Campus Sustainability Leaders Awards

The Campus Sustainability Leaders Awards recognize outstanding individuals for their efforts to build a socially, environmentally and economically sustainable world. These winners are leading the way in how our university operates, the services we provide, the way we teach, and strengthening the fabric of campus life and community.

Honourees are selected by an impartial jury based on an assessment of their dedication, impact and leadership. All University of Alberta students, academic staff (including adjuncts, postdocs and sessionals) and support staff (including students unions, dining services and contracted workers) in groups or as individuals may be honoured.

Presented by the Sustainability Council with Energy Management and Sustainable Operations.

These awards strive to recognize the range of ways in which campus sustainability may be pursued.

  • Campus Life & Involvement: For extraordinary personal engagement with sustainability issues in campus life and extracurriculars.
  • Teaching: For passion and innovation in bringing sustainability into the classroom, both as a topic and as a practice.
  • Research: For significant scholarly contributions that integrate environmental with social and/or economic dimensions.
  • Operations: For advancing the sustainability of the university's operations and facilities.

Winners for 2020

Congratulations to the winners for 2020! Please read about the individuals and groups below, whose exceptional accomplishments are the foundation for the University of Alberta's gold reputation in sustainability.

Biology Core Courses Prep Team - Teaching

The Biology Core Courses Prep Team is integral to the University of Alberta’s biology education and these technicians have long held a strong culture of environmental responsibility, working hard to integrate sustainability into their courses. They currently maintain gold certification with Green Spaces.

These technicians lead by example, setting behavioural norms and demonstrating the best sustainability practices for future biologists. Through their day-to-day efforts, the team maintains a fiscal responsibility and ecological ethic common to biologists. Students are exposed to a green lab experience with the reuse and repurposing of supplies, use of compostable cups, and electronic submission of assignments. They are also taught how to properly recycle and dispose of lab waste. These efforts allow students to adopt and internalize sustainable practices as they further their careers in science and beyond.

These technicians continue to brainstorm new initiatives. They are honoured to have been selected as award winners, and are thankful to their supervisor Carla Starchuk for acknowledging their efforts. They also extend their thanks to the lab coordinators who make their work possible. In light of the COVID-19 pandemic, the technicians wish for the campus community to stay safe and healthy, and continue to be mindful of sustainability in this challenging time.

Chemistry Students’ Association - Operations

The Chemistry Students’ Association (CSA) is an undergraduate student group that actively champions sustainability despite running on a tight budget. Their office is one of the few to be certified gold with Green Spaces within the Gunning-Lemieux Chemistry Centre. Not only has the group worked towards adopting sustainable office practices, they have also amended their constitution to include a commitment to sustainability.

The CSA procured its own bins for sorting organics, beverage containers and paper products and has passionately advocated for the adoption of Zero Waste bins and green lab practices within the chemistry department at-large. They are also committed to promoting inclusivity and gender equality. CSA executives are required to take gender-based analysis and unconscious bias training before stepping into their roles. They have also advocated for this training to be adopted by research groups in the chemistry department.

Moving forward, the CSA hopes to establish meaningful partnerships that allow for more sustainable alternatives. The group aims to further raise the standard for sustainability in their events, and to raise awareness of this issue with other groups. They acknowledge the numerous opportunities that the University of Alberta community has provided for growth and improvement, and are thankful to have been selected as award winners.

Larry Zhong - Campus Life & Involvement

Larry Zhong is an electrical engineering student who has been a part of many sustainability initiatives ever since he was in junior high. His interest in renewable energy was furthered when he happened to watch Earth 2100, a TV movie that explores the impacts of natural resource depletion and climate change. Since then, he has shown insurmountable dedication to championing sustainability as a student leader.

One of Larry’s biggest contributions to sustainability on campus is the creation of the club Renewable Energy Design (RED). Since 2017, the club has provided students with opportunities for learning and experimenting with renewable energy concepts. As RED’s president, Larry has spearheaded three main projects: a solar-powered phone charging station to be installed in the Students’ Union Building a wind turbine design contest; and a net-zero green housing project. He has also hosted sessions for students to discuss new energy solutions and explore topics such as the integration of engineering and permaculture.

