York instructor Mark Terry’s new documentary to screen at COP26

Iceland mountain under white clouds

York University contract faculty member Mark Terry’s new documentary film, The Changing Face of Iceland, will screen at the 2021 United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP26) in Glasgow, Scotland, on Nov. 4.

The United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) has selected The Changing Face of Iceland, the third instalment in Terry’s trilogy of polar documentaries focusing on the impacts climate change on the island nation of Iceland, as an official Action for Climate Empowerment project under Article 6 of the Paris Agreement. As such, it is scheduled for a screening at a two-hour event at COP26.

The Changing Face of Iceland. COP26. Official Screening: Thursday, November 4, 2021, 18:00 to 20:00
Mark Terry
Mark Terry

Terry – a Fellow of the Royal Society of Canada, an associate to the UNESCO Chair in Reorienting Education towards Sustainability at York and a contract faculty member in York’s Faculty of Environmental and Urban Change – will introduce his film at the event and take questions after the screening. 

The Changing Face of Iceland is a production of the Youth Climate Report, a partner program of the UNFCCC since 2011. The documentary examines the toll climate change has taken on Iceland’s glaciers, land, flora, fauna, fish, economy and people. The film also includes exclusive footage of the recent eruptions of Fagradalsfjall, an active volcano only 40 kilometres from Iceland’s capital, Reykjavík.

The two previous films in the trilogy, The Antarctica Challenge: A Global Warning (2009) and The Polar Explorer (2011), have been aired on CBC in Canada and released in the U.S. by PBS, as well as screened at past United Nations climate summits.

For further information, contact Terry by email at ycrtv1@gmail.com.

Climate change first on CIFAL York’s agenda

Photo by Jon from Pexels

York is hosting a knowledge-exchange dialogue, Oct. 20 and 21, in preparation for the United Nations (UN) Climate Change Conference (COP26) that begins Oct. 31 in Glasgow, Scotland. As part of this event, there will be a public information webinar at 11 a.m. on Oct. 21.

By Elaine Smith, special contributor

Idil Boran
Idil Boran

CIFAL York is launching its first event, a knowledge-exchange dialogue, to strengthen multilevel action for climate, nature and people. Organized for Oct. 20 and 21, this international technical expert workshop provides the knowledge base for Professor Idil Boran to convene an official side event to the UN Climate Change Conference, COP26, to a larger audience in Glasgow, Scotland.

CIFAL centres provide innovative training throughout the world and serve as hubs for the exchange of knowledge among government officials, the private sector, academia and civil society. CIFAL York, which will eventually have its home at the Markham Campus, is led by Faculty of Liberal Arts & Professional Studies (LA&PS) Professor Ali Asgary, School of Administrative Studies, with Idil Boran, an associate professor of philosophy (LA&PS) who leads the Synergies of Planetary Health Research Initiative, an international and interdisciplinary research partnership at York’s Dahdaleh Institute for Global Health Research.

“Our inaugural event is synchronized with both the UN Biodiversity COP15 (Part 1), held online from Oct. 11 to 15, and the UN Climate Change COP26, held in person in Glasgow from Oct. 31 to Nov. 12, and is aligned with the Sustainable Development Goals,” said Boran. Both the biodiversity and climate COPs were to be held in 2020 but had to be postponed due to the global COVID-19 pandemic.

“We are seeing heightened awareness on these planetary challenges, but the world is far behind on both crises,” Boran said. “Transformative change is needed at the level of policy, practices and mindset. Cities, regions, businesses and governments are making commitments, but what are these commitments? Are they being delivered? What are their impacts? How can they be scaled and elicit more commitments?” Above all, Boran noted, commitments must respect the land rights of Indigenous Peoples.  

Ali Asgary
Ali Asgary

“We’ve invited Canadian and international participants, both researchers and practitioners, to share knowledge and experiences and identify priorities for accelerating and strengthening multilevel joint action for nature and the climate by multiplicity of actors, while delivering the sustainable development goals,” Boran said.

The event’s key message is that climate change is not a singular issue but is deeply interconnected with multiple planetary challenges.

“When we talk about the biodiversity-climate interlinkages, we are also concerned about their impacts on human health, as well as wildlife and environmental health,” Boran said. “The climate and the biodiversity crises share root causes. Climate change worsens biodiversity loss, but protecting the ecosystem, if done right, can help respond to the effects of climate change.”

