing decisions regarding energy management software, investigating energy consumption in labs, and optimizing the operation of the major boilers on campus.

Through the MEP, he has established partnerships with faculty, staff and students. Their trust in him encourages future student-staff partnerships, and a continued collaborative effort towards energy conservation at McGill. His hard work ethic and proven results motivate all those who know him to do the same. By giving students the experience of transforming their campus’ energy system for the better, they would graduate with the skills and confidence needed to make lasting positive change in their future endeavours. Having completed the groundwork of energy research at McGill, other members of the McGill community can continue using applied research to add to the model in future years, potentially lowering McGill’s footprint.

Now that he has graduated, Marc-Étienne has continued to contribute through the MEP, promoting CodeJam events to inspire engineers to solve some of McGill’s most complex energy problems.

Samra Lakew, Student Collaboration on Sustainability with the Administration Award

Samra co-founded and was the driving force behind McGill’s Team Montreal for the Solar Decathlon Competition, a competition involving 20 intercollegiate

teams individually designing and building a fully functional, net-zero energy solar house to offer sustainable solutions for the housing market. She co-founded the team in early 2011 and over the first semester she helped gain the support of approximately 100 students interested in the project and merged the team with another from École de technologie supérieure (ÉTS), fostering collaboration between universities. With the support of Professor Goshal, Associate Dean of Student Affairs from civil Engineering, Professor Covo of the architecture faculty and Professor Daniel Forgues of ETS, the team began work on the proposal to be submitted for entry.

Samra helped foster the development of a very capable and driven team who autonomously developed the knowledge and resources required to build an ecological house, began fundraising efforts, gained support from the Montreal Biosphere for $300,000 and made efforts to integrate students from multiple faculties into the project. Participating students gained in-depth knowledge on sustainable building design that was available nowhere else.  The project also opened students to the many fields of green design and gave them an edge in the industry. The project touched hundreds of students and promoted awareness of sustainability in the built environment. To ensure that the benefits of the Solar Decathalon project are lasting, Samra helped integrate the project into the engineering curriculum of both ETS and McGill. A new effort has begun since to compete in the 2015 Edition of the Solar Decathlon Competition. The team has recruited 60 students and is now in a much better position to compete. This project will continue to educate engineers and open careers in sustainable development to McGill students.

McGill Farmers’ Market, Lessons Learned Award

Since its founding in 2008, the McGill Farmers’ Market has become a fixture on campus. This complex, student-run, multi-stakeholder project works to ensure local food is available to the downtown campus, with a vision of community-building, education, and sustainability. There have been two main challenges to the project: first, to find a structure of ownership that reflected the collaborative nature of the project, and second, to become self-financing. Both challenges have since been overcome.

Through years of consultation with stakeholders, the project has developed a structure with student coordinators, an advisory committee, and general meetings, allowing for deep and broad community participation. No single group “owns” this project and it continues to be a beacon of successful collaboration at McGill.

While the project began with support from the Sustainability Projects Fund, they have slowly weaned off SPF funding and are now self-sustaining. Through a combination of fees and fundraising activities they have covered the difference between their prior revenues and their expenses, learning to balance their budget and become truly sustainable.

William Agnew, Applied Student Research on Sustainability Award

William’s involvement began when he volunteered with the Food System Project, working on local food, food procurement and transparency in McGill’s food system. His collaborative work helped McGill Food and Dining become a leader in sustainable practices on University campuses around Canada.

In 2010, a McGill School of Environment applied student research group, including Will and seven other students, started a four-month research project into sustainable seafood looking into the different possible certifications and criteria. They suggested a few different sustainable seafood certifications and criteria, including the Marine Stewardship Certification. Since then, MFDS has shifted completely to only purchasing seafood with the recommended criteria. In 2012 William took on the role as advisor and as Internal Auditor for MFDS.