Larry hopes his projects inspire other students to get started with their own sustainability initiatives. He hopes to continue promoting the practicality of renewable energy. Larry is thankful to be named an award winner and has commented: “During the challenging time of COVID-19, I would like to wish that everyone stays healthy. If you have any questions regarding Renewable Energy Design or would like to chat digitally, feel free to send an email to redesign@ualberta.ca or reach me directly at zhong3@ualberta.ca.”

Peter Anto Johnson - Campus Life & Involvement

Peter Anto Johnson is a graduate student in the Faculty of Medicine & Dentistry. He is completing a master’s degree in pediatrics. His engagement with sustainability began as an undergraduate student, and he has had a large impact on campus through several leadership roles. Peter’s personal definition of sustainability revolves around promoting efficiency and growth in the community.

As Vice-President External for the Health & Wellness Movement, he chaired a committee called Nourish, which served to promote nutritional wellness and provided university students with low-cost healthy food alternatives. In his role as the president of the Canadian Coalition for Global Health Research’s Alberta chapter, Peter started an online spotlight series to highlight the university’s environmental health and global policy research achievements. He has also headed the group’s participation in several climate strikes. Additionally, Peter is founder of the student-led PLAY program, which promotes physical literacy and instills long-term physical activity habits amongst sedentary youth. It has been implemented in two daycare centres and one elementary school thus far.
Peter looks forward to developing sustainable technology for the medical field in the future. He values innovation and creativity, and is currently researching the idea of reusable face-masks in light of the COVID-19 pandemic. As an award winner, Peter would like to acknowledge all the student groups that have been a part of his academic career. He is also thankful to his research supervisors and members of the community for being open to his initiatives.

Sourayan Mookerjea - Research

Sourayan Mookerjea is an associate professor of sociology and Research Director of the Intermedia Research Studio. His efforts as a researcher have explored the sociological background of sustainability and renewable resources. He demonstrates a dedication to sustainability that permeates his classes and several of his research projects. As an advocate of environmental stewardship, he uses his platform to help students develop a holistic understanding of clean energy.

Dr. Mookerjea’s projects have focused on intermedia and decolonizing social theory, in the context of sustainability. As co-lead of Feminist Energy Futures, he addresses how nonrenewable energy markets disproportionately affect men and women. He has investigated how co-operatives, such as those that have allowed illiterate Dalit women farmers to thrive, can aid in managing the economic impacts of the oil & gas industry. Dr. Mookerjea has also developed a feminist energy transition simulation called Perfect Storm, which is used as a research and teaching tool.

As an award winner, he is thankful to his students and to the University of Alberta community for nourishing his research. He offers special thanks to his colleagues in the Just Powers research network, especially Sheena Wilson and Natalie Loveless, as well as his colleagues in the Arts Environmental Studies Consortium for creating a supportive community for sustainability and political ecology research and teaching.

Honourable mentions

The following nominees are impressive in their own right and well deserving of recognition for their commitment to campus sustainability.

Career Centre and Undergraduate Research Initiative - Operations

The Career Centre and the Undergraduate Research Initiative (URI)are departments that have shown exemplary dedication to the promotion of sustainability in their programming and operations. Both of their offices hold gold certification with Green Spaces, and they have worked hard to incorporate green practices into their events. Career Centre and URI staff readily prioritize sustainability in their operational planning and management, and demonstrate a clear willingness to engage students with sustainability focused events.

Both departments have implemented Green Spaces guidelines to reduce their carbon footprint. This includes ordering reusable supplies, proper sorting and disposal of waste, and efficient recycling. Their offices are transitioning to being predominantly paperless, and maintain paper-efficient record-keeping practices. In terms of events, the Festival of Undergraduate Research and Creative Activities has integrated sustainability into their programming by partnering with the Sustainability Council. The Career Centre has hosted a sustainability-themed speaker series for 10 years, and makes use of reusable dishes and Zero Waste bins for their events.

The Career Centre and URI look forward to ensuring the implementation and longevity of even more sustainable practices in their offices and events. They also hope to continue improving upon their current green initiatives. The departments are grateful to receive an honorary mention, and view this recognition as a source of encouragement for their efforts. In light of the COVID-19 pandemic, they stress the importance of keeping sustainability in mind as the situation evolves.