Home > Sustainability > News & Events > News Archive

News Archive

Sustainability: More Initiatives and News – 2016 to 2021

Trinity College Sustainable Food Systems Research Group

The Trinity Sustainable Food Systems Research Group (SFSRG) is a passionate and dedicated group of students and faculty focused on expanding Trinity’s urban agriculture network. SFSRG work-study, ROP, and internship students conduct multidisciplinary research projects around sustainable growing, food policy, and urban agriculture, using Trinity’s recently renovated growing spaces on the Munk North rooftop and the St. Hilda’s College backyard.

Click here to learn more about SFSRG’s goals, research and projects, and the people involved.

In the News | Prof. Stephen Scharper - media interviews & expert commentary: Apr. to Dec. 2021

Sustainable Food Systems Research Group - View Talk on Urban Agriculture & Food Justice: May 27, 2021

Trinity’s Prof. Michael Kessler and students talk about the College’s Sustainable Food Systems Research Group at Reunion 2021: view recording – Urban Agriculture & Food Justice (YouTube).

New UTM Stephen Bede Scharper Fellowship: December 21, 2020

Stephen Bede Scharper Fellowship, endowed by UTM donors Tracy Dalglish (Trinity alum) & Michael Medline, honours professor’s mentorship and leadership. Prof. Scharper is Trinity’s Director of Sustainability.

Stephen Bede Scharper Fellowship: Offered annually to a first-year Master of Science in Sustainability Management student with a clear commitment to global sustainability, social and environmental justice and the betterment of humanity.

View Our Climate Emergency and COVID-19: Crises of the Spirit - Panel Discussion: December 8, 2020

View “Our Climate Emergency and COVID-19: Crises of the Spirit” with Professors Stephen Scharper and Joy Fitzgibbon, alumna Sarah Levy and moderator Maureen Simpson.


In this webinar (held December 8, 2020) environmental studies professor and newly appointed Director of the Trinity Integrated Sustainability Initiative, Stephen Bede Scharper, was in dialogue with Associate Director, Margaret MacMillan Trinity One Program, Joy Fitzgibbon, and Trinity Alumna Sarah Levy.

Event details:
Al Gore, famed environmentalist and former U.S. Vice President, noted in his 1992 book, Earth in the Balance, that the environmental crisis is at root a “spiritual” crisis. He acknowledged the dangers of talking about spirituality in relationship to environmental policy, but asked what other word speaks to our interconnection with nature, society, our cultural destiny, and our larger cosmological context?

This webinar will examine our climate change emergency amidst our current global pandemic. It will explore these twin crises not only as a challenge to policy, economic direction and political choices, but also as a perturbing demand to probe the ontological and spiritual underpinnings of our unsustainable “business as usual” approach. It will also speculate on the spiritual resources needed to respond with creativity, courage, alacrity, and resilience.

Trinity Appoints Director & Assistant Director of Sustainability: October 8, 2020

Trinity College is pleased to announce the inaugural leadership of its Integrated Sustainability Initiative. Stephen Scharper will serve as Director of Sustainability and Nicole Spiegelaar will serve as the Assistant Director. In these roles, they will develop and support the ambitious Initiative that is designed to integrate the principles of sustainability into the daily life at the College – from academic programs and co-curricular programming to the student experience.

In October 2019, thanks to a very generous $10 million gift by Trinity alumnus Brian Lawson and U of T alumna Joannah Lawson, the College launched the Integrated Sustainability Initiative. In addition to integrating sustainability into all facets of the College, the Initiative will transform the built environment through the College’s new building, the Lawson Centre for Sustainability, scheduled to open in 2024.  The Lawsons’ vision and support for sustainability will enable Trinity College to build upon its longstanding commitment to environmental leadership by creating a new model in which students both ‘live and learn’ sustainability.

“The Integrated Sustainability Initiative will have a profound impact on the student experience at Trinity College and will equip students with the tools to address one of the globe’s most pressing challenges,” said Professor Mayo Moran, Provost and Vice-Chancellor of Trinity College. “We are thrilled to have Stephen Scharper and Nicole Spiegelaar take on these important new roles at Trinity. Their multi-disciplinary approach and focus on the student experience will enable us to weave sustainability principles into all facets of life at the College, creating a dynamic ‘living lab’ at Trinity.”

Click here to read the full announcement.

In the News | Prof. Stephen Scharper - media interviews & expert commentary: Apr. to Dec. 2020

Trinity Student Researchers Grow the College's Sustainability Knowledge: July 31, 2020

Angela Gong and Maddie Frechette

Angela Gong & Maddie Frechette are part of Trinity’s Sustainable Food Systems Research Group.

Better nutrition in the city. Cleaner food for the future. This summer’s crop of young researchers in Trinity’s Sustainable Food Systems Research Group (SFSRG) are not only contributing to a better food supply system for Toronto, but sowing the seeds of impactful careers to come.

Prof. Michael Kessler, Director and Raymond Pryke Chair in the Margaret MacMillan Trinity One Program, launched the research group in summer 2019 thanks to a generous donor. Following their first year, students from the Trinity One program enrich their studies via supervised individual research projects, work-study placements in campus gardens, and summer internships with partner organizations.