To pursue Marine Stewardship Certification, they convinced Aramark to agree to the process. Next, they got the MFDS supply chain certified, encouraging both GFS Canada and Sysco Canada to become certified as well. During the certification process, William was directly involved in training over 100 staff. Since then, McGill has become the first campus in Canada to be MSC certified joining the ranks of UC Berkley and Cornell University. This certification officially signifies that MFDS supports and rewards sustainable fisheries, sustainable seafood companies, scientists, and conservation groups.

George McCourt, Staff Contribution to Sustainability Award

Professor McCourt has demonstrated his commitment to sustainability through teaching, by applying these concepts on campus and to the institutional framework of the university, and by encouraging his students to do the same. His contributions to sustainability through the voluntary supervision of diverse applied student research (ASR) projects about sustainability have been a driving force behind many positive changes at the university. He has supervised projects on Seafood Certification, Sustainability in Curriculum, Water Management on Campus, and Sustainable Thompson House. These have all contributed to progress in sustainability on campus in large part due to George’s input and guidance.

His contributions have not only made significant impacts on campus, but through long-lasting impacts on students. He has gone far beyond his formal roles of a teacher and supervisor, acting as a mentor and an invaluable resource for students seeking to apply their knowledge to sustainability-related problems on campus.

He is a pioneer for integrating sustainability into the curriculum, sharing with his students a ‘big-picture’ philosophy of sustainable learning and living, in addition to course material.

Jerome Conraud, Staff Contribution to Sustainability Award

Jerome Conraud has gone above and beyond his job requirements to be one of the driving forces for sustainability at McGill. After hosting a Sustainability Xchange on climate change, he later encouraged anyone interested to contribute to a report including scope 3 emissions related to commuting or business travel. This initiative preceded a Greenhouse Gas working group for investigating McGill’s greenhouse gas emissions.

Jerome has initiated, mentored and empowered countless students who have taken part in many SPF projects under his supervision. These projects have provided the opportunity for students to cultivate their passion for sustainability, and have empowered them to make positive and informed changes in the university’s operations. Jerome supervised a student intern who built the Pulse Energy Dashboard, measuring and displaying campus energy consumption. The Dashboard was introduced to residents, reaching over 1300 students. Further, Jerome supervised another intern who helped determine baseline water usage on campus. He enlisted seven students to help assess the McGill Food and Dining Services’ carbon footprint and develop strategies to reduce it. 

Jerome is a large contributor and member of the Sustainability Working Group within McGill’s Facilities Operations and Development Department and has volunteered to mentor projects such as the McGill Energy Project.


Max Luke, Emerald Key Award

Max’s work in sustainability and community engagement at McGill began in his first year as a member of Greenpeace McGill and Peace by Peace, a SSMU club that runs a 10-week conflict resolution program for grade 4 and 5 Montreal classrooms. In second year Max got involved with the Environment Students’ Society and with the incredibly exciting fall student referendum that led to the creation of the Sustainability Projects Fund. In his third year at McGill Max was the President of the Environment Students’ Society and a member of the Sustainability Projects Fund Work Group. Max also created the SSMU Community Engagement Committee and a $20,000 per year fund that is used to support initiatives which link McGill students to community engagement initiatives in Montreal and abroad.

Max has always been involved in sustainability-related groups and initiatives on campus, and each year his involvement has been more extensive and impactful. In his first two years, he was involved with Greenpeace McGill and Peace by Peace a SSMU club that runs a 10-week conflict resolution program for grade 4 and 5 Montreal classrooms, as well as heavily campaigning for the Sustainable Projects Fund during the referendum on its creation. In his third year, he became president of the McGill Environment Students’ Society, sat on the SPF Working Group, and created the SSMU Community Engagement Committee and fund, which works to support initiatives linking McGill students to community engagement initiatives in Montreal and abroad.

