2017 Sustainability Awards
The University of Canterbury Sustainability Office rewards those departments and people around campus that are making the effort to make this University more sustainable.
Nominees are judged against the following criteria: scope/reach (eg is this a small portion of the UC community, is it UC wide, does it reach beyond the University?), innovation, challenge (how easy or hard was this to implement?) and the overall sustainability credentials of the project. Judges included a new criterion for deliverability - has this already been implemented or is it still at concept stage?
Nominations were assessed by an independent panel made up of representatives from Christchurch City Council, Ara Institute of Technology and the UCSA.
Awards were presented at a ceremony in September by Prof. Wendy Lawson (PVC Science), Darryn Russel (Acting Director, Learning Resources) and Emily Barker (Vice President, UCSA).
The Supreme Winner won a trip to gorgeous Hokitika, via a breathtaking rail journey through Arthur's Pass on the TranzAlpine. Accommodation, food and awesome activities were all included.
And the winners were:
Glynne Mackey is a lecturer in teacher education, and from 2004 to present day, has been developing courses for early childhood (EC) and primary teachers on sustainability, social justice and ecojustice. From 2004 all EC students have had a compulsory Year 3 course in sustainability and now this is open to primary students. In the sustainability course, students are challenged in their personal attitudes around sustainability and environmental behaviour as well as what this means for the professional teacher.
Students are encouraged to be sustainability leaders in their school or centre and ensure children have opportunities to realise their own competence and agency in making a difference for a better future. The course has evolved under different course codes. It began as more of a focus on environmental education in 2004 and as worldwide understandings towards environmental issues have changed it has become more integrated with social justice and ecojustice.
Maori concepts and practices have a significant place in the development of content for the courses and they clearly show the importance of kaitiakitanga, caring, community, collaboration and interconnectedness. Glynne’s work in teacher education and sustainability has been recognised internationally. She was a key person to bring several New Zealand tertiary teacher education institutions into the UNESCO initiative to Re-orient Teacher Education towards Sustainability and has represented the University and New Zealand at the biennial conferences. From 2010 this has meant working with one other New Zealand colleague to establish sustainability groups within all sectors of teacher education throughout New Zealand – setting up internet forum groups and special interest groups at education conferences in New Zealand and generally promote teacher education to include sustainability.
Since 2010 the College of Education has been in the UNESCO network and contributed to the activity of the network 2010-2017. In 2017 the Education Council of New Zealand reviewed the standards for graduating and registered teachers in New Zealand. Glynne wrote to the CEO of the Education Council advocating for sustainability to be more visible in the standards. She received a positive response from the CEO and now sustainability is included in the new framework under the teacher’s Commitment to Society to promote and protect ‘the principles of human rights, sustainability and social justice’.
Since 2015 Glynne has worked with an international group of five early childhood academics to contribute to the UNESCO resource bank as the early childhood contribution to the Global Action Plan, Priority Action Area No 3 – Building capacities of educators and trainers. Each year the group invites projects from around the word and decides on awards. Glynne is the co-coordinator of this GAP initiative.
This year’s Fair Trade Diamond Award goes to Selva and Joyce for their extraordinary vision and commitment in solving an urgent problem in many impoverished communities throughout the developing world: access to clean drinking water. They have undertaken social and environmental development work, with a low environmental impact.
“Inspired by the Warka Water Tower project, Selva began to explore the possibilities of fog harvesting in Tamilnadu, India. Stories about the farmers’ suicide in the drought-hit regions were the motive behind beginning to research about water conservation and water-related work. He initially wrote to Warka Water to know about replicating and further developing their model, and they had no hesitation in giving a go ahead as the intent was to help the community. Selva’s team then redesigned the existing model.” Part of their work programme is to fully train people in the communities they are working with to ensure they can maintain and operate the equipment, thus empowering them and ensuring the on-going sustainability of the initiative.
The project is still in the implementation stage in India. They will be presenting their idea at Schneider Electrical’s Go Green in the City 2017 competition global finals in Paris next month.
The judges found this a breath-taking and heart-warming proposition, and felt it fitting that this year’s Fair Trade Diamond award be given to Selva and Joyce as their work will directly benefit communities in the developing world, and potentially those least able to deal with the coming effects of catastrophic climate change.
It is obvious that the car is a key problem for sustainability, but it seems it isn’t going away. This group of students, with the help of Bruce Robertson, took on a massive challenge to put in an entry into the Shell Eco-Marathon Design Challenge, which was held in Singapore in March. As the nominator for this entry explained: “Typically teams focus only on the amount of fuel the vehicles uses, but this team took a wider perspective and explored options for whole product life cycle energy use. The result of this was the design and build of a small car that is the first in the world to be made entirely from recyclable thermoformed plastic sheets.
