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June 2012
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U of T’s Sustainability Symposium

On Wednesday this past week I headed to the University of Toronto’s Sustainability Symposium. The three presenters set the stage for the following days, collaborative workshop (unfortunately I had to work on Thursday!). The three speakers all spoke on the topic of sustainability, where we’ve come from and where we are.

Bob Willard – The New Sustainability Advantage

Why are companies moving toward a corporate sustainable strategy, because we demand it! It’s not that it decreases employee turnover, improves employee engagement, increases profits and/or lowers costs, that governments demand it but it increases brand reputation, which means more demand for your product.

Having trouble getting your boss to buy into sustainability? Just like when you go to your boss with a problem make sure you have some viable solutions. When you go requesting to make sure company more sustainable, make sure you quantify it.

Want to learn more about The New Sustainability Advantage check out Willard’s website and book.

Tanzeel Merchant – Making Changes

Scale vs. Difference. Scale meaning size or dimension. Difference meaning dissimilarity. China vs. The United States. India vs Canada. Pakistan vs. England. Where you may see congestion, people living on top of each other, mess, disorganization other see beauty, an ease to get everything they need, safe neighbourhoods. It’s a matter of perspective.

This is where we live primarily. Yes Toronto, New York, London, Montreal, Boston, Chicago, Barcelona (that list goes on forever) has some really intensified, interactive neighbourhoods. But primarily we live the American Dream in suburban sprawl with larger houses with property, we drive to the grocery store and then to the bank and then to the baker, the butcher, to soccer practice… we drive everywhere.

If we want to see change with need to act. Society looks to governments for change. But governments are big and beaurocratic, they move slow. If you want significant change than inflict it from the bottom; sometimes it’s easier to ask for forgiveness rather than permission.

“To count, differences must interact.” – Richard Sennet. How and where you live is a matter of personal choice; you decide what’s most important.

John Robinson – Fostering Sustainable Cities

The University of British Columbia (UBC) campus sits at the south-western edge of Vancouver along the Pacific coast. Having visited recently I can tell you that it is a truly unique, magestic campus. Vancouver set the bar high for sustainability; it wants to be the most sustainable city in the world and UBC is helping them lead the way. UBC has a regenerative building; it gives back more to campus than it takes.

How did they get here?

They set ambiguous goals with specific, attainable deliverables.

It also helps that BC has a carbon tax, $30/Tonne of CO2 as of July 1, 2012, that the Public Sector is expected to be carbon neutral and they have a green communities act.

Comments

Comment from Sasha
Time July 17, 2012 at 12:45 pm

The presentations from Bob Willard and Tanzeel Merchant have now been posted on U of T’s Sustainability page, which can be found at: http://www.citiescentre.utoronto.ca/about/Events/U_of_T_Sustainability_Symposium_Evening_Lecture.htm