The knowledge-exchange dialogue is by invitation only, although there will be a public plenary webinar at 11 a.m. on Oct. 21. The other sessions will feature panels for participants and parallel interactive discussion roundtables.

York University President and Vice-Chancellor Rhonda L. Lenton will deliver the event’s opening remarks. There will be a variety of sessions, including one on Indigenous nature stewardship and others dealing with agriculture, food and healthy communities, urban nature-based initiatives, oceans and coastal zones, and methodologies for assessing progress. The workshop will set the foundation for creating a working group toward a deliverable and will kick-start a series of dialogues.

“In addition to showcasing the workshop at COP26, we hope to create a working group with the aim of connecting the work being done locally and regionally to the global process,” Boran said. “Our official event in Glasgow is an opportunity to share the first insights from this workshop.”

This event is organized by CIFAL York with the collaboration of the German Development Institute/Deutsches Institut für Entwicklungspolitik (DIE), based in Bonn Germany, and the Grantham Institute for Climate Change and the Environment, Imperial College London, based in the U.K., one of the partnering institutions for the side event at COP26 in Glasgow. At York University, event partners are: York International; the Office of Research and Innovation; the UNESCO Chair in Reorienting Education towards Sustainability; the Synergies of Planetary Health Research Initiative and Lab, with the support of the Dahdaleh Institute for Global Health Research; LA&PS; and a Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council exchange knowledge-mobilization fund.

“York University is pleased to support CIFAL York’s contributions towards advancing UN SDGs,” said Vice-President Research and Innovation Amir Asif. “York researchers like professors Boran and Asgary are actively exploring planetary climatic and environmental change with particular emphasis on biodiversity, reducing Canada’s overall carbon footprint and building sustainable energy sources of the future. This knowledge-exchange dialogue and the followup official event at the UN Climate Change Conference in Glasgow helps us in achieving our goal of forging a just and equitable world.”

To register, visit https://hopin.com/events/multi-level-joint-actionfor-climate-nature-and-people.

Learning for a Sustainable Future youth program garners top Clean50 award

Photo by Singkham from Pexels

The Virtual Climate Change Youth Forums offered by Learning for a Sustainable Future (LSF), a Canadian charity located at York University, empower learners in a warming world and encourage youth to take action on the climate.

Students show off their poster created in a LSF Youth Forum sponsored by RBC
LSF Youth Forum participants show off a poster they created

LSF’s Virtual Climate Change Youth Forums program has been named a recipient of Canada’s Clean50 Top Project award. The annual award recognizes the contributions of projects towards a cleaner, healthier, innovation-based, low-carbon economy supporting all Canadians. Clean50 Top Projects were selected from more than 100 nominees, based on their innovation, their ability to inspire other Canadians to take action and, most importantly, their climate-action impact. 

LSF’s Youth Forums have historically been held as full-day, in-person experiences, but due to the impact of the pandemic, LSF decided to move the Youth Forums online.

“We knew that skipping a year wasn’t an option,” says LSF President and CEO Pamela Schwartzberg, “since students needed access to the skills and knowledge provided in the forums. So, LSF created a multi-component virtual event series offered over a six-week period.

“While creating a new delivery model, LSF also had to accommodate various school board privacy policies, teachers who were new to technology and virtual learning, events covering multiple time zones and a myriad of school schedules, and student learning at home, at school or a combination of both,” says Schwartzberg. “Our new Virtual Youth Forums still build a sense of community and connection among teachers and students from different schools. Most importantly, the forums engaged students in climate change issues, equipped them with skills and knowledge, and empowered them to take action.”

The virtual events dramatically increased LSF’s audience and geographic reach, with 17,600 students from all of Canada’s provinces and territories receiving an opportunity to contribute to the fight against climate change by participating in an Action Project.

LSF is a Canadian charity founded in 1991. Working with businesses, governments, school boards, universities, communities, educators and youth across Canada, LSF’s programs and partnerships are helping students learn to address the increasingly difficult economic, social and environmental challenges of the 21st century. LSF has been located at York University since 1997.

Read about LSF’s Virtual Youth Forums by visiting the Clean50 Top Projects website. Registration is open for upcoming Youth Forums. To learn more, visit the Youth Forums web page.

Buzz-worthy virtual conference devoted to bees

Two honey bees on lavender plants

This year’s BeeCon will explore the effects of human-driven landscape disturbance on wild bee communities, the development of diagnostic tools for neonicotinoid exposure, altruistic and selfish aggression in honey bees and more.

