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Laurier alumni take local climate change initiative province-wide
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Climate change may be a global issue, but local solutions can offer hope. That was the idea that drove Laurier grads Mike Morrice (BBA/BSc ‘08) and Chris DePaul (BBA/BSc ‘08) to form Sustainable Waterloo Region, a non-profit organization that converts sustainability interest into action, in 2008.
Morrice is now taking that idea to the next level with a new non-profit called Sustainability CoLab, which will officially launch Jan. 16 in Toronto. The organization aims to share a local model of climate change action with communities across Ontario.
CoLab is launching following the success of Sustainable Waterloo Region, which was borne out of research projects Morrice and DePaul worked on at Laurier under the guidance of associate professor Barry Colbert. Morrice has served as Sustainable Waterloo Region’s executive director since its inception, while Colbert, who is also the director of Laurier’s P&G Centre for Business and Sustainability, chairs its board of directors. Having committed to reduce its carbon footprint by 20 per cent per square foot, Laurier is also a Bronze Pledging Partner in the organization’s flagship program, the Regional Carbon Initiative (RCI), which launched in 2009.
“My time at Laurier in so many ways sparked what would later become Sustainable Waterloo Region,” said Morrice who will be Sustainability CoLab’s executive director. “Profs like Joel Marcus and Barry Colbert, who mentored and coached; leaders like Steve Farlow and Ginny Dybenko who made connections and gave our small team access to meeting room space on campus; and alumni like Rick Endrulat and Diane Stanley-Horn who were among the organization’s first partners. Laurier was the incubator for this idea, for this movement.”
In addition to Morrice, the CoLab team will also feature Laurier alumna Priyanka Lloyd (MBA ’11), who will be the organization’s director of operations.
Sustainable Waterloo Region’s Regional Carbon Initiative works with organizations to set and achieve targets to reduce their carbon impact. RCI works with a growing number of organizations across Waterloo Region who have collectively committed to reducing their carbon emissions by 45,000 tonnes over the next 10 years — the equivalent of taking 10,000 cars off the road annually. The more than 60 RCI members represent over 13 per cent of Waterloo Region’s workforce and cover 16 million square feet of commercial, institutional and manufacturing space.
In response to interest from over a dozen communities in Ontario alone in replicating the early success seen in Waterloo Region, CoLab will provide the key support services for communities to launch, grow and accelerate their own business-focused, greenhouse gas (GHG) target-setting programs. Rather than franchising the RCI, CoLab will share the core approaches of the model and help each community to locally adapt and innovate around them.
“Since launching the RCI, we’ve been approached by communities across North America and as far away as the Ukraine to share the model. After more than two years of development, we’re thrilled to finally be able to give this the focus it deserves through Sustainability CoLab,” said Morrice. “Our goal is to have eight Ontario communities in the CoLab Network by 2015. We’re incredibly excited by the potential benefit of larger-scale climate change action.”
Sustainability CoLab’s official launch event is Jan. 16 in Toronto. For more details or to register to attend, click here. Registration is complimentary but required.