However, it has been his work this year that has truly distinguished him as a sustainability champion at McGill. As student Senator, Max helped with the organization of a faculty forum which brought faculty members and members of the Senior Administration together to talk about sustainability in research and curriculum. In the fall of 2011, for an independent study Max and his team for interviewed over 40 individuals from the McGill community and McGill’s comparator universities to understand how academic departments are thinking about sustainability and what the best strategies are for integrating sustainability into the curriculum. They produced a comprehensive report titled “Sustainability & Curriculum at McGill University: A Toolkit for Effective Strategy Building.” He then followed up this work in the winter semester as an intern at the Office of Sustainability. He worked closely with Susanna Klassen, another intern at the Office, to devise and implement strategies for the integration of sustainability into the curriculum, with particular emphasis on applied student research. They have been engaged in a series of discussion with the School of Environment and professors from across the university and have initiated a process that may lead to the creation of a new courses that will make it easier for students across disciplines to access sustainability-focused applied student research. Finally, this year Max has been working with the Office for Social Equity and Diversity Education (SEDE) to create Community Engagement Day, a campus-wide experience that will have the McGill community venturing into Montreal to partake in community engagement initiatives which address social needs. Community Engagement Day is marked for October 5, 2012.

Max has been involved with countless groups and projects on campus and, through his work on sustainability & curriculum, has shifted perceptions on the role of sustainability in the education offered by McGill and has paved the way for other passionate students to explore these topics.

Joshua Fletcher-Kyle, Award for Student Collaboration on Sustainability with the Administration

Joshua has worked with the Office of Sustainability, the Hazardous Waste Management Program, and EUS to form Reboot McGill in 2010. Now an integral part of McGill’s landscape, Reboot extends the lifespan of McGill’s used computers by refurbishing and donating them to campus groups, students, the wider McGill community and off campus non-profits.

This year, Joshua collected the personal e-waste generated by members of the McGill community by organizing a two-day e-waste collection event. He worked with Campus & Space Planning, the Office of Sustainability, and a local electronics disposal company to pull off a well-received and highly successful event, with them collected 2000 pounds of electronics. With such massive support for the pilot collection, Joshua plans to use the momentum to expand the event next year, hopefully leading to it being held regularly.

Additionally, Joshua has worked with the IT Disposal Working Group, to improve IT disposal practices, and with Procurements to streamline asset management. Joshua has demonstrated a keen ability to re-imagine the way materials are consumed and disposed of on campus a knack for working with people on all levels to create the necessary connections to bring about change.

Macdonald Student-run Ecological Garden, Lessons Learned Award

The Macdonald Student-run Ecological Garden was started in 2009 and is currently run by students Alice Pradel, Anna Elbon, Emily McGill, Katryna van Vliet, Pauline Richard, Sophie Price, and Russel Vinegar, is a project centred around providing students with the opportunity to learn and apply sustainable agriculture in practical ways. They have made hands-on farming experience and provide student-grown food on campus.

The MSEG has overcome many struggles. In starting and running a farm for the first time, the students quickly discovered the importance of having clearly defined roles and strong communication amongst group members. Through the course of the actual planting and production, the MSEG students learned to ask for help from their farm neighbours and mentors, drawing on the vast knowledge of those around them. Lastly, they recognized that the long-term continuity of the project required a consistently engaged group of students, so they worked to integrate the project into program and course work.

By treating each set-back and difficulty as an opportunity for improvement and growth, MSEG has developed a clear presence on Macdonald campus and intimately connects students with their food, promoting an appreciation for local, sustainable agriculture.

Teva Recycling Initiative, Applied Student Research on Sustainability Award

The Teva Recycling Initiative is an incredible example of how students can use academically rigorous experimentation to make concrete impacts within the university. It is a joint venture between McGill students and administrators to improve recycling rates on campus. It is a group that provides research and consulting to McGill University by performing experiments on the recycling system and recommending detailed and impartial solutions to recycling issues.

 Teva consists of current and former McGill students with backgrounds in business, engineering, economics and neuroscience. It started in 2009 with a pilot project to redesign the McLennan Library's waste management system. In 2011 it expanded to study several recycling systems in the Schulich Library, with thorough auditing. Upon presented its research to administrators, which demonstrated a significant improvement in recycling rates with the centralized system they had designed, they received permission to implement the system across six high-traffic on-campus libraries and raised the necessary funding to implement the project.