BeeCon is a free, annual, now virtual, bee conference running Oct. 15 and 16 that brings local, national and international bee biologists together to discuss bees, their behaviour, taxonomy, genomics, ecology, and conservation, hosted by the Centre for Bee Ecology, Evolution and Conservation at York University.

The two-day event will feature a keynote at 11am on Oct. 15 by Associate Professor Shalene Jha of the Department of Integrative Biology at the University of Texas, Austin, discussing plant-pollinator interactions and ecosystem services in the face of global change.

Below is a selection of some of the many symposium talks, each 15 minutes in length:

Oct. 15

9:30 a.m.  Can green roofs compensate for the loss of (Hymenopteran) biodiversity in cities? – Jeffrey Jacobs of Hasselt University, Belgium

12 p.m. Assessing the impacts of urban beehives on wild bees using individual, population-level, and community level metrics – Hadil Elsayed of York University

2:45 p.m. Effects of Social Status on Aggression in a Facultatively Social Bee Species (Xylocopa virginica) – James Mesich of Brock University

3:45 p.m. Social environment and sibling cooperation in a small carpenter bee – Jesse Huisken of York University

Oct. 16

9 a.m. Holocene population expansion of a tropical bee coincides with early human colonisation of Fiji rather than climate change – James Dorey of Yale University

9:30 a.m. The risks of crop exposure to honey bee colonies – Sarah French of York University

9:45 a.m. The blueberries & the bees: assessing honey bee health stressors using proteomics – Rhonda Thygesen of the University of British Columbia

10:15 a.m. Corpse management in bumblebee colonies – Victoria Blanchard of Royal Holloway, University of London

11:15 a.m. Assessment of habitat use & ecology of native bee communities in tallgrass prairie and oak savanna in Southern Ontario – Janean Sharkey of the University of Guelph

Click here for the schedule of speakers.

To register for Oct. 15, click here and to register for Oct. 16, click here.

UNESCO Chair Charles Hopkins recognized with lifetime achievement award

Featured image for stories related to sustainability

York University’s UNESCO Chair Charles Hopkins is the recipient of the Clean50 Lifetime Achievement Award for his work on a global scale to reorient education towards sustainable development. This prestigious award recognizes Hopkins’ focus on creating a better future for all.

Charles Hopkins

Climate challenges facing Canada can not be resolved by anything less than a collaborative, full assault on every element of the problem. Broad solutions are needed. To create holistic strategies for future economies and imagine better ways of living together in Canada and beyond, thought leaders from all sectors of industry, business, academia, the arts and civil society need to be involved.

Canada’s Clean50 award program and annual summit were founded in 2011 by Canada’s leading clean tech and sustainability executive search firm Delta Management Group to bring these sustainability leaders together. In its 10th edition, Canada’s Clean50 Awards celebrate the 2022 top sustainability leaders in Canada. Fifty remarkable and inspiring individuals in 16 different categories as well as emerging leaders, Canadian business and five selected sustainability heroes will be recognized with Lifetime Achievement Awards during this year’s summit, which took place Oct. 1. A record number of nominations were received for this year’s awards.

Charles Hopkins, York University’s UNESCO Chair, received the 2022 Lifetime Achievement Award for decades of dedicated engagement in reorienting education systems towards sustainable development as well as fostering cross-sector thinking connecting academia with business, industry, the arts and the general public towards a better future for all. As one of the early advocates for place-based and experiential learning as a principal of outdoor schools in Canada during the 1970s and 1980s, his list of involvements is long. He presented to the Brundtland Commission and co-authored Chapter 36 in Agenda 21, the first United Nations implementation plan for a more sustainable future, coming out of the Earth Summit in Rio de Janeiro in 1992.

Since assuming the role of UNESCO Chair in Reorienting Education towards Sustainability at York in 1999, he has been co-ordinating two global research networks, each active in more than 50 countries: the International Network of Teacher Education Institutions and the #IndigenousESD Network. He is advisor to the Global Network of Regional Centres of Expertise on ESD hosted by the United Nations University’s Institute of Advanced Studies in Sustainability, and co-director of the Asia-Pacific Institute on ESD in Beijing.