“The gift allowed us to prioritize promising younger students,” says Kessler. “It’s hard for undergraduates to gain access to meaningful research opportunities before their fourth year. Our goal was to connect them with these opportunities right away, and let them demonstrate that they can contribute even after first year.”

While the pandemic nixed student-led garden work this year for the budding program, Kessler and colleague Prof. Jayeeta Sharma found two projects that could be done remotely as part of Sharma’s U of T-funded COVID-19 research effort, Feeding the City: Pandemic and Beyond.

Angela Gong, who is entering her third year at Trinity, comes from a family who plants a 2,000-square foot garden through Fresh City Farms. She saw COVID-19’s impact first hand as markets couldn’t open until late June. Gong’s summer survey of other small growers assessed Toronto’s capacity for community gardens: How much could Toronto expand allotments? How to maximize their productivity?

“The multidisciplinary research that I have undertaken with SFSRG—working with both people and plants—has definitely shaped how I will approach science in my future career,” she says.

Meanwhile, soon-to-be-second-year student Maddie Frechette evaluated the sustainability of Toronto’s farm operations, and whether public policy nurtures or withers such systems. She found that short-term pandemic support programs were frustratingly bureaucratic, but farmers’ organizations hunger for long-term thinking, including policies that reward sustainable growing.

“This research has furthered my interest in the intersection of law and environmentalism,” she says. “I plan to work towards creating a more resilient food future in Canada.”

Both projects have created valuable research related to the current pandemic, and will also support Trinity’s ambitious plans for the new Lawson Centre for Sustainability building, and a revitalized campus rooted in sustainable practices.

“Angela’s work will help inform our planned urban agriculture operation,” says Kessler. “We’re learning which plants thrive in the city, and what’s the best bang for your buck in terms of nutrients. Meanwhile, Maddie’s research is growing our knowledge base around food policy. These student reports will go into a local repository at Trinity and future students will be able to take up related research questions this fall.

“What’s really rewarding,” he adds, “is seeing students grow and develop their research skills. I’m so excited that this is going to continue for the next several years and that this project has become an integral part of making the College into a hub of undergraduate research related to sustainability.”

Published in Trinity magazine July 31, 2020

Trinity College Launches Integrated Sustainability Initiative: October 17, 2019

Trinity received $10 million from Brian ’82 and Joannah Lawson to support an ambitious initiative designed to integrate sustainability across the College.

Brian and Joannah Lawson in the Quad news

Brian and Joannah Lawson’s visionary support for sustainability will shape a sustainable, healthier future for the entire Trinity community

TORONTO, Canada – October 17, 2019

Trinity College has received $10 million to support an ambitious initiative designed to integrate sustainability across the College, from an innovative new building to research and classroom opportunities to the creation of food. The donation comes from Trinity alumnus Brian Lawson ’82 and Joannah Lawson (Master of Industrial Relations ’89, U of T). The Lawsons’ generous gift is the largest single donation in Trinity College’s 168-year history.

Joannah, a nutrition consultant who focuses on prevention of chronic disease through nutritional change at organization and community levels, and Brian, Managing Partner and Chief Financial Officer of Brookfield Asset Management, are committed to supporting food systems that promote physical and mental health and are environmentally sustainable.

“There is growing science showing a strong connection between nutrition and physical as well as mental health,” said Joannah Lawson. “Nutrient-empty foods also take a heavy toll on the planet. Supporting Trinity students, who go on to be thought-leaders and decision-makers in their chosen fields, with a healthy living environment and an understanding of sustainability practices will have a positive impact on this and future generations.”

When Trinity College, with its long history of being a sustainability leader on campus, realized it had to add new space to its historic campus, it saw a once-in-a-generation opportunity. Over the past decade, faculty, students, staff and alumni have come together to support innovative sustainability projects including a rooftop garden at St. Hilda’s, urban beehives on Henderson Tower, geothermal heating in the new Archives, solar panels, and a rainwater reclamation system. However, the new building made it possible to take this commitment to sustainability to a whole new level.

“The College wanted to create a space that was sustainable, human-scaled and intelligent, that embodied our values and supported the flourishing of the humans within it and the world around it. This inspired us to further examine all that we do through the lens of sustainability, asking ourselves what more we can do to respond to this generation’s greatest challenge,” said Trinity College Provost Mayo Moran. “By integrating principles of sustainability into daily life at Trinity—from the urban farming initiative to classroom and research opportunities to the broader student experience—the College aims to make a positive difference and show what is possible.”

The new space is the centrepiece of the Integrated Sustainability Initiative. The first significant space added to the College in many decades, it aims to be a leader in sustainable, human-scaled design. Trinity’s new initiative will do more than just promote sustainability in the built environment—it will connect it directly to the student experience through innovations such as the unique “Farm to Table” program. A creative urban farming initiative, this program will offer students the chance to participate directly in the creation of their food as well as to conduct research on those practices right at the College. A community kitchen will serve as a hub for teaching and learning about sustainable food practices and will provide an important community gathering space. But Trinity’s sustainability ambitions go beyond the building. As part of the Initiative, fluency in sustainability will be integrated into academic programs and students will be able to take advantage of new learning opportunities focused on sustainability both inside the classroom and through research and internships. A new Director of Sustainability will support these activities and will oversee the development of academic and co-curricular sustainability programming including internships and community outreach.