Teva is driven by a deep interest in sustainability as well as a collective motivation to design meaningful projects and bring them to fruition. And they are demonstrating that such a model can have huge and positive impacts.

Caroline Begg, Staff Contribution to Sustainability Award

Caroline Begg is a dedicated teacher and advisor who has gone above and beyond the call of duty to ensure students are given every opportunity possible to be involved in the McGill community, especially when it comes to sustainability initiatives.

Her championing of applied student research has been pivotal in the success of many projects. She has worked hard to support the Macdonald Student-run Ecological Garden students, helping them connect with local farmers, develop the framework for the project’s operations, and integrate the project with coursework, as well as acting as a wonderful mentor for the students. She has been a key member of the Out of the Garden Project, a project working to create a collaborative cafe that will integrate the skills and values of the Macdonald Campus community. It’s goals are to promotes student engagement and conversation from the agriculture, food science, environment and nutrition programs. She is also currently supervising the Farmer’s Market applied student research.

She constantly and consistently finds ways to engage students and promote respectful relationships amongst community members. With her contagious enthusiasm and positively, she is a truly inspirational figure at the university that all can look up to.

Ground Services, including Angelo Tambasco and Eric Champagne, Staff Contribution to Sustainability Award

The Grounds Services team has embodied the spirit of innovation, collaboration, and eagerness to adopt sustainable practices in they daily activities. They demonstrate the importance of the sustainability mind shift in looking for ways to reduce their impacts and preserve the environment.

Examples of their efforts are countless, and include: xeriscaping and native landscaping to preserve local biodiversity, not using pesticides or chemicals on the lawns for aesthetics, using natural methods of pest control as much as possible, experimenting with less environmentally toxic road salt, favouring rakes over leaf-blowers, trying a biodiesel conversion on one of their trucks, and so many more. Grounds Services has also been engaged in the Big Hanna composter project since its inception, not only through operations but through the planning as well. They ensure that all the finish compost product is used, facilitating its distribution amongst the campus groups like Campus Crops and Edible Campus, as well as using a large portion of the compost themselves in the maintenance of the grounds.

Through their diligent hard work, dedication, and willingness to take on projects proposed to them, they have made the university campus much greener and more sustainable in countless ways.

Jim Nicell, Special Career Achievement Award

Dr. Jim Nicell completed his undergraduate training in chemical engineering at the University of Windsor in 1985.  Following the completion of a Master of Applied Science degree in 1986, he accepted a two year appointment as a lecturer in the Department of Chemical Engineering at Windsor.  He then went on to complete a Ph.D. in environmental engineering in 1991 at the same institution.  Subsequently, in 1992 he joined the Department of Civil Engineering & Applied Mechanics of McGill University as an Assistant Professor.  He was appointed as an Associate Professor in June 1997.

In between his studies, Dr. Nicell gained considerable experience in the practical aspects of environmental engineering. Over the years, he has worked in a parttime capacity for several environmental consulting firms in South Western Ontario and Michigan.  This work has brought him a variety of fascinating experiences in locations all across North America.  He has sampled air quality at locations a mile underground to a height of 250 meters in the air, perched precariously on the side of incinerator smoke stacks.  While conducting environmental audits, he has been virtually broiled in the middle of winter in the hellish atmosphere of steel foundries and has suffered hypothermia in an unexpected August blizzard in Northern Alberta.  These wide and varied experiences have done nothing to dampen his enthusiasm for his career in environmental engineering.  Typical examples of environmental engineering and industrial hygiene projects in which he played a major role include:  measurement and dispersion modeling of odourous emissions from industrial sources; asbestos and organic vapour sampling; stack emissions measurements for organics, heavy metals and particulates; destruction of cyanides in groundwater; air exchange rate measurements; assessment of the impact of the application of municipal sludges to agricultural land; impact assessment of road expansions and increased traffic flow on air quality in surrounding neighborhoods; and venturi scrubber design and modelling.

