uOttawa EcoNetwork

Friday, November 30, 2012

The University of Ottawa's EcoNetwork is a network of campus community members that work on creating a more sustainable campus through focused and engaged actions.

The concept is all about connections.
Sustainability is a huge undertaking. There are so many little things to think about on our campus that it can be quite overwhelming. Where do you recycle your batteries, how far did this food travel before it got to my plate, is the paper in a textbook worse than the energy used in a laptop, why aren't there more trees on campus...etc.

So how can we tackle sustainability on our campus if there are so many issues to deal with? Simple, increase the number of people that do sustainability on campus. Thus, we created an EcoNetwork.

The University of Ottawa's EcoNetwork isn't a new concept, it was actually launched in 2010 and we just relaunched the program last month. The idea was to create a network of individuals that could share best practices about sustainability on campus. Things like setting your printer to double-sided printing, where to order environmentally-friendly office supplies, and how to pack a litter-less lunch.

But the benefits didn't stop there. The hope was that if a solid network was established, the members of this network could also spread the word about best practices on campus. So, for example, if the University launched a new plastics recycling program the members of the EcoNetwork could help get the word out. Personally, I have always felt that word of mouth is the best way to send a message and that's exactly what this program aims to do.

But I am saving the best part for last. The EcoNetwork is composed of a bunch of super dedicated sustainability advocates that we call EcoChampions. Like any champions program, we are hoping to harness the positiveness and enthusiasm of the community and channel it into making a more sustainable campus. Check out this video for an idea of what I mean.

We have set up a series of workshops between now and the end of the academic year designed to engage the EcoChampions in strategic sustainability issues. Each workshop is designed to 1) Share information; 2) Gather feedback; and 3) Provide tools for immediate action. Our hope is that as we go through these workshops the EcoChampions will take ownership of the sustainability issues on campus and slowly become the enablers for action.

We connect the people to the problems
We connect the people to the tools
We connect the people to one another

And hopefully
They connect the problems to the campus
They connect the ideas to the possibilities
They connect the solutions to the problems

We are tracking the progress of the EcoNetwork and hopefully by this time next year we will have a robust network of about 100 champions and a webpage oozing with tools. If you want to get involved, check out our webpage for more info.

~ jon - campus sustainability manager
photo credit - jonathan rausseo

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