Trinity College is not alone in its commitment to sustainability. It is also a key priority for the University of Toronto as a whole and Trinity is working with the Faculty of Arts and Science and its School of the Environment to develop various elements of the Initiative. “Introducing ways in which students can have personal impact and feel connected to important issues such as climate change and the environment is critically important,” said Melanie Woodin, Dean of the Faculty of Arts and Science. “We are delighted to partner with Trinity College on this exciting initiative and are grateful for the generous support of the Lawsons.”

Sustainability became part of the College’s curriculum in 2018, with the launch of the Butterfield Environment & Sustainability Stream in the Margaret MacMillan Trinity One Program. The new Trinity One stream examines the most challenging issues surrounding human beings, the planet and our future together. It is the only program at U of T that allows first-year students to look at sustainability issues from both arts and sciences perspectives.

“We have witnessed first-hand how committed the leadership team and the students at Trinity are to sustainability,” said Brian Lawson. “We knew that Trinity would be innovative in moving forward, and when the opportunity arose we strongly wanted to support this vital initiative.”

“Universities have a crucial role to play in helping meet the global challenge of sustainability,” said University of Toronto President Meric Gertler. “Joannah and Brian have been prominent champions of our efforts at U of T, through their generous philanthropy and their wise counsel. This visionary gift builds on their remarkable legacy.”

Said Provost Moran, “As the Trinity community develops plans for a new building on campus, we are so fortunate to have visionary alumni like Brian and Joannah Lawson, who share our values and make it possible for us to transform the lives of Trinity students by realizing our desire to make a difference.”

Published in Trinity magazine October 17, 2019

Prize-Winning Undergraduate Research in Sustainability: September 25, 2019

Students on Trinity's Rooftop Garden

Read the article via U of T News: Prize-winning undergraduate research takes stock of U of T’s sustainability-related courses, groups and projects

Research involves Trinity’s Nathan Postma, Emily Shaw & Danielle Pal and Fellow Prof. John Robinson.

Trinity Student Researchers Build Sustainability Course Inventory: September 9, 2019

Trinity's Nathan Postma, Emily Shaw and Danielle Pal are part of the 2018 ESE Research Team

As undergraduate students, Trinity’s Nathan Postma, Emily Shaw and Danielle Pal developed the first sustainability course inventory at U of T. Read the article via Faculty of Arts & Science News: Undergrad researchers build sustainability course inventory — and take home international award

Trinity's Rooftop Garden: July 26, 2019

Volunteers planting seeds on the Trinity's rooftop garden

Trinity’s Urban Agriculture Project continues. This summer, the garden has bloomed into 80 containers on the rooftop of one of the College’s buildings!

Zucchini harvested from Trinity's rooftop gardenIt started as a 20-container garden on the rooftop of one of Trinity College’s building – Munk North, growing vegetables, greens and pollinator friendly flowers. This summer, the garden has bloomed into 80 containers thanks to the help of donors, and the project incorporates some pilot sustainability adaptations to the space, including rainwater catchers and organic fertilizers.

Now the garden host tomatoes, leafy greens, herbs, flowers, beans, squash, and zucchinis, all cared for by a team of Trinity students,  alumni and summer research interns from the Butterfield Environment & Sustainability stream of the Margaret MacMillan Trinity One Program, who are running a variety of studies and projects. There are even some edible oddities (Google Cucuamelons!).

Further, another term of Professor John Robinson’s ENV461 has passed, and an additional project was designed by a group of students: a rainwater harvesting system. Their final report (pdf) was used as a basis for a successful funding proposal to the Student Capital Campaign Committee (the body funds long-term projects that generate permanent gains for the college community).

Learn how Trinity’s urban agriculture pilot project began in the summer of 2018: Building a Green Legacy

Learn more about how Trinity is Cultivating Passion, read Trinity Magazine and discover how like-minded alumni, students, staff and faculty are propagating sustainability at the College.

Cultivating Passion: Sustainability at Trinity: July 2019
Students in the Butterfield Environment & Sustainability Stream Take Learning into the Field: March 28, 2019

Trinity One Students walk across the frozen field at New Farm

Students in the Butterfield Environment & Sustainability stream of the Margaret MacMillan Trinity One Program take classroom learning into the field. At The New Farm, they learned about soil science, sustainable food systems and the environmental impact of agricultural practice.

On a sunny but chilly Saturday in March, students and faculty from the Butterfield Environment & Sustainability stream of the Margaret MacMillan Trinity One Program made their way two-hours north of Toronto to The New Farm near Creemore.

“The goal of the excursion was to provide students an engaging, real-life context in which to learn about soil science, sustainable food systems and the environmental impact of agricultural practices,” said Instructor Nicole Spiegelaar, who teaches the Trinity One Environmental Science & Pathways to Sustainability course (TRN141Y). “As with all of our outdoor field trips, we discuss the natural environment while experiencing the natural environment.”