Dr. Nicell's research interests are diverse.  His Master's research involved the development of a standard method for the measurement of the impact of odourous emissions from on surrounding communities.  The Ontario Ministry of the Environment is currently employing this method for the measurement of odour thresholds of pure chemical compounds in air.  This method has also been adopted by a large number of industries and private consultants in Ontario and Michigan who wish to assess odorous emissions and to the test the effectiveness of process modifications in reducing these emissions.  His doctoral research was an original contribution to the area of industrial wastewater treatment using enzymes and remains the primary focus of his current research endeavors.  This research focuses on the use of enzymes isolated from vegetable sources (e.g. horseradishes, cauliflowers, mushrooms and soy beans) for the removal of toxic pollutants (phenols and aromatic amines) from wastewaters.  This work will find potential application in the treatment of chemical/petrochemical wastewaters, landfill leachate, and groundwater and soil remediation.  Others research interests include:  the design of environmentally friendly and affordable homes; ozonation of wastewaters to enhance biodegradability of pollutants; and development of community solid waste management strategies.  Dr. Nicell has authored or coauthored approximately 50 publications and a similar number of technical reports since 1992.  More are on the way.

Following the completion of a Master of Applied Science in 1986, Jim Nicell first worked as a lecturer for two years in the Department of Chemical Engineering at Windsor. He then went on to complete a Ph.D. in environmental engineering at the same institution. Subsequently, Dr. Nicell joined the Department of Civil Engineering & Applied Mechanics of McGill University in 1992 and was appointed Associate Professor in June 1997. In between his studies, Dr. Nicell gained considerable experience in the practical aspects of environmental engineering. Over the years, he has worked in a parttime capacity for several environmental consulting firms in South Western Ontario and Michigan.  This work has brought him a variety of fascinating experiences in locations all across North America.

Dr. Nicell's research interests are diverse. A method of the measurement of the impact of odourous emissions from surroundings communities he developed during his Master is now employed by the Ontario Ministry of the Environment, among others. His doctoral research was an original contribution to the area of industrial wastewater treatment using enzymes and remains the primary focus of his current research endeavors. Dr. Nicell has also authored or coauthored approximately 50 publications and a similar number of technical reports since 1992.  More are on the way.


Jonathan Glencross, Emerald Key Award

Jonathan's impact on the sustainability movement at McGill is immeasurable. His involvement is extensive and aligns with his belief that the university community should be at the forefront of leading societal change.

As Sustainable McGill Project Coordinator, Jonathan collaborated on the proposal for the creation of the Sustainability Office at McGill. He held community roundtables and a faculty forum to establish and communicate the vision, and was subsequently nominated by Associate Vice-Principal (University Services) Jim Nicell to sit on the Steering Committee for the creation of the Office of Sustainability.

 Through an upper level independent study course in the McGill School of the Environment, Jonathan authored a proposal to renovate an existing building on the Macdonald campus to LEED or equivalent standards through applied interdisciplinary research. The proposal also sought to establish an annual interdisciplinary field study semester focused on applied sustainability to be hosted in the building. Although the retrofit process for the building was not approved, the field study semester was, and has been given seed funding to begin summer 2011.
Jonathan is likely best known for spearheading the design, proposal, negotiation, and implementation of the $2.5 million Sustainability Projects Fund (SPF), and the creation of the SPF Administrator position, as well as a number of part-time student positions to suport the SPF. The SPF is the largest fund of its kind at any university campus in North America and as of April 2011, has 32 student- and staff-led projects on the ground.

In six short days Jonathan succeeded in informing and winning over the 20,000+ undergraduates, with a $200 budget and no access to email or list serves. He built a 200 volunteer team and resulted in one of the highest voter turnouts in SSMU history, with ~80% of the student body voting in favour. Jonathan also helped to ensure that the administration would match all monies raised through the student referendum.

