District Secondary Students Get Lessons on Sustainability at CIRS/UBC

Over 50 Students and staff from 12 secondary schools across Vancouver attended a Sustainability Workshop on April 13 at the Centre for Interactive Research on Sustainability (CIRS), at the University of British Columbia. The students learned from UBC researchers about cutting-edge technologies and research and to see real-life applications of sustainability in action.

"Sustainability is an issue that is interconnected with the economy, environment, social justice and policy development", says Tessica Truong one of the secondary school students from the District who attended the workshop."Workshop organizers say the workshop was a huge success.

"The sustainability workshop was the first of its kind, anywhere, where secondary school students got to meet with and learn from university researchers about landscape visualization, urban development, renewable energy technologies and systems and green building design, all within the context of sustainability, in the greenest building on this continent", said Kirthi Roberts, the Manager for Energy & Climate Action for the Vancouver Board of Education.

The workshop included presentations from Alberto Cayuela the Associate Director of the UBC Sustainability Initiative (USI) and Kshamta Hunter the Sustainability Student Advisor who spoke about the University Sustainability Initiative and recent developments on sustainability curriculum at UBC. Professor Ron Kellet and doctoral candidate Jon Salter demonstrated cutting edge technologies in landscape visualization that can be used to model urban development for the 

CIRS Presentation

purpose of understanding transportation mode-splits, climate change impacts and other broader sustainability issues.

At the wrap-up session Roberts had the students work in groups to discuss the main insights and lessons learned and how they would like to apply this knowledge back in their schools. Students noted that they felt a renewed sense of hope, they liked the ideas of 'regenerative buildings' and the notion of 'building inhabitants' vs. 'building occupants', and moving from being 'less bad' to 'net positive'. While they say they were inspired to act, students also remarked that their 'bottom-up' actions and interest in sustainability need to be matched with support from the top by the appropriate governance/management structures. The students also enjoyed the self-guided tour which exposed them to various features and systems in the building that make it the greenest building in North America.

The Sustainability Workshop was a result of a joint collaboration between the Vancouver Board of Education (VBE) and the Centre for Interactive Research on Sustainability (CIRS) at the University of British Columbia.

Title photograph courtesy of Ann Campbell

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