Class trips such as this take learning into the field, introducing students to various components of sustainability that they learned over the course of the academic year. Along with a walking tour of The New Farm, which is a certified organic family farm, students learned about regenerative agricultural practices by the farm’s owners Brent Preston and Gillian Files.

Trinity One Students learn about sustainable agriculture at New FarmStudents were exposed to The New Farm’s solutions to environmental and agro-ecological challenges related to food production such as conservation, land restoration, sustainable agriculture, climate change, health and socioeconomic equity. The conversations centred on a shared a vision of food system practices that can improve our relationship with the environment and each other.

“These experiences are designed to inspire students to discuss innovative solutions in their own research proposal assignment on a current environmental sustainability issue,” said Spiegelaar, noting that during the academic year, the class also went on a series of field trips related to conservation, biodiversity and food systems – to the Koffler Scientific Reserve, local rooftop and bee gardens, and the UTSC permaculture site.

This field trip capped off a tremendously successful first year for the inaugural class enrolled in the new Butterfield Environment & Sustainability stream. The new stream takes an interdisciplinary approach that combines both the sciences and the arts, and both theoretical and practical perspectives on environmental sustainability. Students take two year-long Trinity One seminars: TRN141Y Environmental Science & Pathways to Sustainability introduces students to fundamental issues in environmental science with a multi-disciplinary focus on human impacts on physical and biological systems, and on identifying pathways to sustainability; while TRN140Y Ethics, Humans & Nature introduces students to ethical issues arising from the way humans interact with nature.

“The Trinity One Program attracts bright students who want to challenge themselves by diving into research-focused seminars right away in their first year of university,” said Prof. Michael Kessler, Raymond Pryke Chair and Director of the Trinity One program. “The Butterfield stream offers unique opportunities for students to enhance their classroom learning by seeing how academic research informs the world around us. Just as important, though, is how taking the time to connect with our world in meaningful ways can be a driver for future research into how to make things better for the planet and for society.”

The Margaret MacMillan Trinity One Program is accepting applications for the 2019-2020 academic year. Learn more at https://www.trinity.utoronto.ca/trinityone.

Click here to view more photos from the field trip on March 23 to The New Farm

Trinity Launches Meatless Monday Lunches: January 14, 2019

Trinity joins the growing list of organizations participating in Meatless Monday. Strachan Hall serves Meatless Monday Lunches on a weekly basis, beginning Monday, January 14!

Student is served a lunch plate at Meatless Monday Lunches at Strachan HallThe goal of our initiative is to come together as an organization to raise awareness of the impact of our food choices and to encourage healthier and more sustainable eating by trying plant-based, one meal per week.

Why Meatless Mondays?

During the fall 2018 semester, several Trinity students brought forward the idea of starting a Meatless Monday lunch service. After discussion at the Student Food Advisory Committee, we consulted students in the Food Survey on how to successfully implement Meatless Mondays lunch service. Survey respondents indicated that:

  • Meatless Mondays lunch service should be utilized as an opportunity to trial high-quality vegetarian and vegan meals;
  • A variety of vegetarian and vegan proteins should be available;
  • Trinity should continue to offer limited meat options during lunch.

Trinity’s Meatless Monday Lunch initiative aims to help empower not only students, but the larger Trinity community, and to reflect our commitment to corporate social responsibility by helping achieve a kinder, cleaner, and healthier world.

One of Trinity’s strengths lies in the diversity of the student population and this extends to diversity of opinion as well. Adhering to our vision and commitment to health and well-being, changes to the Strachan menu will be made based on overall trends in comments and ratings as we look to satisfy the majority of students. Changes will also be aligned with the overall direction of offering healthier, heartier, and more wholesome food options. Responding to student feedback from the Food Survey, during Meatless Monday lunches there will be a limited amount of animal-based proteins on the salad bar. We are currently in the process of analyzing the survey data and will be consulting with the Student Food Advisory Committee regarding implementing your feedback.

If you have questions or comments please feel free to reach out to Ramata Tarawally, Associate Director, Community Wellness at rtarawally@trinity.utoronto.ca.

Learn more about Meatless Mondays

Meatless Monday was initiated as a measure for saving resources during World War I and II. It was re-introduced in 2003 by the Monday Campaigns and Johns Hopkins School of Public Health as a health initiative, geared towards reducing our society’s over consumption of meat by 15% – equivalent to one day per week.

As Canadians, our per capita meat consumption is among the highest in the world. Trying plant-based eating, even once per week, can reduce our risk of preventable health conditions including cardiovascular disease, diabetes, and obesity. The Canadian Cancer Society also recommends lowering our intake of meat, noting that a diet high in red and processed meat has been linked to an increased risk of colorectal cancer.

For more information: https://www.meatlessmonday.com/about-us/history/

The Butterfield Environment & Sustainability Stream Welcomes First Cohort of Students: September 2018

In September 2018, we welcomed the first cohort of students to the new Butterfield Environment & Sustainability stream of the Margaret MacMillan Trinity One Program. “Globally relevant institutions such as Trinity College and the University of Toronto have a vital role to play in educating future leaders about the importance of sustainability and the environment. With this new stream Trinity, in partnership with the University of Toronto’s School of the Environment, is stepping into that leadership role. It will also be the only program at the University that allows first-year students to look at environmental issues from both arts and sciences perspectives,” said Prof. Mayo Moran, Provost and Vice-Chancellor of Trinity College.