Jonathan has also served as Coordinator of McGill Food Systems Project, where he has facilitated visioning sessions, helped secure $26,000 in grants from the Quebec Government, and supervised 20 student researchers. He successfully lead the proxcess to create full time sustainable purchasing agent at McGill Food and Dining Services, as well as local food days and other initiatives.

As undergraduate representative of the McGill Food & Dining Services committee for Sub-contracting, Jonathan helped author an RFP for food outlets for the next 3 years, with an estimated worth in the tens of millions. He successfully negotiated a mandatory minimum local purchasingrequirement of 25-75% of total purchases, depending on season.

Though his accomplishments speak for themselves, the way in which he unites the community through experiences that embody a shared vision for a better future. Jonathan is passionate about the need to create a culture of sustainability and he has poured his heart and soul into making this change come about and his impact at McGill will leave ripples for years to come.

Sarah Archibald, Student Collaboration on Sustainability with the Administration Award

Sarah embodies the culture of sustainability at McGill. She set up and now leads an independent research project which maps out how a shared vision of a sustainable food system can be operationalized at Macdonald campus, and has skillfully brought in key stakeholders from all levels of the administration and student society into the conversation.

Sarah did initial research to support and establish an ENVR 401 project in Fall 2010 that led to recommendations for sustainable seafood purchasing now in the process of being adopted and implemented by McGill Food & Dining Services. She organized the first ever community consultation session for McGill Food & Dining Services focused on the issue of the sustainability of campus food services and she helped organize a second and more in depth world café focused on key aspects of McGill Food & Dining Services’ 3 year sustainability strategy.

Sarah is an indefatigable co-coordinator of the innovative student-led McGill Food Systems Project, which stands on campus as a model for student-administration collaboration. With her colleagues, she has been successful in bringing stable funding and rotating internships to the organization, which will ensure its long-term viability.

Sarah co-hosted a workshop entitled Building Sustainable Student Initiatives with first-year students in partnership with the First Year Leadership office. She also regularly volunteers to host sprouting workshops in residence dining halls to build awareness and empowerment with first year students on Local Food Days. She often writes articles for the McGill Food & Dining Services’ newsletter. Sarah's energy and integrity shine through in her work and the meaningful impact she has had.

David Morris, Lessons Learned Award

The Big Hanna in-vessel bioreactor under the Wong Building is one of the most visible commitments to sustainability at McGill. It is now composting pre-consumer waste, collected daily from several on campus locations, and providing learning opportunities to several groups of students .

Big Hanna was proposed eight years ago by the student group Gorilla Composting. It was initially proposed eight years ago by the student group Gorilla Composting as a pilot project, and finally arrived on campus in May 2010. David Morris has been the glue of the operation ever since. As a result he has been learning most from the challenges of its implementation and championing its integration into McGill’s operations.

The composter has presented technical and logistical challenges, all of which David has been central to identifying and addressing. He is responsible for recommendations for institutionalization, building an engagement strategy for integrating the composter into campus events and activities, and a final report on initial project intentions, outcomes, challenges, and lessons learned.

David and the composter team have adapted to challenges and learned through a process of iterative developmental evaluation. David has been the liaison with the project’s funding partners and balanced their various needs well with the intention of the project. Technical challenges have led to constant communication with both the local distributor, Vertal, and the maker of Big Hanna, leading to extensive modification of the machine for future production.

The Central Campus Composter has been the first large scale equipment project at McGill and as such has been a very effective pilot project not just for composting, but for any future project requiring similar collaboration and efforts to shift standard operating procedures to integrate sustainability.

Dana Lahey, Applied Student Research on Sustainability Award

Working for SSMUʼs VP University Affairs in 2009, Dana created University United, a report on the best practices of applied student research programs at Canadian universities leading this movement, and how their experiences could help build a system to support applied student research at McGill. Dana's report was used as support for creating and hiring an administrative position jointly responsible for coordinating applied student research and the Sustainable Projects Fund within the McGill Office of Sustainability.

