Sustainability Seminar Series


Seminar # 1
Date: Thursday, Oct 25, 2018
Time: 12 - 1 pm
Location: Bergeron Centre for Engineering Excellence Room #125
Presenter: Professor Ahmed ElDyasti, PEng 
Title: "Moving Conventional WasteWater Treatment Plants (WWTPs) into Water Resources Recovery Facilities (WRRFs)"

: The future vision for wastewater treatment plants (WWTPs) is to no longer consider these facilities as an activity for removing pollutants but a facility that can couple the treatment process with the generation of value-added products, which are known as water resources recovery facilities (WRRFs). However, the definition of the WRRF is still ambiguous and various applications are under research to define different strategies to upgrade the WWTPs into WRRFs.
Different Biotechnologies can be integrated to play a key role in the development of WRRFs. In this seminar, I will share with the audience three main objectives were set to evaluate the possibility of integrating two promising Biotechnologies within WRRFs. The primary focus of this talk is to provide a high-level overview of the next generation of wastewater treatment plants using biofilm processes and their integration to maximize energy and value-added products recovery, including biomethane, biohydrogen, and biopower, in accordance with the emerging paradigm shift towards mining resources from wastewater.
The need of reducing power consumption and carbon footprint for wastewater treatment plant is driving this technology development. The new generation of such Bioprocesses will include the application of sustainable novel biological reactors coupled with the recovery of the value-added products and energy that are generated in such a process, as well as the use of energy efficient processes to transform “energy-consuming treatment processes” into “energy-saving and energy–positive systems”. 
Seminar # 2
Date: Thursday, November 29, 2018
Time: 12 - 1 pm
Location: Bergeron Centre for Engineering Excellence Room #211
Name: Professor Sapna Sharma 
Title: "On thin ice: Are lakes feeling the heat?"

Lakes are warming around the world in response to a changing climate, including warmer water temperatures and shorter ice duration.  Lake ice is at risk of becoming extinct in thousands of lakes around the Northern Hemisphere with widespread consequences for ice fishing, recreation, and transportation. Historically Canadian lakes have been highly significant bellwethers, as they represent a northern or southern limit to many freshwater fish species.  This makes Canadian fishes particularly vulnerable to climate change.  Of particular interest are walleye and smallmouth bass.  Walleye, trout, and smallmouth bass are all angler favourites.  But as the feisty smallmouth bass continues its march northward in Canada, it will put populations of trout and walleye at long-term risk.
Seminar # 3 
Date: Thursday, January 31, 2019
Time: 12 pm - 1pm 
Location: Bergeron Centre for Engineering Excellence Room #125
Name: Professor Mark Gordon
Title: “Measuring Atmospheric Pollutant Emissions, Mixing, and Deposition in the Athabasca Oil Sands Region”

The extraction and processing of oil sands in the Athabasca region of northern Alberta releases more than 45 kt (Kilotonnes) of SO2 and 95 kt of particulate matter into the atmosphere every year. The region is fertile ground for the study of: atmospheric pollutant emission measurement techniques; pollutant mixing processes; and source determination methods. This talk will overview a number of studies in this region related to the emissions of atmospheric pollutants, mixing of pollutants into the surrounding environment, and deposition of pollutants into the boreal forest. The Top-Down Emission Rate Retrieval Algorithm (TERRA) calculates emissions from the production facilities using aircraft-based measurements. Model simulations improve TERRA and optimize flight patterns for future campaigns. Aircraft measurements assess model predictions of smoke-stack plume-rise, demonstrating a significant model underestimation of plume rise height. Image analysis algorithms automatically determine plume-rise height from continuous video recordings of facility smoke stacks. The York Athabasca Jack Pine (YAJP) 33m-tall instrumented tower is situated in a forested region surrounded by oil sands facilities. The YAJP tower measures energy balance and CO2 and moisture fluxes throughout the year (and will soon be outfitted with instrumentation to measure ozone). Two intensive summer field studies at the YAJP measured aerosol mixing and deposition, and ozone and SO2 profiles in the lower atmosphere. All of these topics will be discussed in the context of improving the methods that are used to quantify sustainability.

Seminar # 4
Date: Thursday, February 28, 2019
Time: 12 pm - 1pm 
Location: Bergeron Centre for Engineering Excellence Room #125
Name: Professor Charles H. Cho
Title: "Sustainability Reporting: Frontstage, Backstage, Façades and Hypocrisy"


Sustainability discourse (or reporting) is becoming ubiquitous. Yet, despite its potential to help corporations be more accountable and transparent about their social and environmental impacts, there has been growing criticism asserting that such reporting is utilized primarily as an impression management tool. This is illustrated by the contrast between the companies’ frontstage sustainability discourse on environmental stewardship and responsibility and their less visible but proactive backstage political activities (in Goffman’s terms) targeted to facilitate the passage of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR) Bill – a legislation that would allow oil exploration and drilling of the most sensitive environmental areas in the Refuge. However, this persistent significant gap between corporate sustainability talk and practice also leads us to argue that contradictory societal and institutional pressures, as well as conflicting stakeholder demands, require organizations to engage in hypocrisy and develop façades, thereby severely limiting the prospects that sustainability reports will ever evolve into substantive disclosures.

Seminar # 5
Date: Thursday, March 28, 2019
Time: 12 pm - 1pm 
Location: Bergeron Centre for Engineering Excellence Room #125
Name: Professor Dawn Bazely
Title: "Southern Ontario Biodiversity and Local Food Security"


Inch by inch, row by row, learn some botanical information to help your garden grow! The 1937 Nobel prizewinner, Albert Szent-Györgi, reminded us that photosynthesis is “what drives life”, and “is a little current, kept up by the sunshine”. Every plant can take in carbon dioxide and water, and make simple sugars, while giving off oxygen.
University Professor Dawn Bazely is a faculty member in the Department of Biology. Dawn is an ecologist in the field of plant-herbivore interactions. She will discuss the food security and its role in in building a sustainable future. She will also share some botany basics to help you understand the importance of native biodiversity, and how it is not incompatible with growing a garden using local vegetables and herbs.