The Butterfield Environment & Sustainability stream will use an interdisciplinary approach that combines both the sciences and the arts. Students will learn how to think about the complexities of environmental sustainability from both theoretical and practical perspectives. Learn more about the Environment & Sustainability stream.

The new stream has had broader effects across academic programming: with it came co-curricular programming on issues of sustainability for all Trinity One students, and extra-curricular opportunities such as sustainability-focused internships for both first- and upper-year students.

A Field Trip to the Koffler Scientific Reserve: September 19, 2018

Students in the Butterfield Environment & Sustainability Stream of the Margaret MacMillan Trinity One program experience first-hand the work of Conservation Biologists.

Trinity One students enter the water at the Koffler Scientific Reserve

During a field trip to U of T’s Koffler Scientific Reserve (KSR), students in the Butterfield Environment & Sustainability Stream of the Margaret MacMillan Trinity One program had the opportunity to experience first-hand the work of a Conservation Biologist. As part of the TRN141 – Pathways to Sustainability course, students helped initiate the first turtle mark-and-recapture study at KSR. Located north of Toronto in the Oak Ridges Moraine, the Koffler Scientific Reserve is recognized for its cutting-edge research and education in biodiversity, ecology, and conservation biology.

Trinity One Student holds a Salamander at the Koffler Scientific Reserve

With the help of Patrick Moldowan, a herpetologist, avid naturalist and PhD candidate at U of T, students learned how reptile and amphibian populations in southern Ontario are threatened by human development, especially highways.

While at KSR, students were taught how to safely handle and rescue turtles, as well as how take measurements, identify local turtle species and note scientific observations in the field. During paddles on the ponds, Patrick Moldowan discussed the intersections of biodiversity conservation with law, economics, genetics and human health. Students also had hands-on experience identifying frogs, newts and aquatic insects.

The Butterfield Environment & Sustainability Stream will continue to allow our students to monitor the turtles that call KSR home year-after-year, helping us learn more about how to protect these valuable creatures.

Visit our Facebook page to see more photos from our students’ trip to the Koffler Scientific Reserve.

A Sustainable Ride: Bike Recycling Program Launched at Trinity: June 7, 2018

Two bicycles from Trinity's Bicycle Recycling Program in the Trinity Quad

Each year, dozens of bicycles are abandoned across the Trinity campus. Rather than let them be destroyed by rust or thieves, Prof. Michael Kessler, Raymond Pryke Chair of the Margaret MacMillan Trinity One Program, is working with a dedicated group of Trinity students to change that.

Repairing a Bicycle for Trinity's Bicycle Recycling ProgramWith help from Bikechain, a not-for-profit cycling organization based out of U of T, Prof. Kessler and the students are learning how to recycle old parts and get these bikes back into ridable condition. It’s a project that brings together two of Trinity’s ongoing values and commitments: responsible resource management, and being a force for good in our local community.

Trinity has long pursued a path of environmental action, implementing projects like the Gerald Larkin Building solar panels, urban beehives on Henderson Tower, geothermal heating in the new Archives and a storm water reclamation system, among others. This fall, Trinity’s Margaret MacMillan Trinity One Program will also enroll its first cohort of students in the Butterfield Environment & Sustainability Stream, providing an academic complement to sustainability initiatives across the campus. The focus of this new stream, which examines the most challenging issues surrounding the environment and sustainability, prompted Prof. Kessler and Trinity students to search for an initiative that would have an immediate, environmental impact. The result was the launch of this new bike recycling program. With the help of Tim Connelly, Trinity’s Director of Facility Services and members of the facilities team, the abandoned bicycles were safely removed from the grounds and stored in St. Hilda’s College.

“Our eventual goal is to make these bikes available for incoming Trinity students who are newcomers to downtown Toronto. Along with environmental and health benefits, bicycling provides a great way to see the city,” Prof. Kessler says.

With #BikeMonthTO celebrations continuing across the city, Trinity’s recycling program will not only put more bikes on the road, but also provide a more sustainable transit option for our community members.

Students sitting on bicycles from Trinity's Bicycle Recycling Program“The city of Toronto is in the midst of a traffic and transit crunch and Trinity is excited to help make it easier for students to get around in an environmentally friendly manner,” Prof. Kessler says. A Trinity bike-share pilot will be put in place to help students take advantage of all Toronto has to offer.

The program has also found a permanent home for three of the refurbished bikes. The Syrian family Trinity sponsored recently received the very first of these bicycles to help them explore their new city.

The program is currently accepting bike donations. If you have an unused bike you would like to give to the project, please contact Prof. Michael Kessler at mkessler@trinity.utoronto.ca.

