By Alberto Galina Mendoza
The arms of the UBC living lab initiative are reaching out to the world and this time working with one of the largest property developers in China to advance the sustainability movement in both countries.
For a man who envisions new ways of addressing sustainability, being honoured as Environmental Scientist of the Year is recognition of years of hard work and quiet dedication. John Robinson, executive director of the UBC Sustainability Initiative and professor in the Department of Geography and the Institute for Resources, Environment and Sustainability, has been chosen the 2012 Environmental Scientist of the Year by Canadian Geographic.
Sustainability leaders tackle tough questions: What is the bigger game you are playing? What are you trying to achieve as a sustainability leader? Why, in the face of such challenging global issues, are you doing this? Isn’t there an easier way to make a living?
What if there was a new way of approaching sustainability? What if the old environmental agenda of doing things “less bad”—using less energy, taking shorter showers, sacrificing our Western lifestyle—wasn’t the best way forward? What if instead we built buildings and neighbourhoods that actually contributed to the wellbeing of the planet and those that live on it?
by John Robinson for UBC Reports | Vol. 57 | No. 1 | Dec. 29, 2010
The old paradigm aimed to reduce environmental impact. The future is about buildings that actually improve our environment.
Can we build cities with buildings that reduce a community’s energy consumption and carbon emissions, that improve the quality of water flowing through their sites, that restore their environments… and that make people happy?
Yes we can, and we are, right here at UBC.
UBC is breaking new ground in sustainability – both figuratively and literally. On January 27, President Stephen Toope announced the creation of an ambitious sustainability initiative at UBC’s Vancouver campus that will promote and unite sustainability efforts in teaching and learning, research and campus operations.
“Sustainability is about what kind of world we want to live in,” says UBC’s John Robinson. If so, then the ambitious project he’s leading – the development of the Centre for Interactive Research on Sustainability (CIRS) – should provide some valuable inspiration. The $37-million building will be greenhouse gas-positive and a net energy producer, meaning that it will help UBC reduce the energy it uses and carbon it emits. All water will be sourced from rainwater, with wastewater treatment occurring on site.