As a member of the President´s Sustainability Council at York University and the co-chair of the Knowledge Working Group, Hopkins works to embed the idea of the “university as a whole” moving towards sustainability, placing sustainable development as a theme in the curriculum, rethinking operations, facilities and management practices, and changing the culture on York’s campuses.

As part of its new University Academic Plan 2020-2025, York University articulated its commitment to elevate action on the United Nations’ 17 Sustainable Development Goals and contribute meaningfully to building a better future.

York-led #IndigenousESD Network aims to enhance education for Indigenous youth

UNESCO #IndigenousESD featured image

One of the many ways York University drives positive change is through the work of its United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) Chair in Reorienting Education Towards Sustainability, a position held by Charles A. Hopkins. For over two decades, Hopkins has championed education for sustainable development (ESD) initiatives. In 2017, he launched the #IndigenousESD Network, the first global research network dedicated to enhancing education for Indigenous youth within the framework of the United Nations (UN) Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

The SDGs call on member countries to take action in areas that are critical to ensure peace, partnership, and prosperity for people and the planet. York University is answering the call. The new York University Academic Plan (UAP) challenges the University community to elevate its engagement with the SDGs.

Globally, Indigenous Peoples are among the most vulnerable groups when it comes to access to education. The #IndigenousESD Network brings these issues to the forefront of conversations within the UN and beyond. The focus of this network is researching both “if” and “how” ESD practice can improve the education and training of Indigenous Peoples around the world. ESD, as a holistic learning concept, can empower learners to make informed decisions and take responsible actions for a sustainable future. It has been recognized as an integral element of SDG No. 4 on Quality Education, which is a key enabler of all other SDGs.

“Reorienting Education and Training Systems to Improve the Education Outcomes of Indigenous Youth” is one #IndigenousESD global research project coordinated by the UNESCO Chair that has reached Indigenous communities in over 40 countries. The research involved helps strengthen Indigenous voices, provide policy advice, and inform the SDGs to reach the least-served first and ensure that no country or person is left behind.

UNESCO #IndigenousESD group photo
Pictured above, left to right: #IndigenousESD co-ordinators D. Razak (Malaysia), T. Shakirova (Kazakhstan), C. Matheson (Canada), K. Kohl (Germany/Canada), Charles Hopkins (Canada) and M. Otieno (Kenya), with donors Carol and Andre Kozak. (Photo by Sherri Moroso, City of Greater Sudbury)

Answering the call

The UNESCO Chair’s work in driving positive change by taking concrete action on the UN’s commitment to quality education appealed to donors Carol and Andre Kozak. The couple was inspired to support the Chair when they learned about the struggles of Indigenous children and realized how seldom Indigenous education research was funded. “A respectful dialogue on quality education that would connect Indigenous Peoples from different countries to strengthen their voice seemed crucial to us,” says Andre Kozak.

The Kozaks’ generosity helped bring together stakeholders from five different UN regions to spark conversation about quality education for Indigenous children and youth. Planning meetings were held in Malaysia for the Asia-Pacific region, in Chile for the South American region, in Nigeria for the sub-Saharan African and Southern African regions, in Kazakhstan for the Central Asian region, and in Canada for the Central and North American regions. Carol and Andre provided hands-on involvement by meeting with coordinators from Malaysia, Kazakhstan, Kenya and Canada.

As a result of these meetings, the following research initiatives were agreed upon by all regions:

  1. In 2018-19, researchers documented varying perspectives on quality education and its desired outcomes as seen by ministries of education, Indigenous community leaders, schools, parents, students and other stakeholders in 54 settings in 29 countries. Ten recommendations were made to UNESCO for their engagement with Indigenous Peoples and published in peer-reviewed journals.
  2. A collection of “Good Practices using ESD,” with 32 practices from 29 countries, was submitted to the UN’s Office of the High Commissioner Special Rapporteur on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples to support the COVID-19 recovery of Indigenous Peoples, with education at the core of all efforts.
  3. When the pandemic lifts, selected researchers and Indigenous communities will jointly implement specific changes in the curriculum or pedagogy to better understand their potential to improve the overall quality of education.

Building a better future

Beyond research, the Kozaks’ support has been integral in helping members of the #IndigenousESD Network build partnerships with Indigenous communities and government agencies to help inform pandemic relief strategies and address ongoing social and economic challenges.