Trinity's Urban Agriculture Pilot Project: May 31, 2018

Trinity students and Assistant Provost Dr. Jonathan Steels receive Chartwells Campus Project prize

Trinity students and Assistant Provost Dr. Jonathan Steels receive Chartwells Campus Project prize

An exciting new project is slated to begin this summer at Trinity. Building on the College’s leadership in sustainable practices, an urban agriculture container garden will be created on the rooftop of one of buildings on the Trinity campus: North House of the Munk School of Global Affairs.

Trinity has long pursued a path of environmental action, implementing projects like the Gerald Larkin Building solar panels, urban beehives on Henderson Tower, geothermal heating in the new Archives and a storm water reclamation system, as well as consistently reducing energy consumption. Trinity’s Margaret MacMillan Trinity One Program will also enroll its first cohort of students in the Butterfield Environment & Sustainability Stream this fall, providing students with the opportunity to gain early exposure to environmental studies.

In keeping with this legacy, the new pilot project will not only reduce Trinity’s carbon footprint through the local production of food, but will also provide members of the Trinity community meaningful engagement with nature.

Using auto-irrigated pots, plants like tomatoes, zucchini, eggplant, herbs and squash, as well as flowers to attract pollinators, will be grown as part of the pilot. Planters will be placed on a thin protective layer, directly upon the flat, walled, southern exposure rooftop.

The idea for a rooftop urban agriculture project was developed in Prof. John Robinson’s 4th year course ENV461: U of T as a Living Lab of Sustainability. Prof. Robinson is U of T’s Presidential Advisor on the Environment, Climate Change, and Sustainability and an Associate of the College. As part of the course, Trinity students Emily Shaw, Nathan Postma and Emily Neeson, together with their peers, submitted a proposal for this green roof to Assistant Provost Dr. Jonathan Steels. With the support of Dr. Steels, the students also applied for and won a $5,000 Chartwells Campus Project award to support sustainable practices in food service through an urban agriculture pilot. Since 2014, Chartwells has supported university and college students to develop innovative concepts to address environmental and social changes.

Tomatoes grown from St Hilda's College gardenWith this seed funding and the extensive research conducted by our students, the urban agriculture pilot was able to move forward. This pilot builds on the success of an initiative by Trinity student Mbonella Phiri-Nkomo, who grew several pots of tomatoes and peppers on the St. Hilda’s roof last summer.

Recognizing the many environmental benefits that green roofs offer, the City of Toronto created a bylaw mandating green roofs be part of all new building developments. While many green roofs consist of grasses, the number of urban agriculture projects, similar to the one planned at Trinity, has been steadily increasing across the GTA in recent years. Trinity’s new pilot will also serve to test the feasibility of urban agriculture for future expansion to existing and potential new roof spaces at the College.

Thanks to the efforts of our students, alumni, staff, faculty and the Provost’s Environmental Protection Committee, Trinity continues to move towards a more sustainable tomorrow.

Our Garden is Growing: July 26, 2018

Thanks to a dedicated group of students, Trinity’s Urban Agriculture Pilot Project is thriving! The tomatoes are ripening, the cucumber and zucchini plants blossoming, and there has already been a first harvest of lettuce. Here’s a look at our growing garden!

Cucumbers plant from the Trinity garden Nathan Postma with a garden planter

Trinity Alum Nathan Postma on the New Margaret MacMillan Trinity One Stream: May 15, 2018

Nathan Postma

Trinity One Blog: Nathan Postma shares his thoughts about our new Butterfield Environment & Sustainability stream and universities’ role concerning climate change and sustainability. Nathan is a 4th year Trinity College student studying Environmental Studies and Anthropology.

Trinity College Launches New Butterfield Environment & Sustainability Stream: February 1, 2018

Trinity College Receives $1.25 Million to Launch the Butterfield Environment & Sustainability Stream in the Margaret MacMillan Trinity One Program

Trinity College alumni George ’61 and Martha ’63 Butterfield have generously donated $1.25 million to the College to establish the new Butterfield Environment & Sustainability Stream in the Margaret MacMillan Trinity One Program.

“Globally relevant institutions such as Trinity College and the University of Toronto have a vital role to play in educating future leaders about the importance of sustainability and the environment. With this new stream Trinity, in partnership with the University of Toronto’s School of the Environment, is stepping into that leadership role. It will also be the only program at the University that allows first-year students to look at environmental issues from both arts and sciences perspectives,” said Prof. Mayo Moran, Provost and Vice-Chancellor of Trinity College. “Trinity is so very fortunate to have the commitment and generosity of alumni like George and Martha Butterfield to make this partnership a reality.”

The new Butterfield Environment & Sustainability Stream will examine the most challenging issues surrounding the environment and sustainability. Students will learn how to think about the complexities of environmental sustainability from both theoretical and scientific perspectives. Students will study the ethical issues arising from the way humans interact with nature, the human impacts on physical and biological systems, and identify pathways to sustainability. An exciting complement to the current interdisciplinary Trinity One Program, the inaugural cohort of first-year students will be enrolled in the stream in September 2018.

Martha and George Butterfields stand infront of a stone structure

Martha and George Butterfield

George and Martha Butterfield, founders of Butterfield & Robinson, a world leader in luxury active travel, have a deep commitment to the environment, spanning more than 50 years. Both have been integral in a number of sustainable projects in Toronto and at Trinity College.

