Earth Day event celebrates York U’s sustainability leaders

Martin Bunch, chair of the President’s Sustainability Council

The fourth annual President’s Sustainability Leadership Awards reception was held on Friday, April 21 in advance of Earth Day. The celebration took place at the new Bergeron Centre for Engineering Excellence at the Keele campus.

As part of the Earth Day event, it was revealed that for the fifth year running, York University was named among Canada’s top 100 Greenest Employers.

It also was announced that the Bergeron Centre for Engineering Excellence building, which is also known as “The Cloud” had received a coveted Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) Gold designation. LEED is a third-party green building rating system used in over 160 countries.

Michael Kenny, PhD Candidate in the Faculty of Education; the Las Nubes Student Association; Joseph Sanguedolce, manager of custodial services; and Biology Professor Dawn Bazely were named recipients of the President’s Sustainability Leadership Awards by Faculty of Environmental Studies Professor Martin Bunch, who is chair of the President’s Sustainability Council. York Vice-President Academic and Provost Rhonda Lenton, who is the president-designate, presented the awards on behalf of President and Vice-Chancellor Mamdouh Shoukri (who was unable to attend the reception). The awards consisted of a keepsake copy of a book on Las Nubes that was donated by the York University Bookstore, and a plaque bearing the recipient’s name. The plaques are being made out of reclaimed wood, which is consistent with the mission of sustainability.

Michael Kenny

From left: President-designate Rhonda Lenton, York PhD student Michael Kenny and Martin Bunch, chair of the President’s Sustainability Council

Michael Kenny has studied at York University since 2008 and is now nearing the completion of his third degree, a PhD this time.  He has dedicated countless hours over the past nine years to improving sustainability at York

Kenny is a co-founder of Regenesis York, which has had an impressive record of sustainability initiatives and success under his leadership, including a student levy to support its sustainability work, a popular farmers’ market, a campus free store, a borrowing centre and more than one hundred sustainability-related events, including campus clean-ups, documentary film screenings, tree plantings and public talks.

He is being acknowledged for his success in building relationships with York University administrators to pursue sustainability at York and for his mentorship of younger students, who then go on to become champions for sustainability.

The Las Nubes Student Association

From left: President-designate Rhonda Lenton, Las Nubes Student Association representative Eric Rapelje and Martin Bunch, chair of the President’s Sustainability Council

The Las Nubes Student Association has worked to create greater accessibility for Las Nubes research, to provide York an option for fair trade sustainable coffee on campus and has helped to create opportunities for people to get involved in sustainable initiatives on campus and abroad.

The students are a constant presence in the Health Nursing and Environmental Studies Building and at events on campus where they raise funds to support sustainability initiatives associated with York University’s ecocampus, the Alexander Skutch Biological Corridor and the community partners in Costa Rica.

They have engaged with local Toronto artisans and sold their products at the Las Nubes Silent Auction, used coffee grinds to create coffee body scrubs, eliminating any waste involved in coffee production, and recently, they gave up their entire evening to volunteer at the Fisher Fund Wine Auction that raises funds for the Las Nubes Project.  At the auction, they also acted as ambassadors for the University and offered a shining example of the quality, energy and dedication of York students.

Joseph Sanguedolce

From left: President-designate Rhonda Lenton, Joseph Sanguedolce, manager of custodial services, CSBO, and Martin Bunch, chair of the President’s Sustainability Council

Joseph Sanguedolce has made great efforts to support the ongoing green cleaning initiatives for York University. In addition, he is credited for continuing the process of positive change. His efforts include the reduction of the use of garbage bags, utilizing environmentally safer cleaning products, and driving the shift from paper towels to hand dryers at York University’s Keele and Glendon campuses.

In particular, he has been a key figure in implementing and supporting the ongoing efforts to make the University’s Zero Waste Program the success that it is today. Program support through Custodial Services was the primary requirement for Zero Waste to thrive and Sanguedolce was a key factor in this success.

In addition to implementing the program, he is constantly researching and sourcing new, more environmentally sustainable Green Cleaning Products.

Dawn Bazely

From left: President-designate Rhonda Lenton, Helen Psathas, director of environmental design and sustainability, and Martin Bunch, chair of the President’s Sustainability Council. Psathas accepted the award for Professor Dawn Bazely who could not attend the reception due to a previous commitment.

Professor Dawn Bazley, who teaches in the Department of Biology in the Faculty of Science, has made impressive and sustained contributions to sustainability research, teaching and outreach at York University. She has a record of outstanding teaching, is a highly regarded expert and leader in social media communications, and pursues knowledge mobilization activities and networking on climate change, global sustainability, environmental protection, and public engagement.

Dawn Bazely

She has demonstrated leadership in sustainability in many ways, including leading and championing many research and education projects on York University’s campuses. She championed and led the application process to certify York University as an official “civil society observer” of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change process, which made it possible for York U representatives to attend as delegates at the annual Conferences of the Parties (COPs).

Particularly impressive is her ability to build bridges between the natural sciences, social sciences, and humanities, and to bring non-governmental organizations, student groups, University staff and others into productive collaborations to advance sustainability at York, in the local community, in Canada and beyond.