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April 24, 2012
Vancouver Students Plant the Seeds of Sustainability
(at North America's Greenest Building)
Over 50 Students and staff from 12 secondary schools across Vancouver attended a Sustainability Workshop on April 13th at University of British Columbia's Centre for Interactive Research on Sustainability (CIRS). The students had the opportunity to learn from UBC researchers about cutting-edge technologies and research and to see real-life applications of sustainability in action.
"Sustainability is an issue that is interconnected with the economy, environment, social justice and policy development", says Tessica Truong one of the secondary school students in Vancouver who attended the workshop.
The sustainability workshop was the first of its kind, anywhere, where secondary school students got to meet with and learn from university researchers about landscape visualization tools, urban development issues, renewable energy technologies and systems and green building design, all within the context of sustainability, and in the greenest building on this continent!
The workshop included presentations from Alberto Cayuela the Associate Director of the UBC Sustainability Initiative (USI) and Kshamta Hunter the Sustainability Student Advisor who spoke about the University Sustainability Initiative and recent developments on sustainability curriculum at UBC. Professor Ron Kellet and doctoral candidate Jon Salter demonstrated cutting edge technologies in landscape visualization that can be used to model urban development for the purpose of understanding transportation mode-splits, climate change impacts and other broader sustainability issues.
At the wrap-up session I split the students into groups to discuss the main insights and lessons they learned and how they would like to apply this knowledge back in their schools or at the school district. Each group then shared the highlights of their group discussions with the larger group: students said that they felt a renewed sense of hope at the workshop, they liked the ideas of 'regenerative buildings' and the notion of 'building inhabitants' vs. 'building occupants', and moving from being 'less bad' to 'net positive'. While they said they were inspired to act, students also remarked that their 'bottom-up' actions and interest in sustainability need to be matched with support from the 'top' by the appropriate governance/management structures. The students also enjoyed the self-guided tour which exposed them to various features and systems in the building that make it the greenest building in North America.
Tessica also adds that "Collaboration is the key to a sustainable future," while fellow student participant Alen Chen believes that "We are able to lead by example and take initiative ourselves". Alice Paul, another future leader, says that "Leading edge solutions are available today. We need to integrate them into our public conversations and our own lives."
The Sustainability Workshop was a result of a joint collaboration between the Vancouver Board of Education (VBE) and the Centre for Interactive Research on Sustainability (CIRS) at the University of British Columbia.
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