“It was important to George and me that our gift help to educate students on the issues and challenges of environmental stewardship and give them the tools to see the issues from a variety of perspectives,” Martha Butterfield said. “Environmental issues are complex by nature. We saw the Trinity One Program as the perfect fit for a multi-faceted approach to the issues.”

The Margaret MacMillan Trinity One Program was established in 2005 to offer discussion-based seminar courses to first-year students in the Faculty of Arts & Science at the University of Toronto. The program provides students the opportunity to explore major issues and ideas pertaining to human life and world affairs, while in a small-group environment conducive to deep discussion, interaction and mentorship with faculty through classroom learning and co-curricular programs. The small community also allows students to get to know their peers and study with Trinity’s exceptional faculty.

“The Trinity One Program has, from the very beginning, adopted an interdisciplinary approach to the most pressing social issues facing human beings. Environmental problems have increasingly become a common thread in our various streams. Creating a new stream dedicated to the study of the environment is a natural progression and it will absolutely strengthen the existing complement,” said Prof. Michael Kessler, Director and Raymond Pryke Chair in the Margaret MacMillan Trinity One Program. “As with all of our offerings in Trinity One, the new stream will focus on collaborative learning through guided discussion. We look at the best arguments for all points of view and try to leave no stone unturned. By using this method, students acquire advanced skills in their first year, and this allows them to hit the ground running as they move into their majors and specialist programs.”

The Butterfield Environment & Sustainability Stream will further enrich the Trinity One Program, which includes the following streams: International Relations; Ethics, Society & Law; Policy, Philosophy & Economics; Anne Steacy Biomedical Health; and Anne Steacy Medicine & Global Health.

This is also the first time a stream has been developed in collaboration with a University partner. Prof. Michael Ratcliffe, Trinity’s Dean of Arts and Vice-Provost, said the collaboration with the School of the Environment adds value to both institutions. “When one looks at the outcomes for interdepartmental collaboration, the benefits are clear. This partnership will give our Trinity One students access to even more resources at the University while building academic relationships and networks that will benefit them for years to come,” Prof. Ratcliffe said. “It also exposes students to the field of Environmental Sciences, which is a unique opportunity for first-year students at U of T, and offers a path to continue their studies.”

Equally important to George and Martha Butterfield is that their gift is invested in a way that reflects their lifelong commitment to the environment, and that students understand that the courses are funded by sustainable investments. To that end, Trinity College has partnered with Greenchip Financial, a firm that invests only in companies that provide products and services that improve the efficiency of natural resource use and address environmental challenges.

“Supporting Trinity in their mandate to foster leadership and responsibility is mutually beneficial,” George Butterfield said. “Martha and I are committed to supporting innovative change through education, and we couldn’t think of a better place than the school that is so meaningful to us. We believe that this stream has the potential to give students the foundation they need to effect real change as future leaders.”

Applications for the 2018-2019 Margaret MacMillan Trinity One Program are now open. Trinity One is open to all full-time students entering their first year of study in the Faculty of Arts & Science at the St. George campus, regardless of college affiliation. For more information, visit www.trinity.utoronto.ca/trinityone.

(Photo by Chris Wahl)

New Green Wall: Enhancing the Student Experience: March 27, 2017

2017 Green Wall with Danielle Pal in the Buttery

An initiative led by Trinity student Danielle Pal, the new green wall was installed on March 24 in The Buttery in the Gerald Larkin Building!

Along with environmental advantages and adding beauty to our community space, it is known that connecting with nature has many psychological benefits.

“It helps one feel more calm and focused, especially in a high stress environment. Connecting with nature gives you a greater sense of well-being,” said Danielle, who is a double major in Environmental Studies and Psychology, and co-president of the Trinity College Environmental Society.

The green wall includes nine species of preserved plants (mosses, ferns and herbaceous plants). The wall requires no maintenance (no sunlight, water or energy). The installation is about 4.5 m wide by 2 m tall, and will last up to 10 years!

The project was approved by SCCC and funded by the Student Capital Fund (Trinity student society fee).

Thank you to all those involved in supporting this initiative. And thank you to Ginkgo Sustainability and By Nature.

View photos of the installation of the new green wall

Trinity College Archives and Sustainability: Update 2017

Archives Hallway Before and After Renovations

We’re building a future for Trinity’s past!

As part of the renewal project, earlier this year, Trinity College installed a new geothermal system under the front lawn of the main building to provide environmentally-friendly heating and cooling to the new Archives (opened in 2017). This new system also provides stable temperature and humidity needed for the proper preservation of artifacts in the new Archives. In addition, the concrete blocks used in the new Archives are also environmentally sustainable (using repurposed waste carbon dioxide during the concrete manufacturing process). As part of the renewal project and to ensure accessibility to the new Archives (lower level of the main building), we installed a machine roomless elevator (MRL), which uses significantly less energy – 60% more energy efficient than an hydraulic elevator – and requires no oil, therefore no environmental risk and no oil odour. Reclaimed bricks were also used for the elevator construction.

