George Brown College (GBC) took a huge step forward in addressing what the United Nations calls "the defining issue of our time" with the launch of the Brookfield Sustainability Insititute (BSI), a first-of-its-kind, college-based centre of excellence in Ontario to tackle challenges posed by climate change.
BSI works with businesses, governments, not-for-profit organizations and other institutions to create tangible solutions for building sustainable communities, and it aims to address climate change issues through talent development and research. We celebrated the official BSI launch on May 18 with trendsetters and innovators of the banking and building sectors and with the support of political leaders, including Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, who shared words of support via video.
"The Brookfield Sustainability Institute is one of the many exciting new developments underway at George Brown College, both in terms of its innovation and its environmental impact," said Dr. Gervan Fearon, President of George Brown College. "The Institute highlights the college's aim to be a sustainability leader and a force for positive environmental change locally and globally."
BSI launches with leaders from RBC, EllisDon and Mattamy
The highlight of the BSI@GBC launch event was a panel discussion featuring EllisDon President and CEO Geoff Smith, Mattamy Asset Management Inc. Chairman and CEO Peter Gilgan, and Royal Bank of Canada (RBC) CEO Dave McKay and moderated by EllisDon Chief Strategy Officer and EVP, Infrastructure Services and Technology Jody Becker.
The leaders discussed ways to decarbonize the building sector — a crucial challenge in achieving Canada's 2030 climate targets and creating a net-zero economy by 2050. The BSI collaborated with RBC's Climate Action Institute on a new report, Low Carbon, High Rise: Canada's $40 Billion Net Zero Building Challenge, outlining steps to reduce greenhouse gas emissions created by the housing industry in existing homes and new construction. The report's release coincided with the BSI launch.
"For us, the journey to net zero, a substantial chunk of that by 2030, is one of the most important journeys for the health of our country and our planet," McKay told the panel. "As we looked across all of the sectors and gauged the level of activity and where we could be of assistance and make a difference … we looked at the amount of emissions coming from our building and home sectors and how regional the industry is. When Geoff and Peter came forward and said, not only do we want to lead regionally, but we want to be a player nationally, we said, this is fantastic."
Trudeau and Ontario Municipal Affairs and Housing Minister Steve Clarke shared messages offering their congratulations and encouragement about the BSI launch via video at the event.
"Climate action is no longer a negotiable. It's a necessity. So, we need your leadership now," Trudeau said. "I look forward to hearing more about the bold ideas you bring to the table and the results you'll deliver for future generations who are counting on us."
AN INNOVATIVE AND SUSTAINABLE HOME FOR BSI'S BOLD IDEAS
BSI's exciting activities will soon be housed in an equally exciting new home — GBC's mass-timber Limberlost Place. The Waterfront Campus expansion project is currently under construction at Queens Quay East and Dockside Drive (connected to the Daphne Cockwell Centre for Health Sciences by a timber pedestrian bridge). Limberlost Place will welcome students from the School of Architectural Studies and the School of Computer Technology in January 2025.
Learn more at georgebrown.ca/limberlost.
Environmental sustainability is among George Brown College's top strategic priorities, and we are ready to play a pivotal role in creating a more sustainable world. Learn more about the Brookfield Sustainability Institute at brookfieldsustainabilityinstitute.com.