In the Philippines, for example, network member Leyte Normal University (LNU), under the leadership of Jude Duarte and Janet Presnilla-Espada, launched a whole-community partnership with two schools and their communities to make quality education accessible by creating a long-term supportive pipeline from primary school to post-secondary. Also, when the homes of the Mamanwa Tribe were flooded, LNU assisted with resettlement efforts. During the COVID-19 pandemic, LNU has been crucial in helping with food and supplies as the villages lost business opportunities during lockdowns.

“It is our hope,” says Carol Kozak, “that the research findings will be used to better serve Indigenous youth and inspire to build strong partnerships with Indigenous communities.”

Welcome to the inaugural issue of ‘Sustainable YU’

Sustainable YU Approved Header for YFile

Sustainable YU Approved Header for YFileWelcome to the inaugural issue of ‘Sustainable YU,’ a special edition of YFile that showcases stories about sustainability in action at York University.

Nicole Arsenault
Nicole Arsenault

This special issue, which will publish on select Fridays during the academic year, offers compelling and accessible feature-length stories. The articles and features contained in this publication illustrate the work underway by students, faculty and staff across all Faculties and divisions at York University to achieve the United Nations’ 17 Sustainability Development Goals (SDGs) – a key pillar of Building a Better Future: York University Academic Plan 2020-2025 – a guiding document published earlier this year.

The editors of ‘Sustainable YU’ and I want to hear from you. Do you have an SDG story you can share with us that showcases an initiative or project happening at York University that supports our efforts to achieve the UN SDGs?

We welcome stories from students, faculty, staff, and other groups in the York University community. You can share your stories here and include a narrative, photos and/or videos. We welcome all contributions no matter how big or small – everything has an impact.

We look forward to hearing from you. Please let us know what you think about ‘Sustainable YU’ by contacting me at sustainability@yorku.ca.

Nicole Arsenault
Program Director, Sustainability

Featured in this issue of ‘Sustainable YU’

York University posts top scores in Times Higher Education Global Impact Ranking 2021
This year, York has placed 11th in Canada and 67th overall against 1,115 post-secondary institutions from 94 different countries. The THE Impact Rankings are the only global performance tables that assess universities against the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals. The ranking compares universities on research, stewardship, outreach and teaching across 17 categories. Read full story.

A community empowered to protect our planet
One of the core values of York University is sustainability. York’s continued dedication and leadership in this space is reflected in the document Building a Better Future: York University Academic Plan 2020-2025, which challenges students, faculty and staff to elevate their contributions to achieve the United Nations’ Sustainability Development Goals. Read full story.

New student-driven initiative offers a hub for students to take action on the SDGs
The SDG Student Hub, a new student-driven initiative launched in fall 2020 by York University’s Sustainability Office, is helping students of all disciplines learn about Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and take action to help achieve them. Read full story.

York University’s Custodial Services staff are deep into clean with environmentally safe products
Balancing being green and clean takes dedication and training. When you take into account an institution as large as York University and a global pandemic, the focus needs to be laser sharp. Read full story.

York University sustainability champion Mark Terry pens one-act play that will be staged on Zoom, April 23
Mark Terry, course director in the Faculty of Environmental and Urban Change and research associate with the Dahdeleh Institute for Global Health Research, has partnered with Whitby’s Beech Street Theatre Company to present a play on climate change. Titled, ‘The Four Seasons,’ it will premiere on Friday, April 23 at 7:30 p.m., for one night only, on Zoom. Read full story.

Lassonde’s BEST program students hack United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals
Students in the Bergeron Entrepreneurs in Science & Technology (BEST) program based at the Lassonde School of Engineering, took up the sustainability challenge during a recent hack-a-thon. Read full story.


Launched in April 2021, ‘Sustainable YU’ is produced out of the Office of the Vice-President Finance & Administration Research & Innovation in partnership with Communications & Public Affairs.

York University sustainability champion Mark Terry pens one-act play that will be staged on Zoom, April 23

Featured image for Mark Terry's play on climate change

Mark Terry
Mark Terry

York University alumnus Mark Terry, who is a decorated explorer, award-winning filmmaker, and contract faculty member and course director at York University’s Faculty of Environmental and Urban Change, has partnered with Whitby’s Beech Street Theatre Company and Earth Day organizers to present Canada’s only virtual theatre performance on Friday, April 23, to mark Earth Week.