Selection of this material supports reduction in energy consumption at three stages, those being the initial manufacture, service life, and end of life.” The judges loved that the car has been taken around schools, and is therefore a teaching tool. They were very impressed by the huge challenge of pulling the project together in a short space of time, and also by the outcome: a working model that could improve sustainability outcomes for transport internationally.
Tackling the hardest sustainability challenge of our time appears to be something world politicians have managed to neglect for decades. Taking positive steps towards a lower carbon future therefore needs to be done business by business, institution by institution, and home by home.
The Gold Award for General Staff this year goes to Rob Oudshoorn and his team in Engineering Services for their work in quietly retrofitting the campus with literally hundreds of interventions that have collectively begun to drive down our carbon profile. Mostly these have been around a range of energy efficiency measures which are now already in place. Construction is also underway for the new Wellness Precinct, which will be low carbon, and heated via ground source heat pump – a very significant step away from non-renewables. This award goes to Rob and his team for their commitment to the vision of a low carbon future for the University and deftness in taking practical, considered steps that take us directly there.
The judging panel was stunned by the nomination for the CAREX project led by Professors Angus McIntosh and Jon Harding. They noted that this work is of national importance and is complex, current and critical. The Canterbury Waterway Rehabilitation Experiment is focussed on improving freshwater sustainability through development and evaluation of restoration solutions for agricultural streams, surely a massive issue for Canterbury and the nation at large.
The team’s approach has (1) Proven that management and protection efforts are most effective in small waterways; (2) Highlighted the need to address local hotspots of contamination that circumvent riparian protection; (3) Developed alternatives to managing nuisance weeds; (4) Installed the first NZ bioreactors used to reduce nitrate pollution; and (5) Demonstrated that sediment traps can reduce sediment and pathogen pollution to downstream waterways.
The team uses multiple approaches to clearly and effectively communicate our findings effectively (e.g., Field days, newsletters, social media, public seminars and presentations to Councils and community groups) and they have developed CAREX Demonstration Sites to be places of knowledge generation, transfer and citizen science efforts. They work with over 20 landowners and farm managers and more than 60 other stakeholders from local government to NGOs to industry.
Their plan is to continue the project and extend their learnings to catchments across the North and South islands to test sequences and combinations of new restoration tools (e.g., habitat creation, sediment removal, nutrient remediation) in efforts to address the simultaneous stressors responsible for declines in freshwater mauri and mahinga kai. As they say, “we predict that when barriers to restoration success, including environmental, social and economic, are removed, management can be transformed and recovery can be achieved.”
Getting solar panels on campus buildings is a perennial question, and it was unanticipated that the question would be answered by a student. But that is exactly what has happened. Jackson made it his business as sustainability champion on the exec to get solar panels on a building at UC and achieved this within a matter of months – a pretty extraordinary achievement. In order to do this he needed to build a political consensus, a practical course of action and budget and attract sponsorship, all of which he pulled off with typically understated aplomb.
The judges were hugely impressed by this outcome, which means an early learning centre is now powered by the sun. Children will now have an experience there that could change their views on sustainability for life. The judges also particularly noted the social media work Jackson did to tell the story and inspire other students about what can be done. In addition, and while this was not part of their decision, the judges wanted to highlight the huge amount of work Jackson is doing within the UCSA for sustainability and congratulate him on these efforts, which will make a significant difference at UC for years to come.
It is always exciting when academic staff give accolades to general staff for their work – and this is what has happened with stormwater design work for the new RRSIC building. Academic staff from the Sciences and Engineering had a lot of input into designs for this building, and one of the stand out results is how stormwater is treated before being discharged into Okeover/Waiutuutu Stream.
Projects of this scale are inevitably hugely collaborative, but Mark wins this award as Project Manager for successfully marrying the concept of the Living Laboratory with practical stormwater treatment and the cold reality of the budget. This piece of work, which creates a new learning environment for students and academic staff, builds upon the notion of campus as a Stormwater Research Park and 20 years of stream rehabilitation on campus. As such, it not only creates learning opportunities for those on campus but has direct practical application as an exemplar for the wider Christchurch rebuild and best practice construction relating to urban waterways internationally.
|Entrant name||Project title|
|Tom Meaclem||High Efficiency Fertilisers|
|Fair Trade Steering Group||Fair Trade Accreditation|
|Mark Homewood, Capital Works||Rutherford Regional Science and Innovation Centre Stormwater|
|Jackson White||The Solar Project|
|Engineering Services||Low Carbon Campus|
|Ming Bai||Energy Transition Engineering|
|Selva Ganapathy and Jingfang (Joyce) Chen||Fog Water Harvesting|
|Mechanical Engineering Department||Eco-Marathon Design|
|Events and Partnerships||Events Waste Reduction|
|Tohoa Tetini (preferred name: MahMah Timoteo)||UC Divestment Campaign|
|Glynne Mackey||Sustainability and Social Justice|
See previous winners on our Past Sustainability Awards page.