The 2018-19 President’s Sustainability Award recipients move into the spotlight on the main stage

Photo by Tobias Weinhold on Unsplash

The 2018-19 President’s Sustainability Leadership Awards reception was in spotlight June 12.

The event took place on the main stage in the Sandra Faire & Ivan Fecan Theatre on the Keele Campus and was MCed by Vice-President of Finance and Administration Carol McAulay. This year’s award recipients were: Michelle Chin-Dawe of Regenesis; the Institute of Transportation Engineers (ITE) York University Student Chapter; the York University Performance Facilities technical team in the School of the Arts, Media, Performance & Design (AMPD); and Professor Ian Garrett and his Center for Sustainable Practice in the Arts.

Each recipient was greeted by York University President and Vice-Chancellor Rhonda L. Lenton who then presented them with the bespoke awards created for the event. Lassonde Professor Usman Khan, Chair of the President’s Sustainability Council, introduced each of the recipients.

Michelle Chin-Dawe

From left: Michelle Chin-Dawe; Rhonda L. Lenton, York University President and Vice-Chancellor; Usman Khan, President’s Sustainability Council Chair and Lassonde School of Engineering professor

Chin-Dawe has been an active member of the York University community for many years as an undergraduate and now as a graduate student in the Faculty of Environmental Studies. Chin-Dawe also works with Regensis and is the YUM! Farmers’ Market co-ordinator. Chin-Dawe and the students who run the event go above and beyond every week that they set up the event. Chin-Dawe is a full-time graduate student, has a full-time job and is also a mother. With her hectic schedule, she somehow makes it to the market every Wednesday morning at 9 a.m. sharp to set up the vendors and organize the student volunteers. As a graduate student who is working in food systems, she is passionate about more than just an affordable fresh market and goes out of her way to educate YUM! visitors on issues surrounding food procurement, food insecurity, and fresh and local food. Chin-Dawe’s pride and dedication as a long-standing student exemplifies an extraordinary personal commitment and a true sustainability leader.

The Institute of Transportation Engineers, York University Student Chapter

From left: Usman Khan, Chair of the President’s Sustainability Council; York University President and Vice-Chancellor Rhonda L. Lenton; Erik Nevland, ITE York University Student Chapter founding president (2018-19); Tanvir Chowdhury, ITE York University Student Chapter current president (2019-20); and Professor 
Kevin Gingerich, ITE York University Student Chapter faculty advisor

The ITE York University Student Chapter began in March 2018 and has already reached many milestones. The group is the most active ITE student chapter in Ontario, and it brings together industry and students. The group has hosted more than 60 events, including monthly seminars, workshops, tours and field trips on topics such as new urbanism, intelligent transportation systems and the future of transportation. These events have showcased the inventive approaches the industry is taking to ensure that environmental impacts are minimized without sacrificing equitable mobility. The ITE York University Student Chapter has gone beyond what is typically expected of a traditional student group or club. Sustainability is a substantial part of transportation, and the group has done an excellent job in teaching the next generation of transportation professionals to recognize the consequences of their decisions and work as a community to reduce society’s ecological footprint.

The York University Performance Facilities technical team (AMPD)

From left: Usman Khan, Chair of the President’s Sustainability Council; staff from the Performance Facilities management team; York University President and Vice-Chancellor Rhonda L. Lenton

The team did research, procurement and installation of new LED theatrical lights in the two main venues: the Sandra Faire & Ivan Fecan Theatre and the Tribute Communities Recital Hall, both located on the Keele Campus. The team replaced certain lighting systems in both spaces (a group of lights with the specific purpose of front washing or illuminating the theatre stage), from lighting fixtures that used old tungsten bulbs to new LED lights. Team members systematically chose lighting systems that were high in wattage and replaced them with the low wattage LED fixtures. An example of this would be the top wash in the Sandra Faire & Ivan Fecan Theatre, which consisted of tungsten theatrical lights that had total of 2,000 watts per fixture. With 15 lights in that system, it totalled a whopping 30,000 watts. The 15 LED lights that replaced this system are 155 watts per fixture, totalling 2325 watts. A significant reduction was achieved. In total, the Performance Facilities technical team replaced 84 tungsten lights with LED fixtures, going from a total wattage of 86,415 to 9,380, a reduction amount of more than 90 per cent. The new LED fixtures have drastically improved the lighting for the events and shows that the academic departments and the internal and external stakeholders put on in the venues.

Ian Garrett, Climate Change Theatre Action (not in attendance)

Professor Ian Garrett speaks via video about his Climate Change Theatre Action initiative

Professor Garrett and his Centre for Sustainable Practice in the Arts are key partners in Climate Change Theatre Action, a worldwide series of readings and performances of short climate change plays founded in 2015 and presented biennially to coincide with the United Nations Conference of the Parties meetings. The Climate Change Theatre Action commissions 50 playwrights to write short pieces about climate change – the plays are then available for free to groups to produce around the world. In 2017, 140 events were presented in 23 countries, reaching 12,000 people. The project put York University at the centre of this global event. Current students delivered the on-campus readings and alumni were commissioned to write the short plays. Garrett’s international work will further enrich York’s theatre program and ensure that York University is leading the charge on climate change. Garrett, who was not able to attend the event, did deliver a quote to the proceedings: “York is unique in that its theatre program is perhaps the only one in the world that has a sustainable focus and has wrapped it around its entire theatre training curriculum.”

Following the event, guests watched a mini documentary on the Climate Change Theatre Action. They were then invited onto the stage to learn more about the energy-efficient theatre lighting and enjoy sustainable snacks that were provided by YUM! Market vendors.

Guests watch a demonstration of the new LED lights by staff members in the Performance Facilities management team


Michelle Chin-Dawe with the refreshments provided by the YUM! Market