The University United report inspired Dana to found the McGill Food Systems Project, an initiative between McGill Food and Dining Services and the McGill Office of Sustainability to use student research to study the campusʼ own food supply chain. Dana has helped to set up, oversee, and support applied student research with over thirty McGill students. The McGill Food Systems Project provides a framework that will continue to enable applied research to flourish long after Dana has left the university.

Dana also led a group of five students in researching and writing a report on the capacity for sustainable food sourcing in McGillʼs dining halls. The report that came from this project, Best Practices for Sustainable Purchasing at McGill, was used as support for creating and hiring the Food Systems Administrator position within McGill Food & Dining Services. This report also provided the foundation for building a partnership between McGill Food & Dining Services and Local Food Plus, a national sustainable food certifying organization which will certify McGillʼs suppliers starting in fall 2011.

Dana is finishing his undergraduate thesis in which he analyzes the effectiveness of the McGillFood Systems Project, specifically focusing on explaining the challenges and successes to inform future similar applied student research, at McGill and otherinstitutions.

Emmanuelle Lapointe, Staff Contribution to Sustainability Award

A LEED accredited professional, Emmanuelle strives to integrate all aspects of sustainability to her daily tasks. Further to chairing FOD’s sustainability workgroup, Emmanuelle has had a tremendous impact on sustainability at McGill at various levels.

Emmanuelle has worked actively with the project management team to advocate for better waste management practices. Her efforts have resulted in substantial amounts of waste being diverted from landfill for construction, renovation, and demolition projects; some projects have reached diversion rates well over 90%.

Emmanuelle’s team is the watchdog of McGill’s construction standards. She has pushed for more sustainable solutions and more durable materials at McGill’s. She has also proposed to develop a website application to help potential suppliers submit their products and to rank them according to their durability, environmental and health certifications, cost, and social acceptability.

Emmanuelle has also been actively involved in the renovation of classrooms and cooperated with teaching and learning services to that end. The new classrooms are recognized to be state of the art with energy saving features, recycled, emission free materials, FSC certified wood, and they offer a one of a kind learning experience to our students. She goes above and beyond her call of duty to build sustainability into McGill’s standard operations.

Oliver De Volpi, Staff Contribution to Sustainability Award

Oliver has a special ability to challenge dogmatic thinking in sustainability and move the conversation one step forward by getting right to the real challenges and opportunities for action. He has supported a series of Local Food Days in residence dining halls over the past two years, raising awareness of sustainability in residences and allowing kitchen staff to gradually move toward more local and sustainable sourcing of food at McGill. He has also initiated various field trips on his personal time to help students understand the food system upon which McGill relies.

Oliver has supported student applied research in numerous sustainable food systems projects, independent research projects, and theses. Under Oliver’s direction and leadership, McGill Food & Dining Services has offered transparent access to its data & information and has implemented a large majority of student recommendations, including new commitments to sustainable poultry, fish, and seafood.

Oliver has been a champion in support of numerous sustainability shifts for kitchen operations, including phasing out water bottles and styrofoam purchasing in dining halls, offering a reusable take-out container to all students in residence, and composting pre-consumer kitchen waste in the new Big Hanna on campus. He also supported the creation of a Food Systems Administrator to get down to action on the unit’s sustainability commitments, and has closely managed and mentored this position in volume purchasing for institutional dining. He has also engaged suppliers to offer more sustainable and local options.

Oliver is one the “prime movers” behind the scenes in the McGill Feeding McGill project. The project’s goals are to produce food at the horticultural centre for the entire McGill community and to organize community building activities around the theme of food and sustainability. In 2010, McGill Food & Dining Services purchased over 20,000 lbs of fruits and vegetables from McGill’s very own farm. Oliver unites stakeholders around the table to not just talk, but to walk the walk of sustainability in food systems.

Back to top