Grassland butterfly conservation and headstarting program

Grasslands are one of the most endangered habitat in North America. In Manitoba, over 90% has been lost in the last 100 years and with it a suite of prairie adapted species. The Poweshiek skipperling is one such species which in recent years has plummeted in abundance for unknown reasons. Less than 500 individuals remain in the wild and the grasslands of southeastern Manitoba represent one of the species’ last strongholds.

Knowledge mobilization: Local community engagement, sustainability and adaptive governance

Knowledge mobilization is a complex process aimed at generating and disseminating information and expertise. It relates to decision-making in a complex and uncertain environment and requires the development of multiple networks to integrate different institutions and steer their resources. Managing such dynamic social-ecological networks can be addressed as a matter of adaptive governance which integrates the processes of generating multi-level social learning and preserving community heritage.

The fixating effect of LCA during ideation in eco-design: a case study

Although life cycle assessment (LCA) is a robust eco-design tool, its capacity to inspire creative ideas among designers is unclear. LCA is often used as a portrait of a product’s environmental hotspots, which are then addressed as design compromises. This highly technical design method usually leads to incremental improvements of products, and appears to do little to foster radical innovation.

Modelling the use of landscape features by caribou to guide the restoration of mine sites

Central mountain populations of woodland caribou (Rangifer tarandus caribou) have been in decline due to logging, mining, and gas development within their range and are designated as Threatened under Schedule 1 of the Species at Risk Act. This project will develop a caribou habitat restoration model (CHRM) for the Quintette Mine located in British Columbia. The Quintette Mine once comprised of alpine ecosystems that supported caribou; however, caribou no longer use the areas altered by mining.

Can retaining wetlands in agro-ecosystems mitigate the effects of agricultural intensification on biodiversity?

Agricultural practises in the North American prairies have intensified in the last several decades to increase food production, resulting in the drainage of up to 70% of prairie wetlands in some areas. Not surprisingly agricultural intensification is associated with the loss of biodiversity. Our research aims to assess whether retaining wetlands in agro-ecosystems can mitigate the effects of agricultural intensification on biodiversity, by monitoring wetland-derived insects and the breeding success of birds that depend on wetland-derived insects as prey.

Clay Binding of Gravel Roads

Throughout much of northern and rural Canada roads are constructed of unpaved gravel aggregate. They are expensive to maintain, environmentally problematic and degrade quickly. We are developing a solution to this problem by using locally derived materials rich in reactive clays. With the addition of catalysts and polymeric agents, we cause the fine clay materials to bind the aggregate strongly. Simply put, we are taking advantage of and manipulating the natural properties of clays, and causing them to act like a cementing agent.

Evaluating the Societal Effects of Participatory Processes

Over the past 5 years, Suncor Energy has invested in the Energy Futures Lab, the Engineering Change Lab, the Getting to Maybe social innovation program, the Suncor Energy Foundation Gathering, and most recently, the Turtle Island Institute. All of these initiatives are designed to transform whole systems in rapidly changing environments in partnership with diverse groups of partners, particularly Indigenous communities. As Suncor is itself deeply embedded in the changing energy environment, these investments hold the potential to transform the funding organization alongside the system.

Community dynamics in restored salt marshes

Salt marshes are important coastal ecosystems because they provide many services to surrounding areas. Due to the high fertility of salt marsh soil, they have a long history of being converted to farmland in Maritime Canada. In recent years, there has been growing interest in restoring salt marshes to protect against coastal erosion, mitigate sea level rise, and provide increased habitat for birds, fish, etc.

Sustainability and energy independence for Indigenous communities in BC

Indigenous people, particularly on reserves, suffer from some of the worst housing conditions in Canada today. Inadequate housing contributes to mental and physical health problems, poor educational outcomes, family conflict, and outright homelessness. This research project will contribute to the housing solutions space through partnering with Cleantech Community Gateway and the T’Sou-ke First Nation to develop and model a sustainable, culturally appropriate prototype building and simulate its energy performance.

Green Cement Appraisal for Precast Concrete

This project seeks to appraise the use of three different blended cements, with 25 – 50% lower carbon footprint than commercial Portland cement, in masonry concrete applications. Carbonation will also be implemented as one of the curing scenarios, for an added potential increase in CO2 offset. Work will be carried out at the laboratory-scale first, and later validated in a real production setting at the partner’s site.