Pictured above from left: Green Day coordinator Ivan Wong, Amy Brunning from Heartland Forest, chair of NC’s School of Environmental and Horticultural Studies Al Unwin, NC professor and founder of the Niagara Sustainability Initiative Evan Di Valentino, Niagara Region’s sustainability coordinator Erin Britnell, and student/member of NC’s Sustainability Committee Jason Deavy.
Green Day may have come in gone, but the main message announced at the Sept. 26 event rang loud and clear: Green Day should be every day.
All Unwin, chair of NC’s School of Environmental and Horticultural Studies was among a group of speakers to address the crowd at the sixth annual Green Day event, held in the courtyard of the College’s Niagara-on-the-Lake campus.
“Even though we designated one day as Green Day here at the College, it’s certainly our hope that a lot of the students here today, and a lot of the companies, institutions you see in this tent today, will go back and make every day a green day,” said Unwin.
Unwin noted that one of the primary reasons Green Day is held is because it that it allows NC students to become engaged and involved with the various industries that support sustainability and environmental initiatives in the Niagara region. He pointed out that a number of partners that set up displays in the tent for Green Day are graduates of NC’s environmental courses and programs.
“It’s great to see programs and courses we’re teaching have translated into our students having become active members in the environmental industry,” he said. “Today we celebrate the past successes of our students and importance of environmental sustainability as a regional economic development strategy.”
Evan Di Valentino, NC professor and founder of Niagara Sustainability Initiative – an organization that has been working with the College to help measure, manage and reduce its carbon footprint – noted that the great strides have already been made. He noted that waste diversion has almost doubled in the last two years through organics collection, grains from the brewery are being used for horse feed, and solar panels have been installed at the Welland Campus as well as geothermal heating and cooling.
Di Valentino encouraged all NC students to get involved in the many opportunities on Campus to learn about renewable energy, conservation and sustainability.
“There are a lot of things going on that you have the opportunity to access that a lot of students at other campuses don’t,” he said to students.
Erin Britnell, Niagara Region’s sustainability coordinator, pointed out that members of the waste management group were present in the tent. She said that a number of changes were implemented in Feb. 2011 that resulted in the increased use of blue and grey boxes and a decrease in garbage, and that a organics collection for multi-residential buildings will be launched in October.
Britnell noted that the Niagara Region has been working in the area of sustainability for a number of years and Sustainable Niagara is its 50-year plan.
“There are 13 priority actions and the plan crosses all areas of sustainability – economic, social, cultural and environmental,” she said. “Research and Innovation that occurs here at NC has the potential to impact many of these priority areas.”
Britnell said the College is a great example of how organizations in Niagara can take the message of sustainability and put it into action.
“Policies and programs such as the bottled water ban implemented earlier this fall, and solar panels of the roof on the campus in Welland are examples of the things the College is doing towards a sustainable future,” she said.
Guest speaker Amy Brunning, a graduate of the College’s Ecosystem Restoration Program, spoke on behalf Niagara Falls-based Heartland Forest, an outdoor education centre in Niagara Falls where she works. She spoke about plans for a nature centre that will offer programming including a full-day work program for adults with disabilities and will host special events such as Pumpkin Fest in October. The nature centre is open to the public for free year-round.
In addition to speakers, the event included displays from more than 15 vendors and exhibitor at the Walker Industries exhibitor tent, including nature and conservancy clubs, environmental industries, agencies and more. It also featured a barbecue, a re-use sale and bottle run held in support of NEC’s student-driven projects and initiatives, and a popular birds of prey exhibit in the courtyard.