The one-act play, The Four Seasons, was written by Terry for Beech Street Theatre as part of the theatre company’s 2021 Earth Week celebration. The play, which will be presented virtually over Zoom, begins at 7:30 pm ET. Beech Street Theatre has designated the admission as a “pay-what-you-can” theatre experience with all proceeds going to Terry’s research project the Youth Climate Report. Donations to the Youth Climate Report can be made through http://youthclimatereport.org/donations.

Poster for Mark Terry play YFile
The poster for Mark Terry’s play on climate change

“Many people have commented on changing weather patterns over the years,” said Terry, “but few have attributed these occurrences to climate change. We have never heard from the seasons themselves either, until now.”

The play will feature all four seasons as characters who share a series of monologues describing how they have changed over the years. The play was written specifically for the Zoom platform with one of the characters being the “Host”, a role that Terry will play himself. This is the first time Beech Street has performed online during the pandemic.

“I’m thrilled to have partnered with Earth Day,” said Beech Street President Michael Khashmanian. “Our commitment to raising awareness about environmental issues like climate change and its impacts gives us an international stage with this partnership.”

The Four Seasons will be performed one night only on Friday, April 23, at 7:30 pm. Those interested in attending this innovative live theatre production of The Four Seasons can join the Zoom at https://yorku.zoom.us/j/98212386679.

More about the Youth Climate Report

The Youth Climate Report showcases more than 525 videos from youth filmmakers geo-located on an interactive map, providing policymakers with a wealth of visible evidence of climate research, impacts and solutions from around the world in one easily accessible digital space.

Screenshot of the Youth Climate Report
The Youth Climate Report showcases more than 525 videos from youth filmmakers on all seven continents.

The groundbreaking film project not only gives young people a voice at United Nations climate summits, but offers the rare opportunity for them to directly contribute to policy creation on the global stage. Through their short documentaries, or “Mini-Docs,” youth bring attention to urgent environmental issues facing their respective communities and ecosystems, share climate research and solutions, and highlight youth-led climate action initiatives. For policymakers, the database provides important visual context that helps them gain a fuller understanding of climate issues during the two-week UN climate summits each year.

Earlier this year, the Youth Climate Report earned an Honourable Mention from the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) 2020 Action Awards. The project is the only Canadian program to be recognized this year out of a field of more than 1,000 nominated projects.

York University’s Custodial Services staff are deep into clean with environmentally safe products

Custodial satff wiping door handles Featured image for YFile
Custodial satff wiping door handles Featured image for YFile

Balancing being green and clean takes dedication and training. When you consider an institution as large as York University and layer on the complications of a global pandemic, the focus on both areas needs to be laser sharp.

York University’s custodial staff are sustainability champions who are dedicated, trained professionals committed to providing quality, efficient and environmentally sound services to ensure the safety and well-being of the University community. This focus on excellence and sustainability has provided the foundation for staff to meet the extraordinary challenges associated with a pandemic. They are following the guidelines and recommendations from the public health agencies, intensifying their sanitizing activities, including adding new equipment to their cleaning arsenal with EcoLogo-certified products.

Custodial staff collage of their cleaning activities for Sustainable YU special issue of YFile
Custodial Services staff showcase their commitment to sustainability and keeping the University community safe through the use of EcoLogo-certified cleaning products

Custodial Services uses VERT-2-GO, EcoLogo-certified products in support of the University’s values and commitment to sustainability. The raw materials used in these products are made from renewable sources. Materials are free of hazard warnings and can be used without personal protective equipment. They reduce toxicity to humans and aquatic life; they provide dual action cleaning power, which means cleaning surfaces while working in drains and pipes, and they also eliminate odours instead of simply masking them.

EcoLogo-certified products are environmentally conscious and Health Canada approved. In addition, Vert-2-Go EcoLogo SABER spray and disposable wipes offer a powerful disinfectant that kills germs and bacteria within five minutes. These products are used by custodial staff and other community members on classroom podiums/lecterns, tables and desk surfaces, phones and computer keys boards, customer-facing counters and plexi-glass shields, door handles, plates and glass, light switch plates, stairwell railings, elevator buttons and other high-touch, flat surfaces.

The custodial team also uses the Clorox Total 360 System – Clorox Total 360® Disinfectant Cleaner in its electrostatic disinfecting sprayers and misting equipment, including electric, battery and hand pump systems. Both the system and the disinfectant cleaner have been proven to kill the SARS-CoV-2 virus in two minutes. The electrostatic disinfecting sprayers and misting equipment are used in the common areas, seating, stairwell railings, walls and other high-capacity areas. The newly acquired cleaning equipment includes an ECO mode that allows for noise reduction during cleaning in those spaces that would be adversely affected by increased noise levels.