Food Services: Sustainable, Local, Vegetarian Options: December 20, 2016

New Salad Bar food items in Strachan Hall

Made-from-scratch cooking with no additives. Locally sourced foods and produce. Wholesome ingredients and vegan and gluten-free options. Healthy beverages.

Since 2015, Trinity College has been transforming the food offerings to its students in its main student dining hall – Strachan Hall. While the changes are extensive, the key principals of change are to support student health while catering to values of more environmentally sustainable and ethically procured food.

“At Trinity, we value supporting the whole person by providing authentic, healthy and ethically procured food to nourish the body, mind and conscience,” Trinity College Provost Mayo Moran said. “Excellent food is a critical element in cultivating and supporting student health and wellness, and ultimately overall student success, and this is reflected in our values of the College’s Health & Wellness initiative.”

Trinity College Board of Trustee member Joannah Lawson, a registered nutritionist, has been playing a central leadership role in helping the College transform its food services and menus. “We are providing delicious, nutritious and healthy food options – foods that are lower in sugar, sodium, unhealthy fats and preservatives, while high in nutrients and fibre, including whole grains, which are important for good health, energy and prevention of chronic disease,” she said.

What students will find at Strachan Hall is vastly different than the usual fare found in most university dining halls.

At Trinity, food is cooked from scratch using whole foods. In fact, on average, an additional 245 cases of fresh produce per month are being consumed by Trinity students since this work started – that is a huge increase in fresh fruits and vegetables consumption!

Variety of tomatos at the tomato tasting event in Strachan HallAll the sauces, soups and salad dressings are made-from-scratch with no food additives, providing a more delicious and nutrition food experience for students. Recently made-from-scratch breakfast loaves and muffins – with wholesome ingredients including vegan and gluten-free options – have been added to the menu.

Students can also select from a wide variety of meals and snacks, including freshly made omelets, healthy sandwich bar (deli meat has been replaced with in-house roasted and hormone-free meats), smoothie bar, more healthy proteins such as fish, fresh and varied salad bar with homemade dressings, cheeses, creative vegetarian and gluten-free options, and freshly made soups that are low in sodium. Along with improving the quality and variety of fruits and vegetables, the College uses always fresh, never frozen ingredients, and prepares all produce in-house. And fresh whole or cut fruits are always available at all meals.

Trinity’s Associate Director, Community Wellness has put a creative spin on the ever-expanding salad bar offerings in Strachan Hall. She created “Ramata’s Salad of the Day” recipes so students can learn new food preparation ideas while also being inspired to try a wider variety of nutritious foods.

Many jurisdictions around the world are introducing “soda taxes,” which increases the price of sugar-sweetened beverages as a method to tackle the rising rate of diabetes and other diet-related diseases. To reduce sugar consumption in beverages, Trinity has taken a positive approach by making the best beverage – water – a whole lot more exciting. Since the installation of the infused water stations (flavoured naturally with citrus, melon, cucumber, mint, berries and rosemary) the rate of water consumption has sky rocketed with a parallel plummet in the consumption of sugary sodas by 50%.

Two students enjoying fresh corn on the cobWorking with the College’s administration and Food Services team, the Student Food Advisory Committee (SFAC) provides ongoing student (residence and commuter) feedback about food quality, sourcing and variety. Through the SFAC and feedback from the College’s annual food survey, students have made it clear that the environment matters and they prefer to have food that has a lower carbon footprint in how it is produced and how far it travels to land on their plates. In addition, in May 2016, Trinity received a Fair Trade Campus designation, which recognizes universities and colleges that have shown a strong commitment to Fair Trade principles and to offering Fair Trade products.

“In a world where the negative human impacts on our climate and environment are real, being part of the solution towards sustainable local and regional food sourcing that reduce costs, carbon and energy foot prints is a no-brainer,” Trinity student Mbonella said.

Trinity has increased its locally sourced foods to 25% and that number will keep growing. A seasonal menu has been developed to feature local foods in season and to celebrate them with the students in creative and delicious ways. For example, the September tomato tasting event was very popular, only to be outdone by the October corn roast.

Along with nourishing the body, Strachan Hall also plays an important role is bringing the community together to enhance the student experience for resident and commuter students. “I find the community hub of Trinity is Strachan…the kitchen is the heart of the home, then Strachan is the heart of Trin, for res and non-res students alike,” said Trinity College commuter student AnneMichaela. “The inclusivity of non-residence students in the dining spaces leads them to feel more comfortable with all aspects of the college…and to be invested in the college as a whole.”

Highlights from the College’s most recent student food survey and other updates will be shared in the new year. For more delicious photos, follow Trinity College Food Services on Instagram @TrinEats!

Upcoming Local Food Events at Trinity

Local Cheese Tasting: Thursday, January 26 from 11:30 am to 12:30 pm in Strachan Hall. Students will have the opportunity to do a blind cheese tasting of some locally sources cheeses.

Beet Brownie Valentines: Tuesday, February 14 from 11:30 am to 1:30 pm in Strachan Hall. Drop by to get your prepackaged beet brownies with valentines – give to a partner/friend or enjoy the treat yourself!

Both events are free and open to all Trinity students.

Learn more about food services at Trinity.


>> Back to main Sustainability News & Events page