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Co-designing Methods for Campus Sustainability Projects

Earlier this year, ThinkFresh Group was able to assist the Sustainability Ontario Community Energy Co-Op (SOCEC) in their quest to encourage the development of more sustainable energy projects on university campuses. SOCEC has been working on a project with the University of Toronto for the last few years and wanted to share some of their challenges and successes with other campus sustainability groups, as well as convene a discussion on what are the best practices to get such projects going.

Working with SOCEC, we created a half-day design workshop that brought together key members of campus sustainability communities around Southern Ontario including students, administrators and sustainable energy professionals. The purpose was to jam around the issues that both help and hinder the implementation of sustainable energy projects on campuses.

Approximately 50 people attended the event which was hosted at MaRS in Toronto. The activities that we designed helped the group conduct foresight on what an ideal project looks like, then use this ideal project as the focus artifact to work though the barriers and opportunities present. We journey mapped out how such an ideal project would get to approval and implementation and then identified the key stakeholders and decision makers that would need to be a part of it. After this, we performed an empathy activity in order to better understand what would motivate these stakeholders and discover where there might be value alignment to move these projects forward. From this, the participants were able to identify different opportunities that could be leveraged to get a project going and ideated on different ways that the learnings from the day could be communicated to other campus sustainability groups.

The event ended with a keynote from Bernie McIntyre, senior manager of Corporate Sustainability at Toronto and Region Conservation who shared his own experiences implementing similar projects and lessons for the participants. Julia Zeeman, the Chair of the SOCEC Board closed out the event by announcing that all of the ideas and learnings would be shared via a “How-To” guide on campus sustainability projects to be released later in 2017.

Many thanks to the SOCEC team for this amazing experience & opportunity to help grow your capacity for environmental impact!

Also: See SOCEC’s post about this event: http://www.sustainabilityontario.ca/ontario-renewable-energy-blog/2017/6/3/integrating-sustainable-energy-projects

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