VERT-2-GO, EcoLogo certified products used at York University:

  • Everyday Disinfectant,
  • Saber Disinfectant spray and disposable wipes,
  • Unscented neutral floor cleaner,
  • OXY Low-Foam Heavy Duty cleaner,
  • All-Purpose Cleaner,
  • Washroom Cleaner,
  • Glass Cleaner,
  • Bio Drain Treatment and Bio Odour Control,
  • X-Pure Hand Sanitizer (currently being used in the refillable hand sanitizer dispensers) 72 per cent ethyl alcohol based,
  • Foam Hand Soap,
  • Paper products made from 100 per cent recycled content for both hand towels and toilet paper.

Lassonde’s BEST program students hack United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals

Bergeron Centre
Bergeron Centre

Lassonde’s Bergeron Entrepreneurs in Science & Technology (BEST) program hosted UNHack 2020 from Nov. 20 to 22, 2020. The event was a three-day experiential learning Design Sprint. More than 230 participants took part in the interactive online experience, tackling the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals and developing their problem-solving skills.

Andrew Maxwell
Andrew Maxwell

“UNHack offered students the chance to develop their changemaking skills by addressing, and in some cases implementing, solutions to local and global sustainability challenges. We are excited to unleash our student’s potential, especially when it can enhance sustainability at York University,” said Lassonde Professor Andrew Maxwell, Bergeron Chair in Technology Entrepreneurship.

“We designed UNHack to guide our students through a collaborative learning journey to empower them with the knowledge, skills, tools and techniques they need to tackle important grand challenges and to make positive changes and help transform lives” added Maedeh Sedaghat, program officer at BEST.

Winners of the UNHack shared $2,400 in prize money.

The winning teams are:

Team 49: Solar Stove (Sean Lett, Harpreet Janday, Charles Hamilton, Jack Koebel)
Project description: Low-cost portable and renewable electricity addressing UN SDG 11: Sustainable Cities and Communities

Team 49 worked to address the critical concern of smoky indoor stoves in third-world countries, using an innovative Fresnel lens technology.

Team 61: Virtual Poster Board (Kyle Rapinchuk, Rupayan Haldar, Muhammad Kermali, Muath Kaadan, Walid AlDari, Shane Bellenie)

Project description: A York University-sponsored challenge to address UN SDG 11: Sustainable Cities and Communities

Team 61 was inspired by York University’s challenge of wasted paper and unsightly poster boards on campus. Their solution included a novel use of technology with a sustainability element, recycling second hand computer monitors (that often go to landfill) to create a virtual poster.

Team 43: Solar Panel (Charanpreet Gharyal, Alex, Erdreyan Galera, Dwumah Anokye, Christin Mugisha)

Project description: Transformative solution for vehicles to address UN SDG 7: Affordable and Clean Energy

Team 43 came up with an idea to place thin film solar panels on the roofs of cars or transport vehicles which could be connected to solar batteries that could help power the vehicle for a longer distance or store energy for later use.

Team 21: Mental health for students during COVID-19 (Joshua Zuker, Karman Purba, Kamal Aulakh, Davyd ZInkiv, Mohammed Shaikh)

Project description: Machine learning to address UN SDG 3: Good Health and Well-being

Team 21 chose to focus on creating a safe environment that promotes the discussion of mental health among post-secondary students and provides resources through machine learning using data.

Team 11: Reducing restaurant food waste (Megan Gran, Milgo Nour, Yassin, Lin Han)

Project description: Innovative packaging system to tackle UN SDG 2: Zero Hunger

Team 11 developed an innovative packaging system that may allow restaurants to reduce food waste, coupled with an innovative business model, to ensure financial sustainability. This team was selected to represent York at the Toronto Hult prize competition.

“Working through the process of problem identification was really valuable. We learned about the process in class, but actually doing it made me realize how difficult but effective it can be,” said Charles Hamilton, a first-year engineering student.

The event was sponsored by Scotiabank, York University and SummerFresh, and involved many community partners from across the University who served as mentors, judges and participants. The expert judges for the event were Elliot Atkins, Susan Niczowski, Nicole Arsenault, Jon Kerr and Subashini Kangesan.